Wednesday, October 9, 2013

6 comments It's Not Like the MLB Playoffs Are Going On or Anything, So Christine Brennan Keeps Talking about Steroids

On the eve of the Detroit Tigers ALDS series against the Oakland Athletics, Christine Brennan wasn't really concerned with analyzing the series, talking about how the Athletics made the playoffs yet again, discussing how the Tigers made the playoffs yet again or comparing the A's payroll to the Tigers payroll. Hell no. She wanted to talk about what she loves to talk about and that's steroids and PED's. She wants to throw Ryan Braun out of baseball, doesn't like A-Rod for being a snitch, and thinks PED users should not make the All-Star game. Brennan also has a bizarre fascination with comparing MLB's drug policy to the Olympic drug policy. I guess that's really her best example to make her case that MLB has a weak drug policy, since if she compared MLB's drug policy to other major sports like the NBA and NFL then this would help her readers understand that MLB isn't perfect in regard to steroid testing, but at least they have a strong policy that has identified the issue of PED use in the sport of baseball. And really, it's all about making her point look strong as opposed to giving the reader information that doesn't fit the agenda Brennan may have. So Christine Brennan thinks the Tigers should not have allowed Jhonny Peralta to participate in the playoffs. Personally, I'm more annoyed by the way Peralta spells "Jhonny" because I am constantly misspelling it and then having to spend precious seconds correcting myself.

Jhonny Peralta deserves nothing but scorn from the Detroit Tigers and their fans. He is a cheater, a title that will follow him for the rest of his career.

Thanks Mitch Albom. We will be sure to make a note about your moral grandstanding.

"Ah! Steroids are bad! What about the kids? Steroids make kids use guns and listen to rap music. Ban it all!"

If Major League Baseball had the tough drug-testing policy it should have, Peralta would have been suspended for a year or two, not just 50 games,

I think MLB could probably tighten their drug policy a bit, but I don't get the idea the current policy isn't the one MLB "should have." Compared to what? The Olympics? I'm speculating the Olympics have such a strict drug policy because it's an international competition where different countries would normally hold their athletes to a different standard as compared to other countries. Some countries would be lenient in drug testing, others would not, so the IOC has a strict policy that doesn't leave much room for interpretation.

If any other sports have a stricter drug-testing policy then it should be the NBA and the NFL. If Peralta were a first-time offender in the NFL then he would miss four games, which is 25% of the season. Peralta as a first-time offender in MLB missed 30.8% of the season. So MLB's drug policy could be strengthened but it's not like they are just letting first-time offenders off the hook with a slap on the back and promise not to do it ever again.

But because MLB hasn't yet caught up with the Olympic drug testing model of two years for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second,

I'm not entirely sure why MLB needs to catch up with the Olympic model. It's not like they are comparable entities. One is an international organization that polices hundreds of countries who may send amateur athletes to compete in athletic events once every four years and the other is a professional baseball league that polices 30 teams that encompass two countries. Besides, the Olympic drug testing model of two years for the first offense means a first offender of the drug policy may miss zero Olympic action. At least if an MLB player is a first-time offender he misses actual MLB games with a 50 game suspension.

He played in three games at the end of the regular season, leaving the Tigers with a fitting moral dilemma for their American League Division Series starting Friday in Oakland: eschew all responsibility as leaders in the community and use him in the playoffs,

Okay, drama queen. Let's take a step back and not get all on our high horse's high horse. Allowing Jhonny Peralta to play in the playoffs after he has served his penalty for PED use isn't eschewing all responsibility as a leader in the community. Regardless of whether Christine Brennan likes the penalty for a first time offense of the MLB drug policy, Peralta has done his time. I may not like the length of the penalty that a ex-con received for his crime of committing fraud, but it's silly of me to claim anybody who offers this ex-con a job is eschewing all responsibility as leaders in the community. I do realize sportswriters love being the judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to PED's, but I think it's this type of attitude that must stop.

or follow the admirable example of the San Francisco Giants last year in the Melky Cabrera case and do the right thing – keep Peralta out of the postseason, likely ending his days in Detroit.

Oh ok, this is the right thing. Got it. Acknowledging that Peralta has done his time and allowing him to play in the playoffs after serving his suspension isn't the right thing to do. Glad this is a fact and not merely an opinion.

They brought in Jose Iglesias to replace him at shortstop, but they want his bat in the lineup – Peralta hit .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games this season – so it appears they're making a place for him in left field, where Peralta is not known as a top-flight defensive player.

I like how Christine Brennan includes the comment "where Peralta is not known as a top-flight defensive player" as if the Tigers are allowing Peralta to play at the expense of the Tigers team as a whole. She wants to make it seem like the Tigers are such terrible leaders of the community they would actually hurt the franchise's chances of winning the World Series to get a cheating, PED-using Peralta into the lineup.

The Tigers not only will allow Peralta play in the ALDS, but they will allow Peralta to play at the expense of the team's chances to win a playoff series. The Tigers love steroids more than they love their fans.

