HILLARY SMITH: New century of problems demands new consequences

2013-07-28T21:00:00Z HILLARY SMITH: New century of problems demands new consequencesHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 28, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

In the 20th Century, players were banned from baseball for gambling.

The eight Chicago Black Sox, one-time Cubs signee Lee Magee and Jimmy O'Connell and Cozy Dolan of the Giants were banned in the 1920s for betting on games or conspiring to throw games. In 1988 Pete Rose was the last to receive a lifetime ban that stuck, for betting while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

The 21st Century has already been defined by drugs. Not the recreational kind, but the performance enhancing kind.

Major League Baseball's PED policy officially took effect in 1991, with the addition of steroids to the league's list of banned substances.

The penalty phase of the policy was given some teeth in 2005 with the institution of the 50- and 100-game penalties that could lead to a lifetime ban.

Since then, 67 players have been suspended with durations ranging from 10 games to 105. Ryan Braun's 65-game stretch that will end his season shows Braun became another athlete whose denials proved to be a lie.

The multiple-game suspensions are supposed to be a deterrent for players to not take the chance at all. Instead, they've created a culture of players who think they won't be caught.

RailCats manager Greg Tagert said that the game suspensions aren't enough.

"Unless they do something like the Olympic Committee and go two years, there's never going to be a deterrent," Tagert said. "One year isn't going to be a deterrent. Melky Cabrera still got a two-year $8.5 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jays, while Bartolo Colon is still pitching for the A's.

"Ryan Braun will miss 65 games of a season that is lost to the Brewers. So Ryan Braun will be able to rest his body up and be ready for spring training. There's no deterrent right now, 50 games, 100 games, I don't care, a Major League season is so long the only deterrent is a penalty against the club and a two-year minimum ban. A lifetime ban, I'd be all for it, but I think to borrow from the Olympics, because two years would make a player think long and hard and two years is a long time in a player's career."

The lifetime ban to a player like Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to using PEDs from 2001-03, but hasn't failed a drug test since is difficult to administer. If it were going to come, it would have to have been decreed before 10 years after the fact.

Now, there are 10 years of negative tests to challenge any attempted ban, not unlike those who argue that "Shoeless" Joe Jackson never took any money during the Black Sox Scandal.

However, a lifetime ban on those that do test positive, and a penalty to the team that holds the players contract will make the teams more accountable to the actions of their players. A player who plays IHSAA games without having passed all of his or her classes will have wins negated.

The entire Fab Five era of Michigan basketball no longer exists in a record book, though any player who was a senior in 1991 had nothing to do with the pay-to-play scandal. 

However, Melky Cabrera played 113 games with the Giants last year, helping them to a record that put them in the postseason, where they won the World Series. Though Cabrera didn't play in any playoff games, the Giants were there in part because of his help in the regular season. Should the Giants be stripped of their World Series title because of one player?

"When the teams are penalized, that's the action you take," Tagert said. "You're stripping Ohio State of a national crown, you should be stripping the San Francisco Giants of a World Series title. The teams that turn the other cheek or the facade that the game is cleaned up is ridiculous. It's a PR statement on Bud Selig's part."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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