Should the MLB create and ‘Once and Done’ rule for PED users?

Major League Baseball has had a problem with its players taking performance enhancing drugs for years, but the fans are finally starting to speak out about it. Despite the disgust shown by fans for steroid users, the league has only recently started cracking down on their drug policy, fans across the country are wondering why the MLB has not introduced a Once and Done rule, where if you test positive just once, you’re banned from baseball.

The MLB first started drug testing during the 2003 season, but had no punishment in place for positive results. On Nov. 13 of that year, the MLB announced that between 5 and 7 percent of the 1,438 random tests came back positive. The first suspensions were then given in 2004, where a first time offense was just a 15-game suspension. Even after 3 positive tests, players were suspended just 50 games, less than half of the regular season.

According to the current MLB Drug Policy, updated last in 2015, any player who has tested positive for PEDs has three chances before getting banned for life. On the first offense, the suspension is 80 games, roughly half of a season, without pay. A second positive drug test results in a 162-game suspension, the length of a full season, again without pay. It isn’t until after a third failed drug test that a player is banned for life. However, after two years of being banned, a player can ask for a reinstatement hearing with the commissioner.

The lenient punishments Major League Baseball has threatened potential steroid users with has caused players like Alex Rodriguez to be suspended 3 separate times for either admitting to, or testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. There was also Ryan Braun, who was awarded the National League MVP in 2011, but tested positive for steroids in the off-season. He accepted his 65-game suspension, but was still able to keep his award for being the most valuable player. Players who have been accused of steroid use are the ones that get the most abuse from fans at the ballpark. Ryan Braun was booed, even at a Brewers spring training game after his test came back positive. Alex Rodriguez also made himself one of the most hated players in the league because of his steroid use.

 

A place in the The Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, NY, is the highest honor and ultimate goal for player who puts on a major league uniform. Greats like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willy Mays and Ty Cobb are memorialized in the Hall of Fame, greats that played the game and earned their respect with blood, sweat and tears, not by putting a needle in their arm. One Hall of Famer, Jim Bunning, who pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers from 1955 to 1971, expresses his concern for rewarding players who have ties to steroid use with a spot enshrined in Cooperstown. “When I played ball with Hank Aaron, Willy Mays, and Ted Williams, they didn’t put on 40 pounds of bulk in their careers, and they didn’t hit more homers in their late thirties than they did in their late twenties. It’s disturbing to see that trend today.”

The fans seem to agree with Bunning’s stance on players like Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens. In the most recent ballot for the Hall of Fame, both players came up very short of the 75 percent approval vote from baseball writers. Only two players reached that mark, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Piazza.

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Poll from NPR

Personally, my biggest issue with people who use chemicals to get ahead of the competition takes away what America’s past time is really about. This sport has seen great players from across the globe spend their whole lives training, and then risking their lives for a chance to play baseball in the United States. The example that baseball fans remember now is the late Jose Fernandez, who pitched for the Miami Marlins, but tragically lost his life in a boating accident this past September. He was a young phenom who loved the game, and played it cleanly. He kept the integrity of the game, and showed his passion with every pitch. Watching players like him, who risk everything they have, just to play the game they love is what makes the game great. Sadly, we have players who use substances other than blood, sweat, and tears to get to the top, and take away from the natural talent, and heart-warming stories of other players. As Jim Bunning said, “All baseball players past and present have an obligation to protect the integrity of the greatest game ever invented. If there is no integrity, then there is no game.”