• Why Baseball Should Ban A-Rod

    Posted by on January 30th, 2013 · Comments (22)

    I totally understand why a baseball player would be tempted to use a performance-enhancing drug.

    I think that most ballplayers, at any level, aspire to improve their level of play, all the time, and would love to be among the best to play the game.

    And, when it comes to professional baseball players, the drive to get to the major leagues is very strong. It’s an uphill battle too. I would estimate that less than 9% of the players in the minor leagues at any point in time will ever go on to appear in a major league game. Further, as many who have made it will tell you, getting to the major leagues is incredibly hard. However, staying there, and forging out a major league career, is even more difficult to attain.

    And, to be the best of the best in the majors? Well, put it this way. If you’re going to make it to the Hall of Fame as a player, you’re going to have to be in the top 1/1000th of all players to ever play in the major leagues. (Yes, about .001 of the some 207,000 men to play in the big leagues made it to Cooperstown as a player.)

    Oh, and, by the way, there’s the money angle. The minimum salary for the 2013 major league season is $490,000. And, the highest paid players in baseball today can make as much as $20 million in a single season.

    When you factor all this together, it’s not hard to fathom why ballplayers would use a performance-enhancing anything (much less a drug).

    This all said, the issue here is that major league baseball, as a result of pressure from sundry fronts, does not want players using performance-enhancing drugs. And, when players do use them, quite often, they are obtaining them illegally. But, again, the players, wanting to be better, in the majors, and making a lot of money, will continue to do whatever they can do to enhance their performance.

    At this point, the only thing that will prevent players from using performance-enhancing drugs will be a penalty which makes the risk much greater than the reward.

    My daughter is almost 11-years old. Since she is getting older, people will sometimes ask me how I will handle it once she starts dating. To that, my answer is always the same: “I am going to kill the first boy who asks her on a date and hang him from the tree in front of my house – as a warning sign to all the other boys who are thinking about chasing after her.”

    Of course, I am kidding (when I say that). But, the notion is an effective one.

    If baseball really wants to scare the bejeezus out of someone considering using performance-enhancing drugs, then they need to make an example out of someone which will leave an indelible mark in the minds and memory for ballplayers today and those in the future.

    This brings us to Alexander Emmanuel “Alex” Rodriguez (aka “A-Rod”). If baseball had the balls to void his contract, ban him from the game, and make his ineligible for the Hall of Fame, that would set one helluva example (and strike fear into the hearts of potential future offenders). Yet, we know this cannot happen because of baseball’s CBA, the MLBPA, and the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

    I guess that’s one of the differences between baseball in 1921 and 2013. Baseball should ban “A-Rod” today. But, the can’t – so, they won’t. And, this chance to make a move and set an example will go down looking…

    Comments on Why Baseball Should Ban A-Rod

    1. MJ Recanati
      January 30th, 2013 | 5:22 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      I guess that’s one of the differences between baseball in 1921 and 2013. Baseball should ban “A-Rod” today. But, the can’t – so, they won’t. And, this chance to make a move and set an example will go down looking…

      The counterargument here is that the power of unilateral action is dangerous and detrimental to both parties (the dominant party and the one being dominated). While baseball’s rules — or lack thereof — allowed for unilateral action in 1921, we know that owners (and the commissioner they appointed) were corrupted by their unchecked power over the players.

      Whether you like or dislike Rodriguez, or even if you’re indifferent towards him, due process is always better than unilateral action. Baseball doesn’t have the grounds to ban Rodriguez right now. Chances are, they’ll never have the grounds to ban him for more than 50 games. What you’re asking for would be patently unfair.

      If you want meaningful change and a tangible disincentive against the use of PED’s, then the commissioner, the 30 MLB owners and the player’s union will have to agree to include PED-usage language in player contracts as a negative covenant. Until then, all of baseball’s stakeholders — and the media too — are being completely disingenuous when they talk about trying to oust baseball’s drug culture.

    2. Raf
      January 30th, 2013 | 5:32 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      If you want meaningful change and a tangible disincentive against the use of PED’s, then the commissioner, the 30 MLB owners and the player’s union will have to agree to include PED-usage language in player contracts as a negative covenant. Until then, all of baseball’s stakeholders — and the media too — are being completely disingenuous when they talk about trying to oust baseball’s drug culture.

      Yep.

      Otherwise, treat it like they treat gambling.

      The idea that Rodriguez should be banned outright, and someone like Steve Howe gets multiple chances doesn’t sit right with me. Dwight Gooden was suspended while on suspension, and he still managed to find work.

