Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ozzie Guillen: I see your 50 and raise you 112

Major League Baseball has become tougher on steroids and performance-enhancing drugs when compared to its past. Only 5 years ago did mandatory testing begin. In fact, no players were suspended for steroid use in 2004.

Beginning in 2005, the penalties became stiffer and public.

2005 penalties: 10-game suspension (1st offense), 30-game suspension (2nd offense), 60-game suspension (3rd offense) and full-season suspension (4th offense).

2006-present penalties: 50-game suspension (1st offense), 100-game suspension (2nd offense) and full-season suspension (3rd offense).

Now Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is calling for even stiffer penalties that will show the sport is more serious about combatting steroid use in the game. He proposes a one-year suspension for a first offender.

It is certainly a harsh penalty, and the MLBPA is as likely to go for this as they are for a salary cap, but I think it would do a lot to improve the image of the game.

Baseball's current penalties are in line with other sports, especially football. By comparison, an NFL player who violates the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs receives a 4-game suspension (or 1/4 of the season). Baseball players get a 50-game suspension (or roughly 3/10 of the season).

Many suspect that everyone in baseball (players, coaches, GMs, the commissioner, etc.) is culpable in this whole mess. But a drastic measure, such as a full-year suspension, will demonstrate to everyone including the skeptics that the sport is ready to turn the corner.

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