Skip to main content

Baseball, this time throw the book at users of performance-enhancing drugs

By MIke Downey, Special to CNN
June 6, 2013 -- Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)
Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 regular and postseason over accusations of taking performance-enhancing drugs and having ties to the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic in South Florida. Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 regular and postseason over accusations of taking performance-enhancing drugs and having ties to the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic in South Florida.
HIDE CAPTION
Alex Rodriguez: Performance-enhancing drugs
Barry Bonds: Perjury indictment
Roger Clemens: Steroid allegations
Rafael Palmeiro: Steroid suspension
Mark McGwire: Steroids admission
John Rocker: Outrageous comments
Marge Schott: Hitler observation
George Steinbrenner: Dirty dealings
Pete Rose: Gambling on baseball
Darryl Strawberry: Cocaine, prostitutes
Ferguson Jenkins: First drug suspension
Chicago White Sox: The big fix
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mike Downey: ESPN reports as many as 20 baseball players could get suspended for PED use
  • He says this time, MLB should throw book at offenders, not slap wrist. Fans tired of this
  • He says years of steroid-use cases have ruined careers, stained the game.
  • Downey: Guilty parties, you know who you are; MLB, if you find dirt, clean it up

Editor's note: Mike Downey is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

(CNN) -- Baseball is a dirty game, we know that. Grass stains. Rosin bags. Pine tar. Dust. Sweat. Spit. Tobacco drool.

But just how filthy IS it?

Exactly how many cheaters do we have out there, anyhow? Are there no angels in our outfields?

The hot rumor is Major League Baseball is about to throw the book -- harder, this time -- at players who allegedly got a boost from performance-enhancing drugs. As many as 20 players might be suspended, according to a report on ESPN.com. Some of the bans might be for as long as 100 games.

A feel-good Florida fellow named Tony Bosch ran Biogenesis, a Miami wellness clinic that is now closed. ESPN says sources indicated Bosch will be cooperating with MLB's top brass in identifying which pro athletes, among his clientele, were being supplied with PEDs.

Mike Downey
Mike Downey

Names being bandied about: Alex Rodriguez, three-time American League MVP; Ryan Braun, 2011 National League MVP; Melky Cabrera, 2012 All-star Game MVP; and, well, the rest of the lineup will be asked to line up.

Throw the bums out, some will scream. I am totally OK with this.

Who's legitimate and who ain't? That's all we want to know anymore.

We have spent much of this century wondering which individuals in the national pastime are squeaky clean and which are as stained as a dugout floor.

What about Barry Bonds, No. 1 on hitting's all-time home run list -- and who was convicted in 2011 of obstruction of justice for impeding a grand jury investigating the use of PEDs? What about A-Rod (No. 5 on the list), who in 2009 publicly confessed to steroid use between 2001-03?

What about Sammy Sosa (No. 8), who the New York Times reported was among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003? Mark McGwire (10), who in 2010 admitted to steroid use during the 1990s? Rafael Palmeiro (12), suspended in 2005 for a positive drug test? Manny Ramirez (14), suspended in 2009 for the same thing?

Did any or all bring a little "extra" to the plate when they stepped up to bat?

I don't know.

All I do know is, we're sick of it, man.

Baseball drug scandal brewing
Report: MLB drug suspensions loom
Report: A-Rod, others linked to PED list

Baseball's zero-tolerance policy is an absolute must. Oh, the players' union reps will surely react and be appalled and appeal. But if swingers and throwers are found to be dirty, they've gotta go. No slaps on the wrist. It's gotta hurt.

Back when he got booted for 50 games in 2009, Manny Ramirez was a big star. He has barely been heard from since. Manny and his 555 home runs (more than Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams or Lou Gehrig) have pretty much taken a powder since MLB suspended him that season for PEDs. When they pointed a finger his way for another possible violation in 2011, he chose instant retirement instead.

A couple of strikes and you're out.

A-Rod's in a jam. His reputation is already in disrepute from his 2009 mea culpa. He is 37 and his future is in doubt. He is injured and hasn't played a single inning for the Yankees so far in 2013. Now the 14-time All-Star with 647 lifetime home runs finds his name has come up again in this Biogenesis business in Miami, the town where he went to high school.

Braun is a puzzler. A 29-year-old outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, he was NL Rookie of the Year in 2007, MVP in '11. Then he got suspended for PEDs. Then he got un-suspended, successfully challenging the decision.

Now he's on the hot seat again, although he seems adamant that the truth will set him free. We will see.

Then there is Cabrera, 28, the man named Melky, whose pals call him "Leche," whose fans in San Francisco came to games dressed like milkmen.

In 2012, the Melk Man was hitting a healthy .346 and had just been voted the star of stars in the All-Star Game when he got banned 50 games for the detection in his bloodstream of "synthetic testosterone." He missed the rest of the season. He was eligible for the World Series, but the Giants didn't reinstate him. A day after they won it, they released Cabrera from the team.

Today he is a Toronto Blue Jay, persona non grata in the Bay Area where he was once so wildly popular. A second suspension could be in store for Cabrera if reports are correct that he could be snagged in the Miami net.

ESPN ran a long list of players besides Rodriguez, Braun and Cabrera "who might ultimately face discipline." A couple of these guys are among MLB's fastest-rising young stars.

Guilty parties, you know who you are.

Major League Baseball, you are slowly but surely figuring out who they are.

Get out your pail and mop. If you have found more dirt by your plate, do this game a big favor. Clean it up.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mike Downey.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2108 GMT (0508 HKT)
The NFL's new Player Conduct Policy was a missed chance to get serious about domestic violence, says Mel Robbins.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2233 GMT (0633 HKT)
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the CBO didn't provide an accurate picture of Obamacare's impact, so why rehire its boss?
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
Russian aggression has made it clear Ukraine must rethink its security plans, says Olexander Motsyk, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
The Senate committee report on torture has highlighted partisan divisions on CIA methods, says Will Marshall. Republicans and Democrats are to blame.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1833 GMT (0233 HKT)
It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. But that hasn't stopped some standing out, says Frida Ghitis.
ADVERTISEMENT