By Dean Hockney
Publisher, Sports Journal of Central Indiana
Is this it? Has Major League Baseball finally cleaned up America’s Pastime? Commissioner Bud Selig announced on Monday that 12 players accepted suspensions of 50 games and New York Yankee’s third baseman and three-time MLB Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez was suspended through the end of the 2014 season, although he intends to appeal that suspension and is currently playing for the Bronx Bombers.
“Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation,” Selig said in a statement. “Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez’s suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.”
Three players accepting the suspensions are Texas Rangers catcher Nelson Cruz, San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta – all three are All-Star performers. Other players include Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher; Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees catcher (on disabled list); Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets outfielder (currently in minor leagues); Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners catcher (minor league); Cesar Puello, Mets outfielder (minor league); Sergio Escalona, Houston Astros pitcher (minor league); Fernando Martinez, Yankees outfielder (minor league); Fautino De Los Santos, free-agent pitcher; and Jordan Norberto, free-agent pitcher.
“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process,” Rodriguez said in a release. “I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this.”
These suspensions come on top of the Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension. Braun was the 2011 MLB MVP who seems to be out of his denial stage and has accepted his portion of this growing scandal.
Many, including myself, had hoped the steroid and performance enhancing drug black eye on baseball was gone with the Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Jose Conseco era. But it just keeps popping up its ugly head. So maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end of baseball being linked to illegal drugs. But I just can’t believe it is. I have listened to players and commentators on the MLB Network say this is different. They are saying that this time, the players want PED’s out of the game. But do they? What is different between Braun and A-Rod getting busted than what happened during the Conseco era?
I, for one, will make the assumption that some professional athletes will always try and find a way to beat the system by filling their bodies with non-natural substances. They will soar to All-Star status only to fall towards the end of their careers in disgrace. The steroids of the 1980s and 90s are the human growth hormones of today and the who-knows-what of the 2020’s. For too long, baseball turned a blind eye to PED’s and now they seem to never go away. Maybe this time, just maybe, the players we all love to watch will take this seriously and fight the blight of PED’s in America’s Pastime.
Evan Longoria, a three-time All-Star for the Tampa Bay Rays, tweeted: “Today is a sad day for MLB, the fans of this great game, and all players who may have been negatively affected by other’s selfishness. Ultimately, although today will be a day of infamy for MLB, it is a tremendous step in the right direction for the game we love.”
I sure hope Evan is right.
Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.
Dean Hockney is the owner/publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana and sports editor of the Kokomo Herald. His column can be found each week on the last page of the Sports Journal. You can follow Hockney on Twitter (@Sports_Journal).