I’m glad that a player finally stepped up to point out Major League Baseball’s need for a new steroid policy, especially when it is someone with the stature and reputation of David Ortiz.
Not too long after Alex Rodriguez’s positive steroid test results were announced to the world, Ortiz made a statement that said the current policy isn’t strict enough. Big Papi’s words shouldn't be taken lightly.
The Boston Red Sox slugger is making a call that needs to be taken seriously by Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association.
"I would suggest everybody get tested, not random, everybody," Ortiz told the Associated Press. "You go team by team. You test everybody three, four times a year and that's about it."
"Ban them for the whole year," he suggested as punishment for a first-time offense.
But a one-season suspension is just the beginning of what should happen. Players busted juicing should have their year of suspension be completely unpaid, throw in a few fines, test them even more upon their returns, and if they don’t get clean, ban them for life.
Baseball doesn’t have room for cheaters anymore.
The issue goes far beyond what is moral, ethical, and healthy for the body.
When I first learned that Rodriguez had been found out, I felt as if a little part of my fanhood died.
Here is a young man who has countless endorsements, who is on pace to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time home runs list, to pass Barry Bonds as well, and ultimately to go down in the history books as the greatest home-run hitter ever.
More importantly than that, we thought that after all of the controversy surrounding human growth hormone in baseball, we had found someone who would break the record as honestly as Hammerin’ Hank himself.
“I knew we weren’t taking Tic Tacs,” Rodriguez said today according to ESPN. “I didn't think they were steroids. That's again part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter. It was pretty simple. All these years I never thought I did anything wrong."
If Rodriguez is telling the truth and he truly didn’t know he was taking a banned substance, then that begs a very serious question.
When are these athletes—being paid millions of dollars while the rest of the country struggles in a sluggish economy—going to start taking responsibility, real responsibility, and start asking up front “What is this that I’m putting in my body?”
It isn’t fair to baseball fans that players are negligent.
I, along with millions of others, had invested a ton of faith in Rodriguez and when the stories of his test results were leaked, it broke my heart. It made me think very hard about baseball and the people that I look up to as a fan.
When I go to Wrigley Field to see my Chicago Cubs play, when I dedicate three hours out of every day in the spring, summer, and fall to watch them, when I spend an insane amount of money on tickets, a train ticket from my South Bend, Ind. home to Chicago, souvenirs and concessions, how many people on the field are cheating me and lying to me?
When I have a son and I take him to his very first ball game, will Major League Baseball have done its part to make sure that he isn’t being cheated?
Will they realize by then it is high time that little children’s heroes should not be cheaters?
There’s also no way that Congress should be involved in a sport right now. We have a struggling economy, an energy crisis, a few wars overseas, and the politicians who have our fate in their hands should not be dealing with a game.
Perhaps if Major League Baseball would successfully govern itself, the government wouldn’t have to take time out of its schedule to intervene.
“This is not a player’s game, this is not a team game. This is a family game,” Ortiz said according to a report from Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald. “We have a lot of families that enjoy this game. We have a lot of families that bring their kids to watch this game and I don’t think this game can take anymore.”
Well put, Papi.
Fans are what keeps baseball running, and we shouldn’t have to take being lied to or cheated anymore.