"If you accept that bat, then you'd be willing to accept what happens in left field," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the other day.

This appeared to work out well for the Red Sox when they had Manny Ramirez in left field. Not that Peralta is Manny Ramirez of course. Peralta has only been busted for using PED's once in his career, not twice.

But there are others in the Tigers organization who should know better, who should realize that this decision should be about much more than baseball strategy.

It's about the kids. It's about morality. It's about the fate of the world---no---the fate of humanity on all worlds. If Jhonny Peralta plays left field for the Tigers how will Madam Zersatas on Planet Volto explain it to her 76 young geezellos?

It's a referendum, frankly, on just how serious Major League clubs really are about cleaning up their sport's very serious steroid problem.

No, it's not. How the Tigers treat Jhonny Peralta is no more a referendum on how serious Major League clubs really are about cleaning up the sport's very serious steroid problem (I love the drama in this sentence...Christine Brennan takes PED use VERY seriously) any more than how the Giants handled Melky Cabrera was a referendum on how serious Major League clubs really are about cleaning up the sport. It's all up to each individual team and how each individual team treats a PED user who has served his suspension only speaks for the opinion of that team.

Using the Tigers as our test case, presuming they play Peralta, we have our answer: Not very. They are nowhere near ready to do what they really must to rid their sport of performance-enhancing drugs.

I'll play Brennan's wicked little game. So if the Tigers did sit Peralta would that show MLB teams are ready to get rid of PED's in the game? Would it? Or would it only show the Tigers are going to continue to punish Peralta despite having served his time? Christine Brennan can't truly believe other MLB teams would follow the lead of the Tigers by sitting their players who are suspended for PED use. Why didn't the Giants benching of Cabrera last year show that MLB teams are ready to get serious about PED's in the sport? After all, if teams could set an example, then the Giants have set an example already with Melky Cabrera. I guess that lesson didn't take...assuming one MLB team can influence other MLB teams like Christine Brennan so naively believes.

A 50-game suspension here and there just won't cut it. That's the Olympic equivalent of stripping Ben Johnson's 100-meter gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but allowing him to run in the men's 4x100-meter relay a week later. 

It's not really like that at all. It's like stripping Ben Johnson of his gold medal and not allowing him to run in any men's events for 50 more races.

It would have been unthinkable, even then, in the Olympic world.

Not at all. If Ben Johnson got caught after the Olympics were over then he would be banned for two years and then could participate in the next Olympics if he qualified. Christine Brennan just stated first-time Olympic drug policy offenders get a two year ban and the Olympics happen every four years.'s not entirely unthinkable that an Olympian could be busted for violating the IOC drug policy and then not miss any following Olympic event.

To make a strong statement to your team and to the young people watching it play,

I knew it would eventually all come back around to "the kids." It always does whenever a sanctimonious sportswriter starts discussing PED use in baseball.

a club has to take away meaningful things from cheating players.

It's not the club's job to take meaningful things away from cheating players. It's the job of MLB to do this based on the drug policy agreement between MLB and the player's union. MLB is responsible for suspending these players and MLB teams have no obligation to take away something meaningful from cheating players as if these players were children who need their blocks taken away for being bad.

Clearly, the Tigers have no inclination to do that, which is all the more disappointing because they were given the perfect primer on this subject last year by the Giants, who, ironically, ended up beating them in the World Series.

It's interesting how the positive message sent by the Giants last year had no effect on other MLB teams to suspend first-time PED users for the playoffs, but Christine Brennan is under the impression if the Tigers sent a positive message this year then all MLB teams would reconsider their sinful ways and get back to being the good leaders in the community she knows they can be. It's very naive to think MLB teams aren't going to do what is best for the team.

As important as Peralta is to the Tigers this year, Cabrera was more important to the Giants last year.

Hmmm...the snide part of me says "obviously not" since the Giants won the World Series without Cabrera and the logical part of me says an All-Star shortstop is worth more than an All-Star outfielder...but that may just be me.

Sadly, the Tigers have bungled the Peralta situation from the beginning. The day that he was suspended, Leyland of course was asked about him. Instead of taking the opportunity to talk to kids about cheating, 

Enough of this crap about how it's hurting the kids and how Jim Leyland has an obligation to give a lecture about the dangers of steroid use. Leyland is the manager of the Detroit Tigers, not the overseer of all things moral in baseball. He doesn't have the time or the obligation to perform a public service announcement because one of his players was busted for using PED's.

or mention the dangers of PEDs, or offer any worthwhile thoughts at all, Leyland replied, "See ya guys. You were told I wasn't going to comment on that," and his pre-game news conference was over in less than 90 seconds.

Leyland had already stated he wasn't going to comment on that. Yet these sportswriters insisted on asking him the question. What do they think Leyland is? Why the hell would he talk to kids about the dangers of cheating or mention the dangers of PED's at one of his press conferences prior to a game?

