When Does the PED Risk Outweigh the Reward?

Disclaimer, I just got back from flying to Seattle from Indianapolis. If I start to rant or rave a bit, then forgive me.

The MLB finally did what people weren’t sure they would do, lay down the hammer on a superstar player caught with his hands in the cookie jar, or the syringe drawer, whatever. Ryan Braun takes a 65 game suspension which will include the rest of the season and the postseason if the Brewers somehow make the playoffs. After adamantly denying his guilt in Rafael Palmiero form, he came forward to the MLB when they presented a stack of damning evidence. It certainly did not bode well for him when the MLBPA stated they would not come to the aid of the Biogenesis culprits. Now the MLB is in disarray as people are waiting to see who the next player staring down the barrel is (you know, after A-Rod).

The steroids plague has been in the public’s eye ever since 2005, but it sure feels longer than that. In eight short years the MLB went from an edge-of-your-seat sport clad with fireworks and impressively jacked athletes into a dark age of cynicism and skepticism. Whenever a player has a breakout year for home runs, he is immediately speculated by fans to be on the needle. This latest snafu has analysts wondering what it will take for MLB players to feel that the risk of steroids and HGH outweighs the benefits of using. At the moment, the risks are 50/100/150 games for a player’s first/second/third infraction respectively. At the same time, the benefits are massive multi-million dollar contracts and endorsement deals. Even when a player gets caught, like Braun, the most he can really lose is his endorsement deals (and his pride I guess, but they tossed that to the wayside a while ago). Braun is still owed over $100 million over the course of his contract, and the Brewers are stuck with the check despite not likely ever having the same production that he has had in the last two years.

Many baseball players have either voiced their opinion or had their opinion inquired about by the media. Some players dodge the question not trying to take sides, others are very vocal and have very strong opinions. One player in particular, Max Scherzer, said that he is in favor of Braun’s colossal contract being voided because of how audacious his defense was against the initial positive test.

“I still don’t think the punishment fits the crime. MLB hasn’t closed the loophole to create the incentive to cheat. He still has his contract and he’s still financially gaining from this.”

He did make the distinction between Braun’s offense and the situation surrounding Freddy Galvis of the Phillies. Where Braun sought out PEDs and attempted to make a mockery of the system, Galvis unintentionally used a foot cream that contained a banned substance in it.

I do agree with Max Scherzer, wholeheartedly. The reason players take these drugs is to land those ultra-massive contracts that set you and your family up for life. And as I mentioned before, the players still have their guaranteed money as a safety net if they ever are to be caught. And in my opinion, a nine figure safety net is not too shabby. Players like Braun and Alex Rodriguez do not deserve to be making superstar money when they climb to the top using shady methods. If employees in regular life get their contracts terminated after they get caught doing something illegal, why can’t we hold sports stars, who are looked up to by people of all ages, to the same standard?

Obviously the MLB cannot enact a measure like this right away. Unfortunately, Braun and A-Rod will get to make their money. But the MLB and the MLBPA need to come to some sort of agreement to take financial gains from the players who sully the name of baseball. The MLBPA’s purpose is to defend the players and fight for their best interests, but when the players are so adamantly against these types of scandals, shouldn’t something harsher be agreed upon?

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