Growing up my baseball hero was Sammy Sosa. He’s the reason that I am the huge Cub fan I am today, despite living in Michigan for my entire life.
So when he and most of baseball’s superstars of the past decade were either caught or accused of using performance enhancing drugs, not only was the sport of baseball in turmoil, but so was my fandom.
Since these dark days in baseball’s past, Major League Baseball has done a reasonable job of keeping PED’s out of the game. Recently though, there have been some troubling cases regarding them.
Last offseason, the reigning MVP Ryan Braun was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a PED, and the baseball world was rocked to its core. Was it really true that baseball’s brightest young star could be cheating?
Although after he won an appeal, it appeared as if it was just a false alarm.
That brings us to this season. One of the breakout stars of the year was the San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera. After numerous average seasons, he was named to his first All-Star game and even won the MVP award this year. Then all of a sudden he, too, was a cheater and suspended on Aug. 15 for using synthetic testosterone.
Most recently, veteran pitcher and former Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics was having a solid season, until he became the most recent ball player to get smacked with the 50 game suspension for PEDs Thursday, Aug. 23.
So what does this mean for the sport? While PEDs might not be as rampant as they used to be, it is clear that they are still a problem.
According to Victor Conte, the former president of BALCO, the company whom was supplying many athletes with PEDs, said as many as 50 percent of baseball players are using them today, and that there are easy ways to pass a drug test, according to an ESPN article. While this may be a bit exaggerated, it is clear baseball has a long ways to go before PEDs are a thing of its past, and for that matter, all of sports.
It’s obvious, at least to me, that the current way of disciplining players for positive tests are still not enough to sway their judgment about using PEDs, and that even harsher penalties need to be enforced as a way of saying that baseball will have zero tolerance when it comes to cleaning up the game. In the end these players are not only hurting themselves and the game of baseball, but also the fans.
Maybe the most unfortunate story to come out of this whole event is the two young Giant fans that went to the ballpark ready to cheer on their favorite player, Cabrera, only to discover that he had just been suspended for PED use. That’s a story all too familiar for myself.
It’s a heartbreaking story that shows that baseball needs to clean up its act once and for all, so that we can enjoy the game for all it is worth once again.