Quite often, I reference the Steroid Era in baseball on here, and you know what I’m talking about.
It was an era, a chapter in baseball’s history, in which players were juiced out of their minds, breaking every offensive record imaginable with the help of these performance-enhancing drugs. Baseballs were leaving ballparks at unprecedented rates, and traveling unimaginable distances. That was the Steroid Era, because it was the time period in which the use of these performance-enhancing drugs were just about an epidemic within the sport. Jose Canseco, the man who blew the doors off of baseball’s steroid problem with his 2005 book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, once claimed that about 80% of major league players were using steroids during the Steroid Era.
That number has dramatically decreased with the implementation of steroid testing in 2005. But make no mistake about it — this might not be the Steroid Era anymore, but it’s an era in which baseball players are still using steroids. We’ve already seen two players of note receive 80-game suspensions in 2016 for testing positive for steroids, one of which was last year’s National League batting champion. According to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, there are more PED suspensions coming.
Major League Baseball is expected to announce in the next few days that another player has tested positive for the steroid Turinabol, a drug that was commonly used by East German athletes in the 1970s. The positive test is one of a handful being processed, two sources familiar with the cases told Outside the Lines, meaning it’s all but certain that more announcements will follow.
I’ve been pretty clear about my stance on the players who get popped for performance-enhancing drugs in today’s game. Just be honest about it. Say you did it, and move on. Stop feeding the fans the “I unknowingly used performance-enhancing drugs” excuse. It wasn’t an accident. And I’ve seen people fire back and say that not all performance-enhancing drugs are steroids. Yeah, no shit. But guess what? Chris Colabello and Dee Gordon both were suspended for steroid use specifically. That stuff doesn’t just end up in your system accidentally. Own it, and get on with your life.
If baseball is going to attack the performance-enhancing drug issue that still exists in baseball, you don’t do it with harsher penalties for positive tests. You attack the way that baseball’s contracts are structured. If I’m a player like Colabello, who was in the independent leagues and in the minor leagues, what’s stopping me from taking steroids to try to get to the big leagues? I have nothing to lose. I’m not good enough to make it on my own talent and ability, so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity I have in front of me. Right now, I’m a fringe player. I stick a needle in my ass and I’m in the big leagues. Same thing with Gordon. Yeah, you’re good enough to be in the big leagues, but he was a .229 hitter with the Dodgers in 2012 and 2013 combined. Two years later and boom, he’s a batting champ with a brand new 5-year, $50 million extension.
Would you take steroids and ruin your reputation if it meant that you got to keep the $50 million that you earned as a cheater? Props to the people who say yes, and you’re full of shit if you say no. Of course you would, and you can’t even fathom the temptation of making that decision until you’re actually in that position. The chance to take care of your entire family, your kids, and their kids? You’d do it — anyone would do it — and that’s why it’s still happening in a league with PED testing. The risk is certainly worth the reward. You want to get the PEDs out of baseball? Void the contracts for players who get caught. There goes the temptation to even use them in the first place.