The news of a new scandal, or at least recently discovered scandal, concerning performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball is making its way through the news today. Up to twenty players are involved, some of them actually decent players rather than scrubs trying to make it or old guys trying to hang on.
It’s a travesty that it’s come to this. Baseball records are now like photography. I don’t trust it. Too many ways to photoshop … or juice.
If it were just a modern problem, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s a historical problem. When we compare, say Barry Bonds, to Babe Ruth, it is an issue. Ruth’s PEDs consisted of beer and hotdogs. And he looked like it. It is simply unfair to history to compare Babe Ruth’s statistics to Barry Bonds.
To solve the drug problem, or to at least make a dent in it, MLB needs to hit players where it matters … in the pocketbook.
So in the interest of changing the world and making it a better place, here is my solution to the drug problem:
For the first offense, any player caught using drugs (based on a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt) has an automatic one year suspension, and a mandatory and non-appealable fine, consisting of all baseball related income (contracts, endorsements, etc) over and above the league minimum (currently $490,000) for the next five years. To this fine is added all baseball related income above the league minimum salary for the previous five years. This means that the first offense for a drug violation receives a one year suspension and forfeiture of all baseball related income above the league minimum for ten years (five in the past and five in the future).
So for example, Alex Rodruiguez is slated to make $28,000,000 this year on his contract. Under this plan, he would make $490,000 for the next five years, which means his fine is $27,510,000 this year, in addition to all endorsements, plus the same for the next five years. Plus the same for the previous five years. If A-Rod knew that was the consequence, would he have thought twice before using PEDs? I bet he would have. No performance boost it worth over $100,000,000.
For the second offense, a lifetime ban is mandatory, including the immediate canceling of any contracts. This also includes a ban from the Hall of Fame, from any and all participation in any baseball related functions connected with Major League Baseball, including minor league assignments.
Draconian? Sure. But it sends the right message: Baseball won’t tolerate PEDs, and it will hurt if you get caught.
Now, this won’t bother the hangers on or those marginal player looking for an edge to make it. They are willing to take the chance that they won’t get caught. And if they do, they aren’t losing anything they wouldn’t have had anyway.
But it will tell the world, and the fans, that drugs will not be a part of the game.
Will it happen? Of course not, because the MLBPA (the player’s union) doesn’t want to solve the problem. They never have. And MLB doesn’t have the courage or the leverage to solve it.
But a guy can dream, can’t he?