Here we go again. Major League Baseball players are making headlines and being linked to using performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs. Tuesday's story in the Miami New Times comes out and the national baseball press is again fixated on the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez.
This all follows by weeks the latest Hall of Fame vote announcement where no one was elected and where Roger Clemens got just 37.6 percent of the vote, Barry Bonds got 36.2 percent and Sammy Sosa got 12.5 percent. Seventy-five percent is needed for induction at Cooperstown.
Baseball can't seem to avoid the PED talk. Now Major League Baseball does have the most stringent drug testing program among the major sports, but it comes after years where the sport was looking the other way during the so-called steroid era.
One thing with PEDs that I have always wondered about is why would a star player like Rodriguez or Barry Bonds need to use them? Wouldn't you expect fringe players to be linked more often to PEDs, players that supposedly would need to take them just to make a club and earn a paycheck? Not a player who is already an established star. Why would the star player risk his reputation when he is already among the game's best players?
Also, now that baseball has cracked down and has the toughest testing of the major sports, why would any player try to cheat the system? Isn't that just crazy?
Maybe it's not crazy at all. Last year, Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants was suspended by MLB for 50 games in August for testing positive for testosterone. At the time of his ban, Cabrera led the National League in hits and was second in batting average. He was also the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player.
In 113 games, Cabrera batted .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs. He had an OBP of .390 and OPS of .906. Keep in mind that, even after his big 2012 season, his career batting average is .284, his career OBP is .338 and his career OPS is .752.
His stats the past two seasons are much better than the seasons that came before that. Did he just get better and come into his prime a player? After his suspension, it is certainly fair to wonder how much help he had improving his stats.
In November, Cabrera signed a two-year, $16 million dollar deal with Toronto. So yes, he was suspended for 50 games and got public criticism for that. But his team also won a lot of games last year, the National League earned home field advantage in the World Series with the All-Star game win and three months after being suspended, Cabrera is $16 million richer. We'd all like to hurt like that.
The time has come for baseball to crack down harder on cheaters. In this interview from MLB Network Radio, Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals calls for a player to miss an entire 162-game season for a first-time offense and be suspended for life with the possibility to apply for reinstatement with a second offense. I like how he thinks and perhaps it's time to move in that direction.
Major League Baseball now has more stringent testing. Now the time has come for more stringent penalties for cheaters.