I’ve always been a huge Major League Baseball fan.
That doesn’t mean I won’t tune in now and again or ever go back to a professional baseball game to break my “diet” with a two foot long hot dog and plate of nachos that’s mostly just melted cheese, because I’m sure I will.
But never again will I sit and watch every single game of the season and study the MLB Standings closer than the stock market. Those days are over.
Yesterday, MLB announced suspensions for players accused of using performance enhancing drugs. Using those drugs is cheating, so I applaud the effort to get those out of the game.
Yet while this seems like progress on that front, I wonder if yesterday’s events aren’t just a PR campaign made to give the appearance that something serious is being done. My suspicion is borne in part by recent comments of a friend of mine who told me about a woman she knows whose son is a pitcher for a Major League Baseball team. According to my friend, this pitcher told his mother that practically everyone on his team is still using PEDs (except him—I’m sure he wouldn’t lie to his mother).
So unfortunately, in taking this action I still don’t think the MLB comes close to really solving the problem and by doing it at this particular time, they’ve created a lot of new issues that are hard to feel good about.
For example, take my own favorite team, the Texas Rangers. Yesterday, their All-Star right-fielder and hit leader Nelson Cruz accepted a 50 game suspension and confessed publicly to steroid use. Cruz is a free agent after this season, so effectively, he’s done for the year unless the Rangers make the playoffs. Personally, I feel that if they do make the playoffs after this it will be despite him and not because of him, so he shouldn’t be allowed on the field anyway. I wouldn’t even sell him a ticket to watch.
Nelson Cruz is disappointing at every level. Putting aside the fact that he lost the World Series for the Rangers (a fact I’d almost been able to forget), he broke the rules by using banned substances. With the Rangers in a very close pennant race and with Cruz one of two Rangers who can hit the ball more often than occasionally, his presence on the field is important to the team now more than ever.
That left Mr. Cruz with a dilemma once it became clear he was part of the Biogenesis scandal and subject to possible suspension. He could appeal his suspension and effectively serve his suspension next year which would mean he’d likely lose a lot of money trying to sign a new contract, or he could appeal and finish this season which would help his team but hurt him financially.
Guess which one he chose?
He’s helping himself, of course.
So now, Mr. Cruz not only has one but two very bad examples for fans and young athletes everywhere. He cheated and when push came to shove he chose himself over his team.
Sure, he loses money now, but I’m sure he thinks he can make it up in free agency. After all, he’s exiting the stage as one of the five best hitters in the American League and just put in an appearance in the All-Star game. He hit three home runs in the last five games he played. He should have no trouble signing a fat contract somewhere next year.
I just hope it’s not in Texas.
A true punishment for Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers, who is also a free agent after this season, would be to make their suspensions effective at the beginning of their new contracts next season when it would affect them both more personally. The same goes for Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s already injured and his team is horrible this season. Missing 65 games isn’t a huge deal for him because this is a lost year for him anyway and he’ll still get to keep his fat contract.
Professional sports everywhere need to be cleaned up. Major League Baseball is making a big show of doing something now. Until they prove they’re seriously doing something about it, I’ll keep my money and find a new source of entertainment.