Before you call for stiffer drug penalties please think about what just happened

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Within 12 hours of Ryan Braun — described by one national columnist as a “cockroach” — getting unprecedented discipline and going down without even bothering to fight, the calls have already started for baseball to get even tougher. Just this morning I have seen multiple calls for automatic lifetime bans, contract-voiding provisions and all manner of draconian proposals. These calls are couched in the assumption that Ryan Braun somehow got off easy and that, because of that, Major League Baseball is still somehow not doing enough to stop PEDs.

This is nothing short of madness. It’s auto-piloted rage, flown in from 2006, and offered with all spleen and no thought.

Ken Rosenthal lays all of this bare in his excellent column this morning, which I implore you to read.  The short version: Baseball, in the space of a few short months, investigated and suspended a major star with the largest-ever penalty for first-time discipline. It did so without a test. It did so in such a way that union publicly implored the player not to fight and the player, in fact, did not fight.  It did so with the vocal approval of many current players who, just a few short years ago, would have said nothing and probably would have supported their union’s efforts to fight to the death.

We have experienced a complete paradigm shift with respect to performance enhancing drugs in baseball. One in which there is no truly acceptable defense to cheating and which the league is empowered by all stakeholders to root it out.

Yet, in light of that, people think the system is a joke. That the penalties need to be increased. That baseball isn’t doing enough? Jesus, people, do you see what baseball just did?

Indians designate Carlos Gonzalez for assignment

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The Indians have designated outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment. This comes after Gonzalez batted a mere .210/.282/.276 over 117 plate appearances in Cleveland. That came after he had to settle for a minor league contract with the Indians in mid-March.

A few years ago Gonzalez was a superstar, winning three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, making the All-Star team three times and coming in third in the MVP balloting once upon a time. That was then, however. His most recent good season came in 2016, when he hit .298/.350/.505 with 25 homers and drove in 100. In 2017 and 2018 he combined to hit .232/.269/.334. Between his falloff in production and the fact that his big numbers of the past were heavily supported by playing at Coors Field, it should not be shocking that he couldn’t make it work in Cleveland.

If he wants to continue his career, he’ll no doubt have to take a minor league gig someplace. Otherwise, this could be the end of the line.