Next Superstar to have Positive PEDs Test? Tiger? Pujols? Poll Results

ryan braun

The biggest story of this past sports weekend was the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  The NL MVP vehemently denies he took the PEDs but he already seems convicted in the court of public opinion. Given what MLB was from 1994-2009 you can understand why new speculation about steroid use is at an all-time high.

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Should BBWAA Rescind Ryan Braun’s MVP Award?

Normally Saturday nights are placid when it comes to off-field news in the sports world, but the regularly scheduled calm was interrupted in a big way when ESPN, among several other outlets, reported that Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. The slugger is coming off a season that saw him hit 33 HR’s and drive in 111 RBI en route to an NL MVP Award, as well as leading Milwaukee to their first division title since 1982. The positive test, if upheld, would mean that Braun would be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season.

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Multiple Outlets Report Positive PED Test for Ryan Braun

After a Winter Meetings marked by big time free agent signings, things took a turn back toward baseball’s not so distant past on Saturday evening. According to reports by multiple outlets, including ESPN.com’s Outside the Lines, Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. If the initial test is upheld, the slugger will be suspended for the first 50 games of the regular season under MLB’s steroid policy.

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Sammy Sosa: A Corked, Corrupt, Conundrum of Saviors, Steroids & History

soxmanandbatboysosacomparison-150x1501

By:  Soxman

On June 3rd, 2003 Sammy Sosa used a corked bat in a baseball game.  With a Ruthian swing, the bat exploded into 1000 pieces exposing a hollow core.  Sosa smiled and walked away denying any knowledge of wrong doing.  Years later this memory becomes the perfect analogy for not only his career, but the career of almost anyone who used illegal performance enhancing drugs.

As the unofficial steroid correspondent for the Sportsbank, I, like most baseball fans can’t say I’m at all surprised by the revelation from the New York Times yesterday that Sammy Sosa was among the 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.  Honestly, with the exception of Sosa himself, who appears to suffer from short-term memory loss, was anybody?

My memory is not short-term either.  After the 1994 season was cancelled, baseballs true most valuable player, the fan, filed for divorce from the game.  One of the seven deadly sins, Greed appeared to forever tarnish America’s pastime.  Attendance was down and the game seemed to lose that magical romantic connection that fans, regardless of age or gender, had with it since the first time they could grip a baseball.

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1998, enter Sammy Sosa and McGwire:  The Saviors of the Game.

Engaged in an epic race to break Roger Maris’ season record of 61* (remember this asterisk) homers, the fans’ love affair with the game was reborn.  Fans flocked, cash flowed, and baseball once again had “juice.” Unfortunately, it was much more than “juice” as the term is used in the world of hip hop, which means “power and influence.”  The balls and players were also juiced up- in a totally different way.

We know now that everyone knew it too, players and owners alike, but they turned their heads because everyone was happy. I question, if the fans knew then, what they know now, would the magic truly have returned to the game?  Maybe, but perhaps on a level equal to that of World Wrestling Entertainment, another “sport” rocked by steroid scandals. Like watching Hulk Hogan body slam the Big Show, Sosa and McGwire traded gargantuan homers.  Would we say: “I know its fake, but I love it anyway.”  Like it requires skill to belt a 500 foot blast, it requires strength to slam 600 lbs like a paperweight.


Enough conjecture, let’s look at the facts.
jose_canseco1

Major League Baseball, modifying a bat or a ball with foreign substances and using it in play is illegal and subject to ejection and further punishment.  Until 2003, it was ok to modify bodies with foreign substances, but not bats and balls.

Baseball has a moral clause since the early 1900s, where illegal actions taken by a player outside the game can lead to suspensions inside the game. Another key part of the moral clause has not been enforced for years.  If a players knows of illegal activity but fails to report it, that player possesses the same guilt as if those who committed the crime. Buck Weaver batted .324 in the 1919 World Series, tallying 11 hits. He also played errorless ball in the Series, yet was banned for life from the game based on his Black Sox connections.

Weaver was banned for having knowledge of other players’ plans to throw the World Series and failing to tell team officials. However, Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox, had learned of the fix before the World Series began from both Kid Gleason, manager of the White Sox, and Hugh Fullerton, a Chicago baseball reporter.  Yet, he was never fined, reprimanded, or punished in any way.  Sound familiar?

