MLB Power Rankings: Worst Positive Drug Test Excuses in League History
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
We’ve all heard of Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez and their “alleged” flirtation with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). We know about Andy Pettitte (just seems like an inordinate amount of t’s in his name), and his admitted drug abuse in order to get a leg up on the competition in Major League Baseball.
Alex Rodriguez has been called “A-Roid” more times in a season than there are pennies in his ridiculously bloated contract. PEDs were, and probably will continue to be, a big problem in the big leagues.
With that in mind, I have researched a few excuses provided by the rule-breaking players and here are a few that caught my attention.
Unfortunately, there are plenty more cheaters and excuses out there, so please share them with me in the comments section.
Also, let me know your thoughts on PEDs in the MLB.
Do you think the game should just allow them? Would it be a better game for the fans if the players could legally juice? Should it be their choice since it’s their body? Let me know. Thanks.
A Little History
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
First, let’s start with a little history on the MLB’s PED policy.
Originally, in 2004, random offseason testing provided us with a 10-day suspension for first timers, a 30-day suspension for those who break the rule a second time, a 60-day for the third and a full year suspension for the fourth violation.
In 2005, the United States Congress had evidently wrapped up all of the people’s business and fixed every problem for which they were elected, thus leaving them to address the pressing issue of PED abuse in America’s favorite pastime.
Yes, Congress did not think that the MLB’s self-imposed regulation over its players was strict enough and thus pressured the brass to step it up.
This led to a 50-game suspension for a first offense, a 100-game suspension for the second and a Pete Rose-type ban from baseball upon the third offense. A true three strikes, and you’re out rule. How clever.
David Seelig/Getty Images
While none of the following have reached the third strike, there are a few that will never set foot on a baseball diamond again, if not for their age, then for their drug abuse.
Lying under oath to Congress can’t help too much either. You really want to try to avoid doing that if you can.
We’re going to start with a man who had a long and prosperous career. Rafael Palmeiro with the Baltimore Orioles was oh-so-close to surmounting the impressive 3,000 hits mark when he happened to test positive and receive a 10-day suspension.
Raffy had this to say about the illegal substances found in his body. “I did not do this intentionally or knowingly.” Then he continued, “I made a mistake. I hope people learn from my mistake and I hope the fans forgive me.”
Um, so I have a question. If you did not do anything intentionally then why are you apologizing and asking for forgiveness? That kind of makes you sound a little guilty to me, sir.
Lloyd and Harry
David Lutman/Getty Images
NY Yankees Matt Lawton and Seattle Mariners Mike Morse both received 10-day suspensions in 2005 for violating the drug policy. Unlike most other players, these guys admitted to breaking the rules and accepted their punishment. They were actually honest about their dishonesty (weird sentence).
They apologized to a long list of people including their fans, organization, the game and lastly their families.
Really? You apologize to your family last?
Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m staring down thorough embarrassment, a loss of my income and ability to support my wife and children in the manner to which they are accustomed, a loss of trust and a loss of my son’s or daughter’s pride in their father, then I’m probably going to apologize to my family first and foremost.
Call me crazy, but apologizing to “the game” (an inanimate object) before loved ones seems just a bit more stupid than taking the actual banned substances.
Dumb = taking a banned substance
Dumber = apologizing to your family last
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Ryan Franklin, when accused of violating the MLB drug policy, was a pitcher for the Mariners. In 2005, Franklin had this to say in retort to his positive test. “There is a flaw in the testing or my urine got mixed up with somebody else’s. They said that couldn’t happen, but I don’t believe it.”
For whatever reason, Franklin’s comment makes me think of the end of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark when the ark was crated and hidden in a humongous warehouse filled with like and indistinguishable boxes.
Just imagine all of those millions of crates are actually cups of urine samples, and some dude on his lunch break is sitting at a lone desk in the middle of the pee.
He’s eating his spicy Italian sub sandwich, licking his fingers clean and taking a swig of lemon lime Gatorade before wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
Yeah Ryan, you may have a point.
Bay Cities in Santa Monica Makes the Best Italian Subs
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Felix Heredia, a pitcher with the New York Mets in 2005, received a 10-day suspension for his first offense. He wouldn’t give a statement about his rule breaking.
By the way, nothing says guilty like refusing to personally acknowledge the situation. He was, however, “brave” enough to allow his agent to speak on his behalf. Heredia’s agent said, “He didn’t knowingly take it.”
How do you not knowingly take something? How do you not know when you are performing an action? When I take stuff, I know I’m taking stuff. Like, for instance, I’m going to take a break right now and get an Italian sub and some lemon lime Gatorade. I’ve suddenly got a hankering.
A Comic Friend Once Told Me That Making Fun of Himself Always Gets Laughs
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Alex Sanchez, an outfielder for the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was also suspended for 10 days. Sanchez, like the other alleged and confirmed cheaters who have already been dishonest when it comes to their career, saw no reason not continue to be dishonest in his defense once caught?
Sanchez however used a different tactic.
He decided the best defense to dishonesty was blatant honesty. Upon testing positive Sanchez exclaimed, “I take some kind of stuff I buy over the counter. Stuff to give me energy. I’m surprised because look what kind of player I am. I never hit any home runs.”
The self-deprecation defense is one of my favorites.
If at First You Don't Succeed, Try Getting Suspended Again
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
Neifi Perez, suspended in July of 2007 for 25 games and then again in August of 2007 for 80 games, had another of my favorite responses to a positive drug test.
The first time, Perez said, “I say to my fans that I am not stupid.” Then Perez was caught cheating the second time and suspended for 80 games, prompting him to say, “I know the difference between good and bad and there are things that are going to be known going forward.”
Things like you definitely know the difference between good and bad? Because you keep choosing bad.
Then Perez went further and told us, “My lawyer has advised me not to talk for now.”
Well, way to follow his advice buddy. I’m no rocket scientist but I think he would have preferred you follow his advice from the outset—not after you’ve already opened your mouth on the subject.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Has anybody ever seen those stupid criminal shows on television where the thief breaks into a 7-11 convenience store, steals a Twinkie and some Rainex, then pauses to wave to the security camera on his way out? Well, we have a similar story here.
Jay Gibbons, an outfielder for the Orioles in 2007 received a 15-game suspension. To his credit, Gibbons took full responsibility for taking steroids, but that’s not the best part.
The best part is that Gibbons had no choice but to come clean because, much like that stupid criminal who waved to the security camera, Gibbons thought he was so untouchable that he actually charged the HGH to his credit card.
Evidently the local ATM was out of cash, I guess.
I Can See Clearly Now
Nick Laham/Getty Images
J.C. Romero of the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies was suspended for 50 games.
Romero still cannot see where he did something wrong. This is evident in his response.
“I still cannot see where I did something wrong. I tried to follow the rules. There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates.”
Well J.C., nothing except maybe your PED usage.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Another brilliant defensive move akin to receiving a smaller sentence in exchange for ratting on your partner in crime was employed by Jason Grimsley. Grimsley, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was suspended in 2006 for 50 games.
Grimsley, evidently not possessing the stones to make a statement himself, spoke through an affidavit to the US Attorney’s office. He employed the art of deflection by naming names. Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, and the aforementioned Jay Gibbons were named as PED users.
I’m sure Grimsley was lacking in Christmas cards received that year.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Speaking of PED users who name names, has anybody ever heard of Jose Canseco?
Canseco is just a class act who cheated and made a lot of money doing so. Then, once his career was over, he was classed as a PED user. So, he decided it would be easier to take his medicine by writing a tell-all book fingering other prominent baseball drug users.
I’ve got to be honest though, if you’re going to go down as a rat it makes sense to do it by way of a New York Times best seller.
Does anyone else love watching this guy run around NYC with Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice? That’s just great TV.
Nice to Meet You, Ben
Andy Pettitte is a New York Yankee who gave my favorite answer when asked if he took PEDs.
Pettitte said, “Yes.” Love the honesty, Andy. He’s the only player that I’ve seen who looked genuinely sorry for what he’d done and not just sorry for getting caught.
But, Andy’s bestest BFF took a very different stance.
Roger Clemens, who knows more about Pettitte than he does his own wife, claims he was shocked to find out that Andy used PEDs. Oh, and by the way, Clemen's own wife used PEDs to get in shape for a photo shoot and Roger evidently knew about that. Now where would Mrs. Roger have gotten her hands on those drugs? Hmmm…
Hey Rog, Pettitte said “yes” and everyone has forgiven and forgotten. You, however, will now possibly have the opportunity to explain how you never used steroids to your future cellmate, Ben Dover.
Bet you wish you were all roided-up now.
Feel My Tummy, It's Kicking
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
My favorite performance enhancing drug usage story however comes to us courtesy of ex-Los Angeles Dodger, Manny Ramirez.
Manny said “[A doctor] gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me.”
Really Manny? He gave you a woman’s fertility drug (human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG). Now, much like me not being a rocket scientist, I am also not pretending to be a medical doctor and so the following is taken directly from webmd.com.
“HCG" in pregnancy.
An egg is normally fertilized by a sperm cell in a fallopian tube. Within nine days after fertilization the fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube into the uterus and attaches (implants) to the uterine wall. Once the fertilized egg implants, the developing placenta begins releasing HCG into your blood. Some HCG also gets passed in your urine. HCG can be found in the blood before the first missed menstrual period, as early as six days after implantation.
HCG helps to maintain your pregnancy and affects the development of your baby (fetus). Levels of HCG increase steadily in the first 14 to 16 weeks following your last menstrual period (LMP).”
Manny, in the above, what exactly applied to you?
Yes, Manny you may answer through an interpreter even though you speak fluent English (What’s that all about anyway? Why does he do that?)
"Mr. Interpreter can you please ask Mr. Ramirez if we are correct in assuming that the MLB drug test was administered around the same time that Mr. Ramirez experienced his first missed menstrual period thus making this positive result just a bad coincidence?
And in a follow-up question, how is your baby doing these days?"
It's just Manny being Maria.
Wrapping It Up and a Little Trivia
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
In conclusion, Wikipedia tells us that two teams have tied for most players suspended for breaking the MLB’s drug policy. Each had six players test positive so far. Can you guess who those teams are?
I know there are a lot more out there and I’m sure you also have your favorites. Please share them with me in the comments section. I look forward to reading them.