My Thoughts On MLB Banned Substance Punishment

It was announced on Tuesday that Philadelphia Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz had been suspended 25 games for using an amphetamine. This coming after a career best year for Ruiz, who batted .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 68 RBIs, and a .394 on-base percentage in 2012. Ruiz becomes the 7th player to be suspended for use of a banned substance during the 2012 MLB season; joining Guillermo Mota, Feddy Galvis, Marlon Byrd, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.

Since the current MLB drug policy was put into place in 2008, a grand total of five players had been found guilty of using banned substances up through the end of the 2011 season. As stated earlier, a total of seven players were suspended this past season alone for use of an illegal substance.

While I don’t think it’s a sign of the start of another steroid era–like the one that took place throughout the 1990’s–I do feel it’s a sign that certain players still don’t seem to care about being suspended. As long as they can put up some great stats for awhile, they don’t seem to mind missing out on a couple months worth of games.

It got me thinking: Is the suspension of a player for use of an illegal substance–be it for however many games–really the correct thing to do when it comes to trying to stop the use of drugs in Major League Baseball?

I’m not so sure.

Perhaps, instead of a suspension, a player testing positive for a banned substance should have their stats taken out of the record books for their past X number of games. It’s just a thought.

Players might be less inclined to take the substance in the first place if the results they get from the use of them won’t do the player any good after they get caught. Those impressive stats they’re able to post with the help of an illegal substance would be all for naught, instead of the current set up, where they get to hang onto that season’s stats; which are career best, most of the time.

The way I see it, in certain other sports, athletes who are found to have been using banned substances can be stripped of all awards they’ve ever received throughout their entire career. I’m not even going that far. I’m just stating that instead of a 50 game suspension, give a 50 game deduction of their stats. That seems both “fair” and realistic, in my opinion.

There are a couple of reasons I feel this would be a more effective way to punish those who choose to use illegal substances:

First of all, when a player is suspended a given amount of games, it hurts their team; especially if they’re suspended during the later months of the regular season, when their team could be pushing for a playoff spot. I don’t feel that just because a player chooses to break the rules, that it should impact their entire team. Sometimes, just one player can make or break a team, and I don’t find a suspension as an effective way of punishing the PLAYER.

In addition, taking away the stats that the player was able to post during the timeframe in which they were using the banned substance could possibly help out that particular player when it comes to Hall of Fame voting; if in fact they are HOF worthy. (I’m not saying that Carlos Ruiz is a Hall of Famer; I’m speaking in a general sense.)

When voters look at a player that was found guilty of using illegal substances, a lot of voters don’t even consider them for The Hall; and rightfully so. However, if the players’ “illegal” stats were to be removed from their career numbers, it might give them a shot.

Let’s say, for example, a player ends his career with a .310 batting average, with 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. If that player was found to have used drugs during one of their best statistical seasons, they don’t stand a chance at making it into Cooperstown. But, if the season in question was to be cleared from the books, it could level the playing field, and give an otherwise worthy player a shot.

Take away a career best 200 hit season, in which said player hit 25 home runs, and they would still have Hall of Fame stats (2,800 hits with 375 home runs). A lot of times players only make the mistake once, and I don’t think that should be enough to keep them out altogether.

In conclusion, while I’m all for a player being punished for use of an illegal substance, I’m not sure the current policy is the right one. And while I’m not saying mine is flawless, I feel it’s at the very least enough to make you think. My “policy” would punish the player without impacting their teams chances of a playoff run, as well as still allowing the player a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Maybe I’m onto something, or maybe, it’s all just wishful thinking.

3 Comments

I totally agree but they should also ban the player for about 15 games because that wouldn’t really effect the team.

I don’t necessarily disagree with a 15 game suspension, but I don’t really see the point if you’re already taking away half of their season stats.

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