PEDs are the single biggest problem affecting Major League Baseball. It affects other sports, but it affects baseball more than anything. There are two different views on the PED issue; issue harsher punishments on guilty players and try to rid the sport of cheaters, or turn a blind eye of sorts because everyone is using and the game is a hell of a lot more entertaining with steroids in the game. Just as there are two different sides to the PED issue, I believe there are two different kinds of fans of baseball; fans of the game (the history, integrity, and future of the game), and fans who only like to be entertained at whatever cost. In my opinion, you can’t be on the fence. If you’ve got one toe on the side of being more lenient on PEDs because it makes the game more fun to watch, you’re all in on it. As a fan, I fall in the former group.
Let me pose a hypothetical question. If Major League Baseball suspends all players that test positive for PEDs for a full season instead of 50 games after their first time, and then ban that player from the game after a second positive test, would that clean up the game? And if that does clean up the game, would that make you happy? I say ‘yes’ on both questions. 50 games is obviously not a big enough deterrent, so I think baseball needs to attack the players’ livelihood. Let’s take that a step further. What happens to players who are only linked to PEDs and have never tested positive? I think there needs to be hard evidence. If all it took was a player being linked to PEDs or someone who is known to distribute PEDs, there could be all sorts of smear campaigns started by players with some kind of vendetta. Maybe I’ve watched too much TV and seen too many movies, but it seems like if you are invested enough and have the money to do it, you can frame any player for at least being linked to PEDs. There needs to be a positive test… nothing more, nothing less.
People are saying the PEDs are a part of sports. Players need to use them to still be competitive in their sport. The one sport that is used most often to provide some kind of proof for those claims is football. Let me state the obvious: football is NOT baseball. The NFL and MLB are so different. The NFL is based off of extreme physical contact and domination. In a sense (and not a sense that I necessarily endorse), professional football players need to use steroids as a way to prevent injury because they need to be bigger, faster, and stronger in order to survive. Football is barbaric, baseball is not. Baseball is cerebral. Baseball is statistically driven. In baseball, a player needs to have a long career in order to be considered one of the greats. In football, a player is judged by championships. In baseball, a player is judged by milestones such as 3,000 hits, 600 home runs, or 300 wins. A football player could feasibly have a Hall of Fame career and only play for 9-10 years. In baseball, a player would have to be truly transcendent and go above statistics to get to Cooperstown in that amount of time because the previously mentioned milestones won’t happen in 9-10 years. Do not use football as a comparison on the PED issue.
I am all in on the side of the history and integrity of the game of baseball. I don’t want to have these “greats” of the game not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame because they cheated. I don’t want hallowed records to fall at the feet of dishonesty. Baseball needs to be clean again. The dark steroid era needs to pass. The only way I see that happening is if the players’ careers are put in jeopardy. As a Brewers fan, even if that means Ryan Braun is gone, so be it. Nobody should be safe.