Based on that performance, it's no surprise that the mistakes keep on coming in Detroit.

Get off your soapbox. Peralta did his time and now he is eligible to play baseball again for the Tigers. The Tigers have chosen to allow him to participate in the ALDS. This doesn't mean the Tigers promote the use of steroids or they don't care about "the kids." It simply means they understand Peralta did his time for a first-time offense of the MLB drug policy and will allow him to participate in the ALDS.

I also find it continually hilarious that sportswriters like Christine Brennan act like MLB's drug policy fosters a system of cheaters who escape punishment for using PED's. MLB's drug policy for first-time offenders is stronger than the drug policy of any other major sport in the United States.


Anonymous said...

I cannot stand when sportswriters start throwing around terms like "the right thing" or "should be." Who the hell are they to determine what the right thing is, or what should be done? You're right Ben, they act as judge, jury and executioner. In this article, she throws around her opinion like it's fact. "If major league baseball had the strong drug testing policy it should have..." excuse me?

I could agree with these people, to a point. I don't want PEDs in sports either. But these penalties are collectively bargained, what do you want to do about them? I don't think they're soft, either. 50 games is a lot in the average major leaguer's career. Roger Clemens might last 20+ years, but the average player is lucky to make it to 5.

I continue to reiterate that the NFL continues to get a free pass here. Players get bigger and stronger, no big deal. Vernon Davis can run a 4.4 40 at 260 lbs., completely natural. Clay Matthews developed from a walk-on at USC to one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, I'm sure that happens all the time. Even the players that we know used, do not have to carry a scarlet A on their chest. When was the last time anyone mentioned Julius Peppers' 4-game suspension as a rookie? The guy runs a 4.6 40 at 280 lbs., nothing to see here.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I'm fine with baseball having a stronger drug policy, but these sportswriters act like MLB is behind other major sports in terms of drug testing. It's not true. The reason these players get caught is because MLB has a strict testing policy and makes an effort to get rid of PED's from MLB. Sure, Bud Selig and company are not perfect and screw up a lot, but I think they have a pretty strict policy at this least comparatively.

The writers do want to be the ones to be judge, jury, and executioner. They stick their head in the sand during the 90's and now they go on a rampage about PED's in the sport.

The NFL gets a huge free pass, as does the NBA. I had forgotten that Peppers had a four game suspension. I think it's somewhat expected of players in the NBA or NFL for some reason. Not sure why. I'm tired of talking about PED's.

jacktotherack said...

Remember all the stuff I said in the Reilly post about the Redskins name change? Pretty much exactly how I feel with sports-writers who keep harping on the whole steroid issue. Just seem like desperate attempts to show they are on the "right side" of an issue when there is LITERALLY nothing new that can be said on the subject.

Anonymous said...

But because MLB hasn't yet caught up with the Olympic drug testing model of two years for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second,

You made a great point about this. Textbook example of begging the question.

Snarf said...

I continue to find it so inane the way that many sportswriters feel the need to get on their high horses regarding players who are suspended for PED usage. They go on and on as though the player serving his suspension as dictated by the CBA and drug policy is somehow catching a break or escaping punishment. These suspensions are for cheating cheaters who cheat, so I don't understand the insinuation that these guys are getting off easy or the team/league is turning a blind eye when they serve these mandated suspension lengths.

Now, one thing I would recommend changing about the policy, assuming my understanding is correct, is that the teams should still be on the hook for that player's salary. It should go to some fund for youth steroid prevention, research for concussions, ALS, issues caused by steroids, etc. and so on. The idea that the Yankees would get out of A-Rod's contract is insane to me. If teams are financially on the hook for these guys, rather than just without their services while suspended, then I think we would see much more vigilance on the part of teams and a greater reluctance to sign repeat offenders to lucrative contracts (thus dampening the financial incentive of players to use). If I am misunderstanding the policy and its impact on teams, then scrap my comments and move along.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, nothing new at all. They are still VERY VERY OUTRAGED though.

Anon, I don't get the Olympic comparison. While I wouldn't mind baseball going to a very strict ban like that, I don't see how the Olympics are comparable to MLB.

Snarf, I write these posts and I keep thinking, "Am I stupid for not caring as much as I care? Should I bet outraged?" and always end up thinking probably not. Peralta paid his penalty, he's back. Don't blame the Tigers and don't blame Peralta for him playing in the playoffs. It's an organizational decision and I think it's defensible since he has paid his penalty.

I think it is funny to hear ideas that a player's contract should void when he gets caught. I imagine a lot of players wouldn't mind that. Think Mike Trout isn't going to go shoot up PED's and then ask to be drug tested so he can skip arbitration and get straight to free agency.

The whole "he loses his contract" idea only works for players like A-Rod. Otherwise, you would have guys who signed team-friendly deals trying to get caught using PED's. 50 games is worth free agency to some.

Actually, maybe that's why Brian McCann has been so angry all year. He has been using PED's to try and get out of his contract early.