According to baseball writer Peter Gammons, some Boston Red Sox players are upset about Jhonny Peralta's inclusion on Detroit's postseason roster after a 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal.
From early August through the last week of the regular season, Peralta accepted and served his suspension by Major League Baseball. When the 50 games were completed, it was up to his organization, the Detroit Tigers, whether to include him on the postseason roster.
Unlike the San Francisco Giants' decision to leave Melky Cabrera home last October under similar circumstances, Detroit chose to bring Peralta's bat to the postseason party.
Thus far, the decision has paid major dividends. With a 1.200 OPS, four extra-base hits and six runs batted in, Peralta has been a difference-maker for Detroit against both Oakland and Boston. As the series continues in Detroit, Peralta's ability to hit Red Sox pitching will continue to play a role in the outcome of this series, but the narrative around his inclusion in the ALCS should not be a story.
Simply put, any Boston player who publicly or privately complains about Peralta's inclusion in this series is a hypocrite. Under the current CBA, players are eligible for the postseason roster if a suspension is completed prior to the start of play.
As Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Gammons, Detroit isn't doing anything wrong, nor should the Tigers' accomplishments be sullied if they continue to win baseball games this month.
"All we’re doing is abiding by the rules," Leyland said.
Those came about through a ratified collective bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB. Every member of the Red Sox roster is in the union, thus accepting of the rules and regulations they fought to bargain and earn.
Of course, this shouldn't come as a surprise out of Boston. During a Yankees-Red Sox series in August, just weeks after Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez's return to the field while appealing his 211-game suspension, John Lackey had this to say to The Boston Globe:
I've got a problem with it. You bet I do. How is he still playing? He obviously did something, and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right...It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I've been facing him.
While the Rodriguez and Peralta situations are slightly different (Rodriguez was playing during a suspension through an appeal, while Peralta has already served his full suspension), the bottom line remains the same: The MLBPA argued for these rights. John Lackey and every other member of the Red Sox roster belongs to the MLBPA.
If they don't like the rules, petition to change them during the offseason. If they think Rodriguez's bat impacted the pennant race or Peralta's current hot streak is changing the postseason, there are two simple and distinct solutions: Get them out at the plate or complain to the union at the appropriate time.
Although the Red Sox are easy to beat up here, this sentiment seems to be floating around the game, perpetuating the thinking that rule-breakers should be treated differently if the games they are participating in have extra meaning.
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria had similar sentiments as Lackey in August, no doubt stemming from the fact that Rodriguez's production could have cost Tampa a postseason spot. During an interview with Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina, Longoria said of Rodriguez's return, "I don’t think it’s fair for the other teams, because I’m in the American League East."
Not only are players like Lackey, Longoria and the unnamed Red Sox players questioning the merit of the CBA they ratified, they are admitting the only reason it matters is because the player in question is appearing in meaningful games. If the New York Mets have activated Jordany Valdespin after his 50-game, Biogenesis-related suspension was completed, it's hard to believe anyone would have said a word.
Furthermore, a story like this wouldn't have come out of Boston if a current member of the Red Sox's 25-man roster was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, served a suspension and returned. The same can be said for Longoria's view if a suspension was handed down to one of his Tampa Bay teammates.
Inconvenience shouldn't trump logic, but when it comes to baseball players attempting to justify a rule they put into place, anything goes.
The idea of suspended players returning and producing in October is uncomfortable for the sport, but consistent within the rules of the game right now. Until those rules change during a collectively bargained contract, stories and questions about Jhonny Peralta's bat tainting or changing the Tigers' run through October are nothing more than sour grapes.
Do the Red Sox have a valid point?