Baseball was once a game of honor. The pride and admiration of one’s work was all that was needed to deter cheating and dishonesty. However, just like the Seattle Pilots of 1969, that era of baseball has come and gone. We now live in a baseball era where cheating and dishonor rule the headlines. PED usage has become a front and center issue. No longer do fans feel pride when talking about our national pastime. Instead we feel the shame that is associated with the steroid era.
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We have no way of knowing if a player is clean; it is that thought alone which shames our great game. The trust between fan and statistic has hollowed. The once proud records we revered have faded through the sands of time. We simply do not know who has cheated and who hasn’t. It is a shame that will continue to disgrace our game unless action is taken to correct it.
Thus the question: What should Major League Baseball do about the flux of PED users? Players like Angels outfielder Mike Trout and former commissioner Fay Vincent have spoken up and said baseball needs to ban all PED users upon their first offense. Others are more tolerant and believe the current rules should stay the way they are. What should baseball do to regain its honor?
One option is for baseball to expel PED users from the game. The only way that’s going to happen is by going through the players’ wallets. All PED users should immediately have their contracts voided. Taking away their money will deter players far more than suspending them. If the MLB Players Association is serious about cleaning up the game, then agreeing to this shouldn’t be an issue.
If the game doesn’t go to that extreme, there should be a two-strike rule when it comes to suspensions. If you’re caught for the first time, then it’s an automatic 100-game suspension. If caught a second time, then you’re out of the game for good. “Cheaters never win” is a phrase that needs to return to baseball. Players like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun need to realize they are not bigger than baseball. Players with their level of arrogance should be expelled from the game for all eternity.
How can we turn a blind eye to these power-hungry steroid users? They feel they’re above the law and deserve nothing but the best in life. That’s the wrong approach to take. Those who cheat need to learn the punishment is severe. Winners are those who work hard. I’d rather go 0-for-3 at the plate with three strikeouts while clean than homer three times in a game while dirty. That’s easy to say with no money in front of me. However, I’d like to think my principles outweigh “the empty promise of a dollar sign.” I’d feel guilty cheating the game, and it’s time baseball players all over the world feel that way, too. “Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.” It’s time Major League Baseball lived by those principles once again.
Matthew Orso is a columnist for Through the Fence Baseball. He is the Media Manager of County Baseball Publications LLC and author of “Bonded at the Seams: Baseball in our Lives.”