      Honestly, I still think the PED issue is overblown, considering it has been in the game in one form or another for at least 40 years (again, I defer to “Ball Four” when it comes to drug usage), and there is uneven (read as “selective”) moral outrage.

    3. Corey
      January 30th, 2013 | 6:30 pm

      Off-topic but, PED related:

      Anyone else think that Cano is going to get busted 10 minutes after signing a mega deal with the Yanks in the next offseason? I mean, his teammate clique were using so I would guess that the best of the bunch would be doing it too..

    4. Corey
      January 30th, 2013 | 6:38 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      If you want meaningful change and a tangible disincentive against the use of PED’s, then the commissioner, the 30 MLB owners and the player’s union will have to agree to include PED-usage language in player contracts as a negative covenant. Until then, all of baseball’s stakeholders — and the media too — are being completely disingenuous when they talk about trying to oust baseball’s drug culture.

      Sounds good to me. You do ‘em, the rest of your contract gets voided.

    5. Corey
      January 30th, 2013 | 6:39 pm

      And you have to think that some of the players would be in favor of this as it would oust the cheaters (potentially).

    6. Corey
      January 30th, 2013 | 6:42 pm

      Raf wrote:

      I defer to “Ball Four”

      I’m going to get this book, I keep seeing you mention it.

    7. 77yankees
      January 30th, 2013 | 8:44 pm

      Funny, you hear people in the media laud Marvin Miller’s work with the MLBPA, and could swear these are the same ones who are calling for A-Rod’s lynching from MLB…which won’t happen as a result of…Marvin Miller’s work with the MLBPA!!!

    8. LMJ229
      January 30th, 2013 | 10:38 pm

      I really don’t get why there isn’t PED-usage language in player contracts. Does the union have the right to dictate the terms of individual contracts? If I was a star player who never used PEDs I’d welcome the clause. I can’t believe the contracts wouldn’t at least have some verbiage related to the use of illegal substances.

    9. LMJ229
      January 30th, 2013 | 10:41 pm

      It kills me how the press reacts to baseball PED users vs. football PED users. Talk about a double standard – it doesn’t get any bigger than that!

    10. Raf
      January 30th, 2013 | 11:15 pm

      Corey wrote:

      I’m going to get this book, I keep seeing you mention it.

      Also see if you can get a copy of Bill Lee’s “The Wrong Stuff”

    11. Raf
      January 30th, 2013 | 11:23 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Funny, you hear people in the media laud Marvin Miller’s work with the MLBPA, and could swear these are the same ones who are calling for A-Rod’s lynching from MLB…which won’t happen as a result of…Marvin Miller’s work with the MLBPA!!!

      That has to do more with Rodriguez as a polarizing figure, more than anything else.

      Neifi Perez was suspended 3 times, Manny was suspended twice. Both players had teams express interest in their services. Rodriguez has only been linked, and has yet to miss a game due to suspension/failed test, and people are already burying him.

    12. Raf
      January 30th, 2013 | 11:26 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      I really don’t get why there isn’t PED-usage language in player contracts. Does the union have the right to dictate the terms of individual contracts?

      Before, there wasn’t a reason for a clause. The union may push for it going forward. It all depends on what the players say.

    13. January 31st, 2013 | 7:31 am

      @ Raf: No one cares about Neifi Perez because the only records he set were for being a very sucky batter. Few care about Manny because they wrote him off as a flake a long time ago. The difference with A-Rod is that he’s close to setting the all-time HR record…or, at the least, he once was close. (I don’t think he gets it now.) And, more importantly, he went in front of the world in 2009 and said that it was a mistake in 2001 to 2003, and, that, what he did forward from 2009 is what we should measure him by, etc. And, then, he went back out and used again. He lied to everyone. Just like he lied about never using, ever, on 60 minutes and then later got busted in 2009. Liar = fraud = A-Fraud. He lacks sincerity, cannot be trusted, etc. He lied to everyone, in the face, at least twice now. And, that’s maybe a bigger crime than using, in the public courts.

    14. Evan3457
      January 31st, 2013 | 7:57 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      I really don’t get why there isn’t PED-usage language in player contracts. Does the union have the right to dictate the terms of individual contracts? If I was a star player who never used PEDs I’d welcome the clause. I can’t believe the contracts wouldn’t at least have some verbiage related to the use of illegal substances.

      There isn’t such language because MLB and MLBPA have negotiated penalties for violating their rules regarding PED use, and those penalties are suspensions, not voiding of signed contracts.

