Presentation on theme: "Baseball Vice: Drugs Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University"— Presentation transcript:
Baseball Vice: Drugs Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University email@example.com
Drugs Players have been using drugs to enhance their performance, deal with mental and physical pain, and speed their recoveries since the game’s inception. Why? In short: drugs helped further careers. And while the reasons for using drugs have remained virtually unchanged, the drugs themselves have changed over time. MLB’s response to drug use has been ad hoc and tardy at best and aiding and abetting at worst. Why? Ultimately, the question is not whether the sport should allow drugs to be used – players will use whether drugs are banned or not – but whether it should be considered cheating.
Morphine Tom Barlow began his career with the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1872, and played 37 games, most of them as catcher He hit well that season, batting.310, and scored 34 runs. In 1873, he caught 53 games, becoming the second player credited with catching all of his team's games, a feat that has been accomplished just seven times, the latest occurring in 1945 when Mike Tresh caught all 150 of the Chicago White Sox's games. It was during the 1874 season while playing for the Hartford Dark Blues that he sustained an injury to his side while catching pitcher Cherokee Fisher. Later, when he was being treated at his hotel room, a physician administered a morphine injection, which began his addiction to the drug, and subsequently, he lost his baseball career to it. Baseball dealt with Barlow’s case individually and did not establish a drug policy: a pattern that would persist until relatively recently. Ken Burns’ Baseball Clip: Drugs – Morphine: 10:00
Alcohol Prior to the 1970s, there were countless individual problems with alcohol abuse, but as alcohol was a legal substance during most of that time (except for the Prohibition era), alcohol was typically seen as a character weakness on the part of individuals. For example, in the early 20 th century, the eccentric left-handed pitcher Rube Waddell, an alcoholic for most of his life, was called the “Sousepaw” by the sporting news after he reportedly spent his entire signing bonus on a drinking binge. Grover Cleveland Alexander, one of the best pitchers of his era, grew up in a family of alcoholics, suffered from epilepsy, and was also an alcoholic. Ken Burns’ Baseball Clips: 2:41 – Grover Cleveland Alexander: Alcoholic 6:48 – Grover Cleveland Alexander: Wins the World Series Hung Over
Alcohol Baseball and other sports figures regularly promoted alcohol consumption through advertising and endorsement contracts. Consider the Lite Beer from Miller commercials from the 1970s and 80s in which many former baseball players appeared. Former catcher and current announcer Bob Uecker became nationally famous based on his appearances in these ads. New York Yankees player and manager Billy Martin, who regularly appeared in Lite Beer commercials was an alcoholic and died when his car crashed on Christmas Day 1989. Though it was never proved whether Martin was the driver or the passenger of the vehicle, he had been drinking all day. In 1998 New York Yankee pitcher David Welles threw a perfect game. He later admitted that he was extremely hung over from drinking the night before. Should baseball be associated with alcohol?
Amphetamines One day early in his career, minor-league pitcher Dock Ellis was lying on the dugout bench, "half-assed asleep and hungover," and found out he was supposed to pitch. An older player leaned over and handed Ellis a plastic cup. "I said, 'What the hell is that?'" Ellis recalls. "He said, 'Juice.' I drank it, and next thing I know, I was out there on the mound like [San Francisco Giants’ ace pitcher Juan] Marichal. And I liked it." Ellis had just had his first experience with amphetamines, known as “greenies”; by the time he arrived in the Major Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ellis was popping green Dexamyl pills before every game. Eventually, he'd need between 70 and 85 milligrams to get up for a start; that would be somewhere between five and 12 pills, depending on what type he took. And over the next 12 years, he wouldn't pitch a single major league game without them. Not one. "Doctors aren't gonna come out and say it, but it enhances your game," Ellis said. "The thing is, you get addicted to it. You take half a pill and do great. Then you take half three weeks later and don't do good, so you say maybe I better take the other half. 'Cause I'm not feeling the same way. It got to the point where I had to take it just to be on the bench, when I'm not pitching. Just to stay awake. "Why? Fear. Fear of success and fear of failure."
