Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout is known to create a buzz on the field for his outstanding play, flashy defense and world-class speed.
On Monday, he made a splash off the field, making his feelings toward performance-enhancing drug users known during a radio interview in New York. With the Angels in town to take on the Yankees, Trout, a New Jersey native, joined Boomer and Carton in the Morning on WFAN.
“To me personally, I think you should be out of the game if you get caught,” Trout told Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. “It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural.”
The 2012 MVP runner-up, possibly heading for his second straight second-place finish to Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera, expressed frustration toward players trying to gain an edge.
“Some people are just trying to find that extra edge,” he said. “It’s tough as a guy that goes out there and plays hard every day and puts 110-percent effort every time. And then you wake up the next day and you see there’s a list of guys that are, you know, on the list. It’s good that MLB caught them and they are moving in the right direction with suspensions and stuff.”
As Major League Baseball attempts to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs, the cooperation from current players, especially young stars like Max Scherzer and Trout, will aid the cause much more than any 211-game suspension to Alex Rodriguez or 65-game ban to Ryan Braun.
Trout's comments should not be taken lightly. Along with Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Matt Harvey of the Mets, Trout is leading the next group of well-known, universally accepted baseball stars. Within five years, the names Trout, Harper and Harvey could be what Bonds, Rodriguez and Clemens were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In other words, the backing of Trout is a major boon to Major League Baseball. If the Major League Baseball Players Association ever allowed the owners to ban players based on one performance-enhancing drug offense, the sport could be changed for ever. In fact, professional sports could be changed forever.
Hearing the words and emotion from Trout is unprecedented due to his rising stature in the game.
During the Steroid Era through the start of sanctioned testing in 2004, players did not speak out as freely as they do now. While many players were clean during the early days of testing, speaking out against teammates, potential future teammates or other members of the MLBPA wasn't in vogue.
Trout's comments represent a shift in thinking toward users from the crowd of clean, hardworking performers in the game.
While it's hard to imagine MLB players ever truly losing the privilege to play the sport based on just one offense, Trout and others deserve credit for putting their reputation on the line.
The backlash toward players who have been vocally against PED usage becomes loud and brash if their words don't match up with actions. Most famously, Rafael Palmeiro was ridiculed because of his vehement denial of PED usage in light of his actual failed test.
Not only is Trout taking a stand, but he's also offering up his own reputation in the event a failed test ever comes back with his name attached. Even if the drug test is for a supplement or legal aid prescribed by a doctor, any connection between Trout and performance-enhancing drugs in the future will circle back to Monday's interview.
For now, Trout becomes the best and brightest face of the anti-PED movement. For his sake and the game of baseball, let's hope that continues for years.
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