    15. Evan3457
      January 31st, 2013 | 7:58 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      @ Raf: No one cares about Neifi Perez because the only records he set were for being a very sucky batter. Few care about Manny because they wrote him off as a flake a long time ago. The difference with A-Rod is that he’s close to setting the all-time HR record…or, at the least, he once was close. (I don’t think he gets it now.) And, more importantly, he went in front of the world in 2009 and said that it was a mistake in 2001 to 2003, and, that, what he did forward from 2009 is what we should measure him by, etc. And, then, he went back out and used again. He lied to everyone. Just like he lied about never using, ever, on 60 minutes and then later got busted in 2009. Liar = fraud = A-Fraud. He lacks sincerity, cannot be trusted, etc. He lied to everyone, in the face, at least twice now. And, that’s maybe a bigger crime than using, in the public courts.

      Which doesn’t give the MLB the right to ban him for life; or the Yankees the right to void the contract.

      It does give them a good reason for pursuing the only “out”, as in: buy him out at full value.

    16. Raf
      February 1st, 2013 | 12:17 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      No one cares about Neifi Perez because the only records he set were for being a very sucky batter. Few care about Manny because they wrote him off as a flake a long time ago. The difference with A-Rod is that he’s close to setting the all-time HR record…or, at the least, he once was close.

      So then PED use is acceptable as long as records aren’t being broken? :P

      He lacks sincerity, cannot be trusted, etc. He lied to everyone, in the face, at least twice now.

      Given what other ballplayers have done over the years, anything Rodriguez has done barely registers on the map. He lied. So what? Ballplayers lie all the time; to themselves, to their teammates, to their wives, their mistresses, so on and so forth.

      Rodriguez has been accused of lacking sincerity ever since he left Seattle, so that’s not a new revelation.

    17. February 1st, 2013 | 7:39 am

      @ Raf:
      I actually believe that…that if some busher used PEDs to get out of the minors and become a role player in the majors (think Shane Spencer) then no one would care about it. But, when a guy uses PEDs to hit 66+ homers in a season or to strike out 300 batters when he’s 39-years old, then, that’s when people get pissed off about it.

      It’s all about the record books.

    18. MJ Recanati
      February 1st, 2013 | 8:16 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      I actually believe that…that if some busher used PEDs to get out of the minors and become a role player in the majors (think Shane Spencer) then no one would care about it. But, when a guy uses PEDs to hit 66+ homers in a season or to strike out 300 batters when he’s 39-years old, then, that’s when people get pissed off about it.It’s all about the record books.

      Which then makes the stand against PED’s completely disingenuous. You’re either offended by PED use or you’re not.

      I’m not offended by PED use in the slightest. As Russell Crowe asks the spectators at the Roman Coliseum, “Are you not entertained?” I, for one, have been very entertained by baseball. It’s a great game and I love it. If PED’s have been a part of it since I was in junior high in the late 80′s, so be it…

    19. February 1st, 2013 | 10:52 am

      Think of it this way:

      Theft is offending.

      But, the guy who steals and gains nothing from the theft is less bothersome than the guy who steals and greatly benefits from the theft.

      Doesn’t mean that theft is legal or should be ignored in any case. It just means that, in general, people really don’t care all that much about people breaking the rules when no one is hurt or benefits from it.

    20. G.I. Joey
      February 1st, 2013 | 10:56 am

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I’ve always appreciated how incredibly clear and consistent your position on PEDs has been.

    21. MJ Recanati
      February 1st, 2013 | 12:13 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      But, the guy who steals and gains nothing from the theft is less bothersome than the guy who steals and greatly benefits from the theft.Doesn’t mean that theft is legal or should be ignored in any case. It just means that, in general, people really don’t care all that much about people breaking the rules when no one is hurt or benefits from it.

      I guess I don’t see why fans should care one way or the other. Whether Alex Rodriguez or Neifi Perez benefit or don’t benefit doesn’t change anything in the fan experience. You’ve paid your $160 to sit in our seats and you’re watching future Hall of Famers sharing the field with guys whose only contribution to the game is a 0.0001 KB worth of space taken up by their Baseball-Reference page.

      To the extent PED use constitutes cheating, A-Rod was going to be in the big leagues no matter what. Neifi Perez might not have made it without PED’s (the theory goes). So who’s really cheating whom now? You’re not being cheated because the seats cost $160 and because you don’t pay less if Rodriguez hits 400 career homers instead of 600…

      Anyway, I’ve said all I can possibly say about this topic. All I know is that if that’s the way you feel, you’re entitled to your opinion. It’s completely inconsistent and logically flawed but, then, so is all this absurdist outrage at PED use in sports.

    22. MJ Recanati
      February 1st, 2013 | 2:08 pm

      @ G.I. Joey:
      Thanks dude. I can live with the idea that PED’s offend some folks but I can’t get behind all the soapboxing that ESPN and the rest of the media do on the subject.

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