Greenies Players pop "greenies" or "beans" before games to increase focus and to shake their bodies from fatigue caused by their grueling schedule. During the Pittsburgh Drug Trials (1985), Pirates player John Milner (who had retired two years earlier), spoke of Willie Mays and Willie Stargell, both iconic figures and Baseball Hall of Famers, giving him "greenies". New York Yankee Pitchers Jim Bouton, who wrote a tell-all book about what really went on in baseball said: “In the 1970s, half of the guys in the big leagues were taking greenies, and if we had steroids, we would have taken those, too. I said in "Ball Four," if there was a pill that could guarantee you would win 20 games but would take five years off of your life, players would take it.” Star hitter, and 1996 MVP, Ken Caminiti told Sports Illustrated in 2002 that only one or two players per team competed without greenies--those exceptions are said to be "playing naked." After a night of drinking (which is often used to come down from the high of the amphetamines), Caminiti said, "You take some pills, go out and run in the outfield, and you get the blood flowing. All of a sudden you feel much better. There were other times when you'd say, 'I feel good enough to play naked today, but you know what? I can feel even better.' So you'd take them then too.“ Caminiti had struggled with substance abuse throughout his career. In 1994 he admitted to having a problem with alcohol. In 2001 he was arrested for cocaine. In 2002, one year after his retirement, he admitted that he had used steroids. He died in 2004 from taking a combination of cocaine and opiates.
LSD: The Doc Ellis No-No (1970) After a night of screwdrivers, marijuana, and amphetamines, Dock Ellis woke up the next morning in his LA home, sometime after noon, and immediately took a dose of Purple Haze acid. Ellis would frequently drop acid on off days and weekends; he had a room in his basement christened "The Dungeon," in which he'd lock himself and listen to Jimi Hendrix or Iron Butterfly "for days.“ But not when he had to pitch. But he had accidently slept through an entire day and did in fact have to pitch that evening—in San Diego. He boarded a plane. The first thing he recalls is sitting in a taxi, telling the driver to "get to the fucking stadium. I got to play." Next thing, he's sitting in the locker room. 5 p.m. By that point, Ellis had enough experience with LSD to know that it wouldn't be wearing off anytime soon; as a, uh, "precautionary measure," he took somewhere between four and eight amphetamines and drank some water. He walked to the railing at Jack Murphy Stadium where, each time he played in San Diego, a female acquaintance would bring him a handful of Benzedrine. White Crosses. He took a handful of those and went to the bullpen to warm up. During the game, sometimes the ball felt like a balloon. Sometimes it felt like a golf ball. But he could always get it to the plate. Getting it over the plate was another matter entirely. Sometimes he couldn't see the hitter. Sometimes he couldn't see the catcher. But if he could see the hitter, he'd guess where the catcher was. He finished with eight walks, one hit batsman and loaded the bases at least twice. But the Padres never got a hit off of him. Dock Ellis had thrown a no-hitter while tripping on LSD. "I remember getting that last out," Ellis said. "And turning around and saying, 'A fucking no-hitter!' Texas Rangers owner Brad Corbett later traded for Ellis and commented, “Stuff like that was happening all the time. Everybody was doing something. One relief pitcher we traded for, I went to meet him in New York at Studio 54. And I walk in and look over and say to myself, 'Hmm. Is that sugar?' “No Mas Presents: Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No by James Blagden” feathuring Ellis’ real voice from a 2008 interview. YouTube clip – 4:32.
Fergie Jenkins Banned (1980) Former starting pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was without question one of the great pitchers in Chicago Cubs history, winning 20 games a season for six consecutive seasons from 1967 to 1972. However, Jenkins was involved in an incident in 1980 that put him in the record books for an entirely different reason. While going through a routine customs check in Toronto in late August, Jenkins was arrested after customs enforcement officials found cocaine, marijuana and hashish in Jenkins’ possession. Two weeks later, MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned Jenkins from baseball until he either admitted or denied his guilt. Two weeks after Kuhn banned Jenkins, an independent arbiter ruled that that the ban be immediately rescinded, and Jenkins was reinstated, finishing his career in 1983 with the Cubs. The arbitrator ruled that a suspension based only on Jenkins’ arrest violated the essential American notion that he was innocent until proved guilty. Moreover, he found that forcing Jenkins to admit or deny the charges before trial violated his constitutional right against self- incrimination. Kuhn’s demand would “as a practical matter…jeopardize his [Jenkins’] defense in court.” Jenkins was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, and continues to be a regular presence at Wrigley Field.
Rich Players and Designer Drugs One unintended consequence of the end of the reserve clause, free agency, and escalating player salaries was that players could now afford drugs that were far more expensive than the relatively cheap alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, and LSD that they had been taking. Rich young men could afford expensive designer drugs such as cocaine and steroids in order to further their careers.
