Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A-Rod on Roids.
Is anyone genuinely shocked by this? Another big-hitting, superstar baseball player was on steroids. [Get ready for the sarcasm...] Wow, I'm flabbergasted.
Of course, while it doesn't surprise me at all, it does piss me off. A-Rod can sit there and talk about the incredible pressure he was under to perform, but that doesn't make it right. If I was under incredible pressure to pay my mortgage and feed my family, so I cut corners by robbing a bank or embezzling funds from where I work... they'd throw me in jail. And they'd be right to do so, because I would have broken the law.
So A-Rod admits he did something wrong, but that's it. People call him brave for stepping forward. B.S. I don't see him volunteering to be removed from consideration from the MLB Hall of Fame. I don't see him leaving baseball. I don't see him offering a refund to all the kids who bought his jersey. I don't see him returning the $22 Million he was making every year he admitted to taking steroids. I don't see him scaling back his current $275 Million contract.
No punishments are handed down, no real responsibility is taken, and everyone says, "Oh well. What are you going to do? I guess this is just a part of the game now."
Steroids are listed as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States, and possession without a prescription can carry a penalty of up to three years in prison. I'm not saying we should throw half of MLB players in jail. But I'm sick of nothing happening at all. So here are a couple of ideas that I think might help curb the use of steroids in professional sports.
1. Constant testing by a third party. Don't let individual teams or even MLB police itself. They have a vested interest in making sure their superstars remain superstars, the game appears to be pure, and the fans keep filling seats and buying merchandise. Instead, you need an independent third party firm, not paid by MLB, to perform regular drug and steroid tests of all players.
2. Much larger penalties for players. Right now a player has to get caught four times before receiving a 1-year suspension. Isn't this baseball? Can't we get a three strikes and you're out rule? Nowhere in the rules will these guys get permanently banned from the game. Also, right now the first offense get you a 10-day suspension without pay. In a 162-game season that's about 6% of your annual salary. And sure $1.7 million might be a lot of money... but on A-Rod's $28M a year contract, it only means you might not be able to buy that fourth beach house you were looking at. How about putting a real dent in these massive salaries? Positive steroid test means you forfeit 25% of your contract for the year.
3. Penalize the teams! There are two reasons I don't drop F-bombs on the air, and both are the FCC. First off, I would receive a huge personal fine, and frankly I don't have the money to pay it. But what if I did? Maybe if I was as rich as Howard Stern (or Alex Rodriguez) and had the money, I wouldn't mind paying the fines in exchange for the freedom to swear over the airwaves. But this is where the FCC comes back into play - they would also drop a huge fine on WAPL. And while our company might have the money to pay a big fine... they frankly don't want to. It would get hard to explain to the rest of the staff that our facilites, equipment, benefits, and co-workers had to go away because Elwood wanted to say the F-word. So instead I'd be fired. And I'd find it very difficult to get another job in radio, because other companies don't want to hire a guy that is going to cost them a ton of money in FCC fines.
So, let MLB punish teams when their players are discovered in violation of league rules. Teams are businesses and they would definitely be better at self-policing behavior if they're going to lose revenue as a result of some jackass on the roster breaking rules. Teams would also have better judgement about signing players with a history of steroid use, for fear of future penalties.
Now these are definitely not the only solutions, but as far as I can see they'd be a good start to help bring back some respect to a game that doesn't seem to be doing much to improve its image ni the eyes of fans.