I often defend baseball’s PED testing regime. I think its official punishments are good. Fifty games is a lot for a first offense, as are the financial penalties that go along with the suspensions. But it really has no clue what it’s doing when it comes to secondary sanctions like the one we saw imposed today on Melky Cabrera.
Was it not foreseeable that a person who tests positive for PEDs might one day win a batting title or an ERA crown? Apparently not, because it wasn’t an issue until Melky tested positive and Andrew McCutchen’s hitting fell off a bit. Now there’s all this unsatisfying scrambling.
Thing about is, just this year Major League Baseball was thinking about things like this. It passed a rule making PED-positive players ineligible for the All-Star Game. Why didn’t it think about statistical or postseason awards then? Where was the imagination? Why was what seems so dreadful now — a PED cheat winning the batting title — not a looming menace then? And what about other problems? Just this week 30 players were nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. What if one of them tests positive after they win? Do we retroactively take it away? Or do we realize that, heck, David Ortiz won it last year, so why should we even care about such things now?
I think no one thought too hard about it because, in reality, baseball think about it like I do, and no one at Major League Baseball truly cares about such things. It only becomes an issue when people in the press start grumbling about it or asking Bud Selig about it at press conferences. Then some negative public relations-adverse reaction occurs, leading to ad hoc rules like the Melky Cabrera Rule.
Major League Baseball will get a lot of pats on the back and atta-boys as a result of this. But let’s not pretend that this is some sort of well-though-out thing as opposed to a way to get out of some bad P.R.