Kansas City Royals (1983) In August 1983, four players on the Kansas City Royals—Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens, Jerry Martin, and Vida Blue pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of “attempting to possess cocaine.” Much to the surprise of the players, the U.S. magistrate judge did not place them on probation but instead sentenced them to three months in federal prison. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended them from baseball for the entire 1984 season. However, the four appealed and were permitted to return on May 15, after having served three months in prison. In response to the scandal, Kansas City owner Ewing Kauffman founded the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation to give back to the community. Blue was released, Martin became a free agency, and Aikens was traded to Toronto. Only Wilson remained with the team. Kuhn prohibited the San Francisco Giants from signing Blue after his release from prison and suspended him for the rest of the 1984 season. In 1993 and 1994, Aikens was under surveillance by the FBI after they had received information that Aikens was selling drugs in his home. After a lengthy investigation, Aikens was convicted in August 1994 on four counts of crack cocaine distribution and one count of use of a firearm during drug trafficking, and in December that same year, Aikens was sentenced to 20 years. Aikens was released in June 2008, and now serves as a minor league coach for the Royals.
Pascual Perez (1983) Pascual Perez was a star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. During the winter break before the 1984 season, authorities arrested Perez in his native Dominican Republic for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Although convicted of the lesser charge of possession, he was imprisoned for 3 months by Dominican authorities. In response, Commissioner Kuhn suspended him for 1 month but the arbitrator overturned the penalty ruling there was “substantial question” of Perez’s guilt and that Kuhn should not have relied exclusively on the Dominican justice system’s finding of guilt. Perez rejoined the Braves in May 1984.
Joint Drug Agreement (1983) Baseball ad-hoc drug policy was hurting its image with the public, many of whom felt that drugs had infested the game. Drug cases were being decided by the commissioner one at a time, widely reported by the media, and then followed by a review by the arbitrator. Each lengthy case was covered in detail by the press. In the 1983 experimental Joint Drug Agreement, a pact that was far ahead of its time, the parties converted drug use from a disciplinary issue into a medical question. 3 doctors—1 selected by the union, 1 by the owners, and 1 by the other two doctors—determined the facts of any particular case and applied pre-established treatment options.
Pittsburgh Drug Trials (1985) In the early 1980s, the Pittsburgh Pirates were a gritty bunch of ballplayers who supplied a fair amount of entertainment for their fans. However, much more was going on behind the scenes than anyone had ever suspected. In 1985, a shocking cocaine scandal was revealed, involving several current Pirates—Dale Berra, Lee Lacy, Lee Mazzilli, John Milner, Dave Parker, and Rod Scurry. All of the players were granted immunity in exchange for testimony given to a grand jury which led to the Pittsburgh drug trials in September 1985. Other non-Pirates were also implicated, and provided testimony. Willie Mays Aikens, Vida Blue, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Tim Raines, and Lonnie Smith were all called to give testimony in front of the grand jury as well.
Testimony revealed that drug dealers frequented the Pirates' clubhouse. Stories such as Rod Scurry leaving a game in the late innings to look for cocaine and John Milner buying two grams of cocaine for $200 in the bathroom stalls at Three Rivers Stadium during a 1980 game against the Houston Astros shocked the grand jurors. Even Kevin Koch, who played the Pirates' mascot, was implicated for buying cocaine and introducing players to a drug dealer. Scurry admitted purchasing cocaine 19 times between 1982 and 1983, and was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony in the drug trial that commenced in September 1985. Ultimately, seven drug dealers pleaded guilty on various charges and the players—because they testified in exchange for immunity—went free. In 1992 Rod Scurry died of a heart attack at age 36 after a cocaine-fueled incident with police officers led to his hospitalization. Drug abuse also ruined the promising career of Dale Berra, the son of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. Ken Burns’ Baseball Clip: Players Banned for Cocaine - 1:30
A Missed Opportunity On the heels of the Joint Drug Agreement (1983) and the Pittsburgh Drug Trials (1985) MLB had a golden opportunity to solve the drug problem. On February 28, 1986, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth suspended a number of players for varying lengths of time. A primary condition of reinstatement was public service. Ueberroth also wanted the players to agree to urine tests. He saw the drug issue as a matter of public relations for the industry rather than as a human relations issue with baseball’s employees—the players. He publicly tried to embarrass the union into agreeing to random drug testing, something that had never been included in the Joint Drug Agreement. Ueberroth announced a comprehensive drug-testing program that covered not only major league players but also the umpires, personnel of his office and all the clubs, and minor-league ballplayers. The union rejected the proposal for players at the major league level insisting that any testing scheme that could lead to discipline had to be negotiated with the union, rather than imposed unilaterally by the commissioner.
