It’s time for the players association and its members to step up.
The latest scandal once again has Yankee third-baseman Alex Rodriguez and Brewer outfielder Ryan Braun linked to a Miami-based Biogenesis anti-aging clinic. As we wait to see whether commissioner Selig plans to send a message by suspending A-Rod, Braun or both for 100 games, I’m anxious to see the layers associations’ reaction. This won’t happen soon enough, primarily because lawyers are involved and there is a “process” to “run its course.”
At the same token, it’s noted by many in baseball circles that the players association wants to fully cooperate with the league office on the issue of performance enhancers. It’s already clear baseball is willing to go the distance to sniff out cheaters, sending investigators to this Miami clinic for months and months of work and eventually convincing (likely offering a nice deal to keep government entities off his back) ring-leader and Founder Tony Bosch to testify in favor of the league. The players can expedite the process and save aggravation by siding with baseball. Don’t count on it. Likely, appeals are forthcoming to any suspension baseball hands down.
There are two points I want to stress with these latest revelations. First is the issue with baseball’s fully guaranteed contracts. Listening to former great, Barry Larkin, you can tell this issue stings him personally. As a former player, he knows the deal. And he’s absolutely correct when he poses the scenario where a player cheats, gets caught, but then the next season is still awarded a fully guaranteed, multi-million dollar deal. Contracts should be void if players cheat and baseball and the players association need to revisit that issue in the collective bargaining agreement.
If the association is serious about taking measures to deter players from cheating, adding a provision to void fully guaranteed deals on the basis of positive tests would be an admirable first step.
Secondly, the players association needs to stress education to its members. Dave Zirin from the Nation said it best when he wrote to decriminalize the game, citing baseball’s problem should be viewed as an issue of public health and not of crime and punishment.
Zirin: “If seen as an issue of public health, the scandal here would not be that a group of players may have used (drugs). The scandal would be that they had to visit a scuzzy, unregulated ‘clinic’ not run by medical professionals to get their drugs. Instead of criminalization, educate all players about the harmful effects of long-term (drug) use when not under a doctor’s supervision. … Then, players could take advantage of the most effective new medicines and MLB would be removing the process out of the shadows.”
All of these steroids allegations are linked to shady practices and sketchy doctors. (see BALCO, Anthony Galea and now Tony Bosch). The pattern is alarming.
A lot remains to come of the latest reports, including baseball’s suspension decision and formal responses from the alleged users. Steps to clean up the game have been in place. Baseball is trying harder than ever. Will the players association oblige?