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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It’s not Just A-Rod

As I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodger’s game, the announcers kept promising that they would switch to the Yankee-White Sox game, so we could witness Alex Rodriguez making his first plate appearance this year. This was after they went on and on about a lifetime ban, the money involved, and the fact that he’s not well liked. ESPN knew we all wanted to see him get booed.

About 2 hours later, prior to the Texas Ranger-Los Angeles Angels game, a commentator for the Texas Rangers said that Nelson Cruz made a heartfelt apology to his team for using the same drugs A-Rod took, but they wished him well. Yes, A-Rod is a serial user and he made a spectacle of himself, on and off the field but his penalty was four times greater.

The New York Yankees knew Alex Rodriguez was using an illegal substance before they acquired him in 2007. Mr. Rodriquez admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs in 2001 to 2003 when playing for the Texas Rangers.

I think A-Rod’s problems began when he received the huge contract from the Texas Rangers and then got a bigger  contract from the New York Yankees. Now he had to perform like the highest-paid player on the planet every single day.

I love the game of baseball and the players who used the illegal substance, whether they got caught or not put a black mark on baseball.

The owners looked the other way and enjoyed the revenue they received from the home runs these players were hitting. Our own hero, Nolan Ryan had to notice as an owner, that Sammy Sosa was on something. Barry Bonds was a skinny kid when he first came up, and he put up some good numbers. The owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates had to notice his hat size increasing. The Commissioner of Baseball had to suspect something when the baseballs were leaving the park at record pace.

As a fan, I contributed because I would tune in to the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinal game, just to watch Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire hit home runs. People started going to the ballpark two hours early just to watch batting practice. Everyone benefited from the steroid era but some act, as though they didn’t. The losers of that era were the inspiring players whose careers were cut short because they refused to cheat.

Several players have been banned but came back the following year and received a better contract through free agency. One of the players banned, Ryan Braun, got a 65 game suspension and lost $3 million this year, but the rest of his $145.5 million contract stayed intact.

I don’t know anything about performance-enhancement drugs, so I can’t say how much they improved a player's achievement. A player still has to have the hand- eye coordination and other physical talents to be a major-league baseball player. Having said that, I think the most important reason for banning the substance is what they’ll do to the player after he leaves baseball.

There’s an easy solution because money is at the heart of most problems. The players need to get with their union Rep and insist that after all the appeals and hearings, if a player is found guilty of using illegal substances, their contract should be forfeited. The owners should pay a price, such as a hefty fine, if they didn’t take appropriate action such as investigating a player who’s under suspicion.

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