Baseball’s Drug Policy and Prevention Program Ueberroth ordered that individual player contracts contain a random testing requirement. The union filed a grievance claiming this was a matter for collective bargaining and the arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor. Ueberroth then issued a revised “Baseball’s Drug Policy and Prevention Program,” abandoning random drug testing. This time the union allowed the program to proceed without challenge. Commissioner Fay Vincent elaborated on the policy in 1991: “Players are not subject to unannounced testing for illegal drugs. However, players who have admitted to illegal drug use, or who have been detected using illegal drugs, are subject to mandatory testing…for the balance of [their] professional career.
The Rise and Fall of Steve Howe When pitcher Steve Howe debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980, he was an instant success, saving 17 games that year and was selected as the National League Rookie of the Year. However, Howe had a serious addiction to drugs, most notably cocaine, and was first admitted into treatment in 1983. Howe was suspended for the entire season in 1984 after a relapse, and would eventually be suspended seven times overall. In June 1992, MLB commissioner Fay Vincent suspended Howe for life based on the repeated suspension for drugs. However, Howe successfully appealed the suspension. The arbitrator found a lifetime ban too harsh because the commissioner’s office had failed to give Howe the aftercare and drug-testing support it had promised. Howe pitched for the New York Yankees until the released him in 1996. On April 28, 2006, Howe's pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, California, and he was killed. The toxicology reports following his autopsy indicated he had methamphetamine in his system.
Acting Commissioner Bud Selig Weighs In In June 1994, star players Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry had tested positive and been suspended for drugs. Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said he didn't think baseball was anywhere close to being drug-infested, but said, "that's no less reason for us to pursue a thoughtful policy." Said Selig: "We may debate how widespread this problem is throughout baseball. We cannot debate that there are tragedies out there.“ "It's obviously something we need to do, to declare a partnership not only for economic reasons but sociological reasons as well," said Selig. "And this would have to be a thoughtful program with emphasis on education and aftercare. This can't be a happy day for anyone in baseball.“ But the strike thwarted any chance to put in place a comprehensive drug policy that both the players and the owners could agree to. When the players returned to the field and records started to fall there was little, if any, talk of drugs in baseball. It seemed as if the issue had vanished.
Steroids Synthetic testosterone—also known as steroids—was created in the 1930s, used by German soldiers during WWII, Soviet athletes during the Cold War, NFL players in the 1960s, and Olympic athletes. Major League baseball players—who in the 1980s and 1990s had been punished for cocaine—turned to steroids (and related drugs such as prohormones) as a new way to enhance performance. Yet studies have shown that the side effects from steroids can include heart and liver damage, persistent endocrine-system imbalance, elevated cholesterol levels, strokes, aggressive behavior and the dysfunction of genitalia. In 1988 congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which made steroid possession and/or distribution a felony. Next, the United States Congress added steroids to the Controlled Substances Act as an amendment known as the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990. Steroids were now placed in "Schedule III" classification, along with amphetamines, methamphetamines, opium, and morphine, and carrying the same penalties for buying or selling them. But ballplayers only increased their use, gaining muscle mass and rapidly recovering from injury. In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire enthralled the public with their chase of Roger Maris’ single-season HR record of 61. Pitchers such as Roger Clemens got better as they aged. Ken Burns’ Baseball Clips: 10:10 – Cheating: Steroids 27:07 – Steroid Era: Sosa & McGwire 6:09 – Steroid Era Pitchers
The Story Breaks (2002) While there had been rumors and some reports of steroid use in baseball, the issue did not begin to gain traction until 2002 when former slugger Jose Canseco, who had hit 462 home runs during his major league career, retired and claimed that as much as 85% of players were using steroids. A few weeks later Sports Illustrated ran a cover story by Tom Verducci titled “Totally Juiced” detailing steroid use in baseball. Former MVP Ken Caminiti said: "It's no secret what's going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using steroids. They talk about it. They joke about it with each other.” All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling said: "You sit there and look at some of these players and you know what's going on. Guys out there look like Mr. Potato Head, with a head and arms and six or seven body parts that just don't look right. They don't fit. I'm not sure how [steroid use] snuck in so quickly, but it's become a prominent thing very quietly. It's widely known in the game.” Former Yankee outfielder Chad Curtis said, "When I was in New York, a player there told me that HGH was the next big thing, that that's the road the game's heading down next. Now you see guys whose facial features, jawbones and cheekbones change after they're 30. Do they think that happens naturally? You go, 'What happened to that guy?' Then you'll hear him say he worked out over the winter and put on 15 pounds of muscle. I'm sorry, working out is not going to change your facial features."
