Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Major League Baseball must ask why players still think steroids are worth the risk

Somewhere, Manny Ramirez's cousin is having champagne.

Which is appropriate, considering it could have been him tossed under a Dodgers bus on Thursday. It could have been him with the TV cameras camped out on his lawn. It could have been him playing the role of Manny's designated patsy.

Alas, when it came time for Ramirez to shift blame for a 50-game drug suspension Thursday, the Mystery-Cousin-From-Somewhere-Else excuse had already been taken by Alex Rodriguez. Yeah, some drug cheats have all the luck.

Which left poor Manny grasping for something original. Something plausible. Something between the sixth floor and the grassy knoll. Unfortunately for him, there has been a rush on entertaining steroid defenses.

Roger Clemens had used the Doesn't-Everyone-Get-Vitamin-Shots-In-The-Butt ploy a few months back. Andy Pettitte had gone all victim on us with It-Was-Only-Because-I-Was-Hurt act. And Gary Sheffield and Rafael Palmeiro both tried the Blame-It-On-Another-Player routine.

And so Ramirez was left scraping the bottom of the alibi box.

So, tell me, do you buy his My-Doctor-Did-It excuse?

Because, I have to admit, sometime between Palmeiro pointing a finger at congressional committee members and A-Rod telling fibs to Katie Couric on national television, I've lost my trust on this issue. Call me cynical, but I always think the dreck is in the male.

At this point, I would prefer silence. I would feel a lot more sympathy if a player just said, "Hey, I was stupid." Actually, coming from Manny, that's a defense I would buy.

Because these days, anything else sounds like an agent's spin. (And by the way, few agents have had as much practice as Scott Boras, who seems to have a disproportionate number of these type of issues.)

But here's what's amusing about all these excuses:

We really don't need to know why a player might have taken performance enhancing drugs.

Heck, just look at MVP winners from the past 15 years. Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Juan Gonzalez, Sammy Sosa, Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi, Mo Vaughn and Ivan Rodriguez have been linked to steroids one way or another. Look at the recent additions to the 500-homer club who have been linked (Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro, Sheffield, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Mark McGwire).

We don't need to ask why someone took steroids because the answer seems fairly obvious.

The real question for the folks who run Major League Baseball is why players think it is still worth the risk.

A-Rod was the best player in the game in 2003. And yet he acknowledged taking steroids. Palmeiro had already reached 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in 2005. And yet he was suspended for testing positive. And now comes Ramirez. Just a few days ago, you would have called him a certain Hall of Famer. And yet today he is in a steroid scandal.

The inference is these players believe performance enhancing drugs are so beneficial, it is worth the risk of a suspension. The risk of scandal. The risk of staining a Hall of Fame candidacy.

And based on the way owners reward contracts, I'm not sure I disagree.

Ramirez is nearly 37 years old, a terrible defensive player and a bit of a malingerer. Yet the Dodgers gave him a two-year contract for $45 million this year. Why? Because he remains one of the game's best hitters. And now we have to wonder if steroids played a role in Ramirez putting up MVP-like numbers at age 36 last season.

Think about it. If you're a young Triple-A player and you see the Yankees rewriting A-Rod's contract to the tune of 10 years and $275 million, wouldn't you at least consider whether steroids might not help you cash in, too?

And if you're an older player hanging on and you see Clemens making $18 million as a part-time player at age 43, wouldn't it be tempting to see if a summer of HGH could get you one last paycheck?

Major League Baseball has come a long way when it comes to drug testing. And you have to be impressed that players such as Palmeiro, Ramirez and Tejada have been popped in recent seasons.

But instead of listening to laughable excuses from players when their use is discovered, MLB officials might want to figure out why so many high-profile players are willing to take the risk.

Either they're not that worried about being caught, or the penalties are not scary enough to be a deterrent. And that's what MLB should be concerned about today.

John Romano can be reached at romano@sptimes.com

Major League Baseball must ask why players still think steroids are worth the risk 05/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 8, 2009 8:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs

    Bucs

    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  3. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.