Baseball is in the process of recovering from one of the most embarrassing — yet some argue exciting — eras in the history of the game: the Steroid Era.
During the 1990s, steroids became widely used throughout the league, despite the ban of the drug in 1991. The prohibition of this performance-enhancing drug surely didn’t stop players from using it to gain an advantage, as power numbers surged during the mid- to late 1990s. While some will argue that these “juiced up” players brought baseball back to life, a majority of baseball fanatics will say that the Steroid Era gave the game a massive black eye.
Over the years, we’ve seen the league put the hammer down on the use of PEDs. Under the current Joint-Drug Agreement, any player who tests positive for PEDs is subject to a 50-game ban without pay. That equates to a little less than a third of one baseball season. If a player is caught cheating a second time, they are issued a 100-game suspension without pay. Lastly, if a player is caught for a third time, they are officially banned from the game of baseball for life.
Fifty games for a first offense may seem like a good chunk of games to someone who doesn’t follow baseball, but to me, it’s nothing.
A ban of 50 games can be covered in a little over two months in a baseball season which I find ridiculously low in a six-month season. Of course, even a second time offender can be suspended and still wind up playing in the same season. I find that absurd. Another fact that I find unbelievable is that Major League Baseball also allows suspended players to be eligible for the postseason.
I, along with many other baseball fans, need to see Major League Baseball take actions against PED users and toughen up the penalties.
My proposal is to give first time offenders a 162-game ban from baseball if they test positive for a banned substance. If they are caught a second time, they should be sentenced to a lifetime ban from the game. Unlike the game of baseball where you’re out on three strikes, I believe in this case, it should be two strikes and you’re done. We all deserve second chances, but a third?
In the case where a high-profile player with a rich contract is caught cheating, Major League Baseball should allow a team to void that contract. This would allow only the players to be hurt, and not the organization. Threatening players with the loss of a season’s salary or possibly a contract should scare them away from the thought of taking PEDs.
A player who serves his suspension during the course of a season should also be prohibited from playing in the postseason even if his suspension time is up. They must learn from their mistakes and should not have the privilege of playing baseball in October.
As we saw during last year’s season, Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta was suspended on Aug. 5, 2013. He was eligible to return just in time for the playoffs, played well, and was rewarded with a fat four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. To me, that seems unfair that he was able to receive such a large contract, while other free agents are still looking for work — free agents who actually play the game clean and with respect. In a way, the suspension was a time for him to rest and prepare for the postseason. Getting caught was sort of a reward financially for him.
Baseball started cleaning up at the beginning of the century, but it still needs work. We can’t let America’s pastime be tainted with PEDs and artificial talent. Major League Baseball needs to set an example for young kids growing up that drugs aren’t the way to go. The most effective way to do this is to enforce stricter penalties — whether it’s increasing the amount of games lost or taking away a player’s salary, something needs to be done. We can’t let this game succumb to cheaters and frauds.