Jun 3, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun tries to convince umpires he was safe at first base on a close play in the 8th inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
For a couple of years I have been making the argument that ballplayers caught using banned substances should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Yesterday’s announcement that the Biogenesis director is cooperating with the league just reinforces the need for the league to act decisively and eliminate the bad behavior. A quick skim of today’s headline story comments shows a growing number of people who seem resigned to Baseball becoming another corrupt, untrusted sport.
Like a Hydra, the topic of PED use has made it back to the front page. This time, 20 or so active players are facing what may be up to a 100-game sabbatical. My intent here is to present why it’s important for Baseball to send a clear message and hopefully restore the sport to its preeminence as the national pastime.
The bottom line is that if the 20 or so players are proven to have purchased, received, or used banned substances, they have broken a rule that they agreed to abide by when they signed a contract that enabled them to play professional baseball. Whether the rule is correct or not, whether it is reasonable or not, or whether or not the 20 or so players aren’t the only players to break the rule is not up for debate.
Michael Austin, in an article published by Psychology Today, said the following:
"There are some moral values that societies share, because they are necessary for any society to continue to exist. We need to value human life and truth-telling, for example. Without these values, without prohibitions on murder and lying, a given society will ultimately crumble."
Clearly, the use of PEDs by pro ballplayers does not threaten the continued existence of our society in general, but it does threaten the much smaller society of baseball. When the playing field is conspicuously tilted by the use of PEDs, then one of the key pillars of the foundation of the game is weakened; that pillar is parity. Baseball has been such a good game for so many people for so many years because the rules provide for parity between competitors at every level of the game from T-ball through the World Series.
In order to protect our society of baseball, parity must be protected, and to do that, MLB officials need to make examples of those players found to have knowingly and deliberately broken the rule regarding banned substances. For sure, a 100-game suspension is in order. However, the suspension does not address the records achieved by those players that felt they could cheat and not get caught.
In my mind, the officially recognized accomplishments of Biogenesis players like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun should be nullified if they are found to have broken the rule, at least those accomplishments that fall within the dates of the PED use. Would Ryan Braun have been able to connect as well if he hadn’t cheated? Would A-Rod’s career have been as long without the illegal use of HCG?
I do know that I don’t want my son to grow up thinking that the best path to a career as a professional baseball player goes through a pharmacy. Furthermore, I don’t want him to grow up thinking that if he wants to excel at any aspect of life, all he has to do is figure out how to tilt the table in his favor. If he does, then the decline of the society of baseball does have an effect on our larger human society.
It’s time to clean house, Bud. Keep sending a strong message that baseball has been, and will always be an honorable sport.