Just a week after Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance (and tried to cover it up with a fake web site) and was banned for 50 games by major league baseball, news comes today that pitcher Bartolo Colon of the Oakland A’s has failed a drug test and is getting hit with a 50-game suspension, too.
So, a couple of quick thoughts:
–Colon had been a kind of feel-good story, having won the Cy Young Award while playing for the Angels in 2005 but falling victim to a horrible elbow that threatened his career. But “stem-cell treatment” had put Colon back in baseball as an effective pitcher. Yeah, stem-cell treatments and PEDS, apparently.
–What’s going on in the Bay Area? Two contending teams, two positive drugs tests. Maybe the BALCO experience lives on up there.
–I had a discussion with a friend recently about why players cheat like this. My thinking (cynical as a sport writer, as you would expect) is that if there is one more dollar to be chased, people will cheat to get it. Major League Baseball players have a finite time they can earn money, just like other athletes. Melky Cabrera is in a contract year and was looking for one more last big contract. Colon was looking to regain his form as a pitcher who can make $10-$12 million a year. Follow the money, and you will find PEDS.
–Earlier this week on Twitter local radio host Julie Buehler of KXPS was she didn’t believe 50 percent of players are using, like the former executive of BALCO says. But these two tests don’t do much to say the number is under 10 percent. So what is the number? Do I have 20 percent? Do I hear 25? Who will give me 30? And when will the clean players in the game rise up against their own union and demand more be done to clean up the sport and take everyone out from under the cloud of suspicion.
–On one had, it is good that the drug testing is working. But the fact that two fairly decent players have been hit with suspensions indicate that players are still more than willing to risk being caught. Perhaps a stiffer penalty than a 50-game suspension is needed. Say, 100-games to start, and the second positive test and you are done?
–Among the players on the ballot for the baseball Hall of Fame next year are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Raphael Palmeiro and still Mark McGwire. Does the rash of positive tests among major leagues bring more attention to those players and their admitted or alleged use of PEDS? And does that increased attention helps the potential Hall of Famers, because if shows more and more people are using and have been using, or does it hurt them because voters will want to make a greater statement against PEDS in the game.