Justin Verlander thinks first time PED users should get a lifetime ban

Associated Press

Ken Rosenthal of Fox has a story today in which he talks to multiple players and league and union officials about the state of drug testing and performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

The big takeaway here, I think, is that players openly and sharply talk about their frustration with PED users now in ways they never would’ve years ago. We saw this change begin after the Mitchell Report and as the MLBPA membership began to agree to and then, later, agitate for harsher penalties for drug users. What was once a taboo subject around which players carefully tread is now something against which they actively campaign.

That, more than home run totals and the number of tests and suspensions handed out, tell you about the state of PEDs in the game. They still exist, of course. Players still get suspensions and, as Rosenthal’s report notes, no testing regime will ever be perfect. Partially because cheaters are always ahead of the testers, partially because no testing can be frequent enough to get some drugs due to how short a period the stay in one’s system. So a lot of the talk is about how to live in a world that, while imperfect, is still pointed in the right direction and shows how little tolerated PEDs are by players.

Some, however, still want the system to be tougher. Justin Verlander, for example, tells Rosenthal that a one strike and you’re out approach is the way to go:

“How do you clean it up? Maybe more severe punishments,” Verlander said.

“If there is proven intent to cheat — i.e. you tested positive or it’s found that you were taking an illegal substance, PEDs, and trying to cheat the system, trying to go around it — I think it should be a ban from baseball.

“It’s too easy for guys to serve a suspension and come back and still get paid.”

I doubt that could ever fly, either legally or practically. While guys lie all the time now, a false positive is always possible in a drug testing scenario. And mixups and cross-contamination of supplements, etc., can occur too. Now baseball uses a zero tolerance approach which does not interest itself with the intent or the why of it. Probably for good reason as that would be a very difficult thing to determine and would lead to a lot of litigation. Under Verlander’s proposal, every positive test would lead to a protracted legal battle about intent. It would simply be unworkable.

Still, interesting to see the sea change in player sentiment about all of this in the past several years.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.