Both ownership and players have come a long way since the dog days of Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, et al. The Player’s Association especially has made great strides in recognizing the problem and so far they’ve been able to walk that tightrope between representing the offending individual while still keeping the overwhelming majority of members in mind and doing what’s best overall for their constituents.
Can’t really say the same by and large for owners who chose to sleepwalk through the debacle in the Nineties. After all, as George Steinbrenner used to say about Reggie Jackson, “Hey, he puts asses in the seats”. And of course to that way of thinking, asses = profits. And nothing in baseball draws the excitement of fans more than a towering home run off the scoreboard. Nevertheless , ownership has come around even if they had to be bullied by fans and media to do so.
And yet, despite the “crackdown” suspensions are still being handed out – the latest of which went to last year’s NL Batting Champion Dee Gordon for 80 games. There undoubtedly will be more this season and all seasons.
So the question bears asking is this…….why isn’t the crackdown working………and what can be done to eliminate this ugly blot on our sport……..
Dee Gordon and all the others always use the “Gee officer, I didn’t know the speed limit was only 35 here”. Or in this case, “I didn’t know what I was putting in my body”. Hey stupid, that’s why teams employ trainers and pay them well so you can ASK before you leap.
But that’s not the point which is that this man won a batting title and was rewarded with a lucrative contract that should (if he’s not really as stupid as he claims he is) set him up for life. And therein lies the problem that needs to be fixed with alacrity or this thing will never end.
So how about if we said to Mr. Gordon (and all like him)……”Tell ya what, you are not being suspended for 80 games. You must show up for work everyday (and be in the lineup) so your teammates do not have to suffer………..AND……….the contract you signed over the winter is hereby voided and come next off season Mr. Gordon, you can start all over and see what your services command in the marketplace then”.
How do you like them apples? But seriously, ya gotta hit ’em where it hurts……..in that fat wallet they now carry around.
Obviously, the King (Commissioner Manfred) cannot step in and make this happen with an edict from the throne. It has to be part of the negotiating process and next year will be an opportune time to do so with the expiration of the bargaining agreement in December.
By and large, players who don’t cheat are fed up with the ones that do. Terry Collins, the New York Mets manager, maybe said what players are leery of saying about their colleagues when he told the Wall Street Journal, ” His (Gordon’s) whole team is now going to suffer for this,” Collins said. “Not just him. I just don’t understand how you can do that to your teammates.”
So maybe I’m crediting a player Dee Gordon with too much thinking power, but I think he figured it out…….if I can do something to separate myself from everyone else (like winning a batting title)….albeit by cheating….I can break the bank and even if I get caught (if I do), I still break the bank.
That needs to be taken out of the equation entirely. Until it is, there will remain a parade of players who see their just desserts coming to them anyway and anyhow. Meanwhile, the “good guys” continue to suffer the dread and frustration of peeing into a cup just because of the few who see cheating as a substitution for lack of ability with big dollars at the end of the rainbow…..