Baseball Responds 3 months after the story broke, MLB announced a new program of limited drug testing. Players were tested anonymously, only once or twice, and not at all during the offseason. If more than 5% tested positive, a punitive plan would go into effect. In the first year, more than 5% did test positive. From then on, those who failed once were given treatment and remained anonymous. Those who failed more than once faced suspensions of more than 15 games. After 5 positive results they would be suspended for the season. It was the weakest drug testing program in sports. In 2004 no players were suspended. Ken Burns’ Baseball Clips: 9:11 – Steroids Made Public
Jose Canseco’s Steroid Allegations (2005) In 2005, Canseco released the book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. In the book, Canseco claimed that former teammates Mark McGwire, Juan González, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi all used steroids during their careers, up to 85% of all players used them, and that he was the one primarily responsible for introducing steroids to baseball when he began his career with the Oakland A’s in 1985. Congress held hearings on the issue in 2005. Canseco testified as did Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire who famously said: “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
BALCO and Baseball’s Response In 2002 the federal government began investigating BALCO, a California nutritional supplement company that provided steroids to athletes between 1988-2002 including San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds. In 2003 Bonds testified before the grand jury that he had used BALCO’s “The Clear” and “The Cream” but did not think they were steroids. After the BALCO scandal, Major League Baseball finally decided to buckle down and issue harsher penalties for steroid users. The new policy, which was accepted by Major League Baseball players and owners, was issued at the start of the 2005 season: The first positive test will result in a suspension of up to ten days. The second positive test will result in a suspension of thirty days. The third positive test will result in a suspension of sixty days. The fourth positive test will result in a suspension of one full year. Finally, the fifth positive test will result in a penalty at the discretion of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Players will be tested at least once per year, with a chance that several players can be tested numerous times per year. In 2005 the first results came in: 12 players were suspended for 10 days including slugger Rafael Palmeiro who was told before his congressional testimony that he tested positive. Still, he denied ever taking steroids.
The Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (2006) Baseball issued a new, tougher drug program for the start of the 2006 season. Players who failed once would be suspended 50 games, twice – 100 games, a third time – for life. In 2006, 3 players were suspended for 50 games. In 2007, there were 8 suspensions. In 2008, one player was suspended. Had the new, harsher policy worked? Was steroids eradicated from baseball?
The Mitchell Report (2007) On March 30, 2006, MLB commissioner Bud Selig appointed former Senator George Mitchell to lead an investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. The investigation was spurred by several incidents—the release of the book Game of Shadows by San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, and negative remarks by members of Congress regarding the ineffectiveness of MLB drug policies. Mitchell issued a 409-page report, released on December 13, 2007. It covered the history of the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by players and the effectiveness of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In addition, the report named 89 MLB players who were alleged to have used steroids or drugs. The report also gave recommendations as to setting strict enforcement policies and guidelines for MLB going forward, many of which were agreed upon and implemented.
Barry Bonds Ken Burns’ Baseball Clips: 10:38 – Bonds Begins Career 4:50 – Bonds Plays for San Francisco 4:22 – Bonds Hits HRs 3:06 – Bonds Breaks Record
Barry Bonds Perjury Trial (2011) When accused slugger Barry Bonds was finally brought to trial in early 2011 on several counts of lying to a grand jury regarding his testimony about performance enhancing drugs, the world was subjected to a trial that was bizarre to say the least. During testimony given by Bonds’ former mistress, the world learned more about Bonds’ testicles than they ever really wanted to know. Ultimately, Bonds was convicted on obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, two years of probation and 250 hours of community service.
