To underscore the earlier post about where we are now with PEDs in baseball, check out what Skip Schumaker had to say after the Dodgers game last night:
“I can’t stand it. It (PED use) needs to be eliminated from the game. I have an autographed Ryan Braun jersey hanging in my baseball room at home that I’ll be taking down now because I don’t want my son connecting this with what I had to do to get to to where I am and to have what I have. In my opinion, it should be an automatic lifetime ban. One strike — you’re out. … It’s ridiculous. They’re still doing it?
“He lied. He lied to a lot of people. I was actually convinced after that MVP year that he didn’t do anything. I think he should give that MVP trophy to Matt Kemp (runner-up in 2011). Suspend them all. It needs to get out of baseball. Watching him talk now — it makes me sick.”
We’d never hear anything like this just a couple of years ago. We’re in a totally different world now. People (including Schumaker himself) are saying that tougher penalties are needed. Well, tougher penalties are being assessed, both in hard and soft ways. This kind of public criticism from players’ peers matters. One need only look at the overall culture of baseball and how conformity — for both good and bad reasons — is so, so powerful in the game. It’s a society in which shunning matters.
It won’t work magic. There will always be some cheaters. But don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a powerful development in baseball’s policing of its sport.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?