Major League Baseball have one man to sarcastically thank for the recent scandals (yes, that’s pluralized, because of both Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera recently being suspended) that have overshadowed what has been an exciting two weeks in baseball: 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun. Thanks to Mr. Braun, who was originally suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for a positive drug test, which was then revoked after a successful trial, performance enhancing drugs have made a big comeback on baseball’s biggest stage.
We all know about the early 2000’s when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, along with Barry Bonds and others, were juicing it up (well, we didn’t know until later) and smacking home runs at a record pace. Somewhat thankfully, that rate of home runs has gone down significantly to where it should be, but now because of Braun winning his case, and not having to face his 50-game suspension, many players are no longer scared of the consequences.
Braun himself has again been stellar personally with 34 home runs and 85 runs batted in with a .304 average, but the Brewers have struggled to do much this season after the loss of Prince Fielder to the Tigers, sitting in fourth place in the NL Central, with virtually no chance at a playoff berth 17.5 games behind the division leading Cincinnati Reds. However, Braun’s model and seemingly untarnished record has likely been a reason why guys like Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon in the last week have been suspended.
When Major League Baseball implemented the current positive drug test policy, which is a suspension of 50 games for the first infraction, 100 for the second, and a lifetime ban from the game for the third, there wasn’t much controversy from the media after the disaster that was the early 2000’s in Major League Baseball, where most of the game’s stars were caught for cheating.
Since the current drug policy was accepted, only two players in MLB have been suspended twice: Manny Ramirez and Guillermo Mota. I think that Bud Selig would be fairly pleased with that statistic. Finally, it seems that some fear has been struck in the hearts of Major Leaguers.
The debate about whether convicted PED users should be accepted into the Hall of Fame continues, with many of the alleged users including Roger Clemens (who, by the way, is trying to make a comeback in the Independent League for those of you who didn’t know) and others scheduled to be eligible for the Hall this year or in upcoming years.
I feel bad for both Giants and A’s fans, who have been cheering on Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon respectively this year. Both were having great years, considering the low expectations. Cabrera is a former Yankee who never lived up to his potential, bounced around a bit, had a breakout year last year with Kansas City, then got traded to San Francisco for Jonathan Sanchez, he of the no-hitter a few years ago, and became a frontrunner for the NL MVP with an average of .346, 11 home runs, and 60 RBI’s before his suspension, shocking his legion of ‘Melk Men’ fans and regular Giants fans alike. Colon was good for the Yankees last year, but with his age creeping up there at 39 years of age, he was a question mark. So he came to the Athletics, and has been outstanding for them, with only a 10-9 record that didn’t reflect his pitching too well, but a very good ERA of 3.43. Colon was an important cog in the Athletics rotation on a young team that was very impressive over the majority of the year, and are still in the hunt for a playoff berth. Without Colon, a power arm in their rotation, one would think their chances have been decreased.
Nevertheless, Colon and Cabrera have hopefully learned their lessons (although I’m not too convinced by Cabrera, who had someone close to him create a phony website advertising a supplement that he apparently took), as have fellow major leaguers who now know the strength and power of the positive drug testing policy.