Greenies Banned (2005) In 2005, MLB started testing for amphetamines. Greenies have been such a part of the game that without them, one veteran manager said: "they should increase the rosters by five and make it mandatory that all getaway games be day games." Another manager believes the ban could lead to a dip in the quality of play: "Everybody in baseball has to be concerned about how this is going to play out. They're going to have to shorten the season. It used to be just the 35-and-older guys needed them, but young guys rely on them now too. The level of play could be affected. You'll have to check on your players more as far as giving them off days." So, theoretically, a deep bench and young players (those who get their rest, anyway) are now at a premium in this new era: baseball without beans. But maybe there is something else that players will take instead of greenies?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Following the 2005 ban on greenies, players sought doctors' prescriptions for ADHD medications, usually Ritalin and Adderall, to replace the newly illegal energy boosting amphetamines. In 2010, MLB granted 105 exemptions for otherwise-banned stimulants because of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, virtually unchanged from the previous four years. "My reaction is the same as last year and the year before that," said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. "It seems to me almost incomprehensible that ADHD is so pervasive in baseball to a degree that it requires medicine." Among 3,747 tests for major leaguers in 2011, up slightly from the prior year's 3,722, there were 15 positives for stimulants, including 13 for Adderall and one each for Clobenzorex and Phentermine. They were presumably initial positive tests, which don't result in discipline. ADHD dominated the therapeutic use exemptions that were granted, with only five others approved. Of those, two were for hypertension and one each for hypogonadism, narcolepsy and post-concussion syndrome.
Is Baseball Steroid Free? There were just two positive tests for steroids in 2010: Cincinnati pitcher Edinson Volquez and Florida catcher Ronny Paulino were suspended for 50 games each. Without saying who tested positive for what, the substances were revealed to be Clomiphene and Oxandrolone. In 2011, two different players tested positive, including....
Manny Ramirez Retires? (2011) When all-star Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, the Red Sox had clearly finally had enough of the “Manny being Manny” act. So, Ramirez took his act to Hollywood. At first, the Manny act played well in Los Angeles, as Ramirez provided instant offense and helped propel the Dodgers into the playoffs with 17 homers and a.396 average in 53 games. However in May 2009, Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in violation of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Ramirez claimed that he was taking medication prescribed by a doctor that had a banned supplement. In April 2011, after signing a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, Ramirez, after just six games, suddenly announced he was retiring from baseball. The retirement coincided with a report from MLB that Manny had once again tested positive for a banned substance in a spring training drug test. Rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second offense, Manny opted to walk away from the game. Yet Manny returned in 2012 for the Oakland A’s after the union and MLB worked out a compromise where Manny would only have to serve a 50-game suspension before he would be eligible to play for the A’s.
The Ryan Braun Affair (2012) Former teacher and athletic trainer and, currently, the director of rehabilitation services at a health care facility, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. was also involved in MLB’s drug-testing program. He said he took samples from three players late on a Saturday afternoon at Miller Park after Milwaukee opened the 2011 playoffs with a 4-1 win over Arizona, and took them home to his basement rather than leave them unattended at a FedEx drop off location until the following Monday. The samples arrived at a Montreal lab with all the seals intact, and no evidence that anything was amiss. There was something amiss with Milwaukee star Ryan Braun’s sample, though — it reportedly showed a ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in excess of 20-1, when a ratio in excess of 4-1 triggers a positive test. But after MLB announced that Braun had tested positive and would be suspended for 50 games, he appealed, and the arbitrator—Shyam Das—overturned his test result because Laurenzi did not follow the proper procedure when he failed to send in the samples immediately after collecting them.
The Ryan Braun Affair (2012) For his part, Braun reminded everyone that he was the National League MVP and the guy with the new $105 million contract, and to question what he had to say about anything would be foolish. He declared himself innocent, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. He said the truth was on his side, when there was no evidence of that at all. Then he threw a poor urine collector under the bus because, well, he was just a poor urine collector and he was the National League MVP and the guy with the megamillion contract. He even suggested that the urine collector was involved in a conspiracy: "There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened," Braun said. "We spoke to biochemists and scientists and we asked them how difficult would it be to tamper with somebody's sample. And their response was that if they were motivated, it would be extremely easy." The Brewers fans continued to cheer Braun while opposing fans never relented in their taunts of Braun as a cheater.
Conclusion Players have used drugs since the beginning of the game. The response by baseball authorities was initially one of indifference followed by an ad-hoc punitive approach, and finally a comprehensive testing regimen with harsh penalties. Given that players have sought to enhance their performance from baseball’s earliest days, should star players from the so-called “steroid era” be considered cheaters and barred from admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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