The current period of baseball has often been labeled the “Post-Steroid Era”, but there is nothing “post” about it. Yesterday we learned that over 90 baseball players’ names lie within the records of the now infamous Miami Biogenesis clinic; enough athletes to field ten teams. We talk about steroids as if it’s a thing of the past–something of the days of Clemens, Bonds and McGwire — yet it is seemingly as present as ever.
There have been estimations ranging from 15% all the way up to 90% of how many players were using in the proclaimed ”Steroid Era” of the 1990s to early 2000s; some claim everyone was juicing. The fact of the matter is nobody — other than the players themselves — knows for sure how many were on some form of PEDs, and the same goes for today’s game. We now know of almost one hundred of them in today’s game that are linked to a single PED/steroid clinic and there are undoubtedly others who are using who have yet to be caught. Who is to say that the game is any cleaner than 1999?
Sure, there are stricter penalties in place, but is that stopping anyone from using? The almighty dollar still far outweighs the risk for these players. Ryan Braun is now committed to Milwaukee through 2020 for roughly $140 million dollars. Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid baseball player ever, and still has nine figures left on his deal with the Yankees. Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire combined for three quarters of a billion dollars in salary over their careers. Their names are mud, their reputations are forever tarnished, but they will be sitting pretty for the rest of their lives.
Would you take a magical pill, illegal or not, if it were to increase your salary by ten-fold? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. The problem will never be solved, but testing will not make a significant impact until it hits the players where it hurts, their wallets.
Make it so the first offense is an entire season–unpaid–and the second time is a lifetime ban with a one-time “parole” after two years, which there have been rumblings about. On top of that, make it so that every MLB contract must have a clause stating that if you test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, your team has grounds to void your deal.
This type of punishment would never go through with the MLBPA since they, like many of their cheaters for clients, value money over the sanctity of the game. It is time for Major League Baseball to take a stand and put an end to this problem once and for all. They have the toughest PEDs testing of any sport by far, but has done little to alter the issue at hand.
Player are not afraid of the test or its penalties, especially after Braun showed in 2011 that you can overturn it with one hell of a lawyer and blaming the tester instead. MLB needs to get its act together and start creating effective ways of stopping PEDs from getting into the systems of its players.
The penal system in place that was thought to have been working has clearly failed. It is time for the Commissioner’s Office to put some real teeth into their bite. Major League Baseball needs to take back this hallowed sport from the toxic, tainted wasteland that it has become, where no records are trusted and nobody gets into Cooperstown. Then, and only then, can we close the book on this period known as the “Steroid Era”, and justly put a “post” in front of it.
As it stands now – especially after this recent Biogenesis superstorm – there is still much work left to be done, and calling this the “Post-Steroid Era” is all too reminiscent of another premature declaration of success: