Of Manny And Canseco

June 23

            The steroid issue … those who haven’t clicked off this blog immediately are rolling their eyes, but the issue won’t go away.  Why?  Because baseball didn’t put out the fire, and fans aren’t helping.

            Manny Ramirez was cheered and signed autographs in Albuquerque last night, playing a tune-up game for the Dodgers’ Triple-A club before he returns July 3rd.  He will get the same reception in L.A. in ten days.

            Manny is hardly a picture of contrition. 

            Players like Manny will continue to look for ways to cheat because there isn’t enough of a disincentive.  The money and fame are still there, even if you get caught and penalized.  The penalties aren’t strong enough.  Manny gets to return and play ten days before his suspension is supposed to be done, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement.

            Manny is basically laughing at baseball.  He can talk about how people love him because he gets adulation even in supposed infamy.  The man was dinged for 50 games and several million bucks, and doesn’t seem to care !

            Why should he?  Baseball was way behind the curve on Manny,  only inadvertently caught him, and he already has millions in the bank.  The 50 game (or 40 day) penalty is not enough.  A couple of years ago I proposed a one month-one year-lifetime ban for the first three strikes, but now that isn’t enough.

           Baseball needs to get even tougher, test randomly, and include blood testing for HGH and other substances.  A one-year ban for a first offense, lifetime for a second.  If baseball is serious about the steroid era, that’s what it will do.  All other talk is empty.

           Until then, the ghosts of juicers past will continue to haunt the game.  Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were the elephants not in the room last night as the A’s honored their 1989 championship team.  Canseco claims he was never invited, the A’s say he was, but this much is clear — Canseco burned that bridge, not the A’s.  When you rat, you are going to be persona non grata.  When you rat for personal financial gain, you’re even worse.  Canseco can whine all he wants, he made the bed in which he currently lies.

           Canseco gets kudos for honesty well after the fact, and most of what he said in his book was true, but he didn’t write the book to help “the kids.”  He wrote it to help Jose.  Canseco is a cautionary tale, not simply because he took steroids but because of other poor choices he made. 

           Canseco became a highly-paid superstar due to steroids.  The incentive is still there for others.  I guarantee you, the ends still justify the means in the minds of some players.  Baseball can change that and with new leadership for the players’ union, now is the time to act. 

            Will it?  Doubtful.  In Bud we trust?  Not likely.  However, the solution is obvious.

           One year ban, then lifetime ban, random testing, blood testing.  Get it done now.  The science might always be ahead of the testing, but at least take away some of the incentive to cheat.  Let the steroid era die a slow death, which ironically is the same fate awaiting many of the most ardent users. 

           I’m tired of cheaters.

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