Almost two years ago, it was beginning to seem like steroids were becoming a part of Major League Baseball's past. Commissioner Bud Selig had come out and said that the Steroid Era was coming to an end (h/t Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times).
It is clear that is nowhere close to the truth. Since Selig issued that statement, a number of big-name players have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun found himself in the middle of some controversy when it was announced that he had tested positive for a PED. While Braun's suspension was overturned, it was once again a reminder that performance-enhancing drugs are still very much a part of the game of baseball (h/t ESPN).
In 2012, four major-league players have been suspended for testing positive for PEDs. Guillermo Mota, Freddy Galvis, Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera have all been suspended by MLB this season.
After Cabrera's positive test, Victor Conte, the head of BALCO, discussed how he believed that a significant number of players in the majors still use PEDs (h/t ESPN).
It is clear that this issue has not gone away.
Cabrera's case presents MLB with a very interesting situation. He was in the middle of a career year this season when he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for high levels of testosterone (h/t ESPN).
As it currently stands, Cabrera's .346 batting average leads the National League. Andrew McCutchen is the only player that seems to be within striking distance of the mark as the 2012 MLB season winds to a close.
What this means is that Cabrera, whose performance this year was in some part fueled by performance-enhancing drugs, could end up taking home the National League batting title.
Bud Selig needs to step in to make sure that doesn't happen.
Baseball cannot clean up its image when one of its prominent statistical leaders failed a drug test that year.
It could take a rule change to make sure that it doesn't happen, but it is one that should easily be implemented. Selig could propose a rule that any player that tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs is ineligible to be counted as the statistical leader in any category during the same season in which the infraction occurs.
There would likely not be much opposition to such a proposal, as no player wants to be cheated out of something that is rightfully theirs.
Allowing Cabrera to win the title would help set a dangerous precedent. While a 50-game suspension is obviously tough, letting a player be named the season's leader in a statistical category would show that the league is soft in some areas of its PED enforcement.
Last offseason, there was the debate about whether or not Braun should keep his NL MVP trophy as a result of his positive PED test. That decision did not have to be made, but it is one that should have been simple.
Any player that tests positive for a PED should lose any award or recognition that he received that season.
The performance-enhancing drug helped him put up better numbers in some capacity that year, and the award deserves to go to a player that was clean.
There is one simple solution that would make the whole issue with Cabrera and the batting title moot. If McCutchen finishes with his batting average above .346, then the batting title will end up in the hands of its rightful owner.
Even if that is the case, this issue shows that there are more areas that Major League Baseball needs to think about when it comes to punishments for violating its PED policy.