Baseball management’s drug policy has prohibited steroid use without a prescription since 1991, but the policy had no penalties associated with it.  Why?  Because fans were happy and money flowed. Sosa sat alongside Rafael Palmeiro, Canseco and McGwire at a 2005 hearing before Congress and testified: “To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”

“I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything,” he told the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005. “I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.”

Sammy Sosa likely lied in official testimony to Congress in 2005.  It’s a crime called perjury.  Yet no moral clause was ever evoked for him or Palmeiro, who tested positive for steroids after his testimony.
So where do we go from here?vince_mcmahon_-_ecw_champion


My final thought on the matter of steroids in baseball is as follows:

Steroid use without a prescription has always been illegal outside of the game in America, so why did baseball develop a special set of laws to govern an already illegal activity?  Where is the moral clause and in fairness to the players, where is the penalty to the owners and executives of Major League Baseball who turned the other cheek in the interest of the game..or the almighty dollar? MLB owners deserves no less scrutiny than Vince McMahon received when his employees started dying from chronic steroid and painkiller abuse.


So the question of the day: Does Sammy Sosa deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

In giving my answer, know this admission of honesty by Soxman.  As a former member of the White Sox, I loved Sammy Sosa even when he wore the colors of the enemy.  I owned a Sosa Jersey, his Wheaties Box, and a hat which commemorated his 66* (like the asterisk?), bombs in 1998. 6th on baseballs all-time HR list with 609*.  1667 RBIs*, 234 SBs* and a lifetime .534 slugging percentage* is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, providing the Hall, which is the protector of our game’s history, however dark it may be, has the courage to tell a truth its owners and players couldn’t.

* All record denoted with an asterisk are reflective of an era in major league baseball where performance enhancing substances while illegal, where not actively tested for.

Is Sammy Sosa Hall of Fame worthy?

Sammy Sosa: Then and now

By Jake McCormick

Sammy Sosa and Brett Favre have more in common than you think. Both road drugs through their highest peaks of success, and enjoyed unanimous admiration by their respective leagues and fans while building themselves into living legends. But in the words of Harvey Dent, they lived long enough to see themselves become the villain.

Everyone knows of the neverending Days of Favre’s Lives episodes carried on by ESPN. Sosa’s career went from hoppin’ happy to corked frustration almost overnight.

Injuries, steroid allegations and declining production turned an icon into someone who had convinced himself that there actually is an “i” in team (another Favre trait, incidentally). After two years denying that no MLB team had a spot for a rapidly aging player that only hit home runs or struck out (currently see: David Ortiz), Sosa will officially retire and “calmly wait for (his) induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.” Can anyone really be that confident when they won’t answer questions about their success?

Sosa and McGwire in 1998In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire single-handedly resurrected nation-wide interest in baseball. It would be hard to say that every game of a 162-game season was as consistently popular as 16 NFL games, but that year came closer than ever because let’s face it – everybody digs the long ball. Now Sosa and McGwire are retired with statistics, as Sosa puts it, worthy of the Hall of Fame.

But both players have seen tarnished legacies result from allegations of steroid abuse that will affect voters. In his first year on the ballot, McGwire acquired as many votes needed for his cause as Ralph Nader did in the 2004 election. This begs the question: is Sammy Sosa a Hall of Famer? Based on precedent, I would argue that Sosa is crazier than Darren Daulton if he thinks he deserves a spot in baseball’s Vatican City.

Dave ChappelleMcGwire’s Dave Chappelle-like Fifth Amendment performance in front of Congress has been used as a strong case against his credibility, which ultimately affects his karma within the baseball universe. But what did Sammy Sosa’s testimony look like? We don’t know because he apparently couldn’t understand English enough to answer Congress’ questions. If my memory serves me correctly, he had no problem answering English-speaking reporters in 1998 or at any other point in his career. This should be scrutinized as much as McGwire’s waffling, yet somehow it takes a back seat.

Throughout the past four years, one man has a perfect bJose Cansecoatting average pointing out baseball’s steroid abusers: Jose Canseco. Canseco is the Nostradamus of baseball and has accused McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and surprise! Sammy Sosa of steroid use. If he’s been on the money with the most famous users, why would Sosa be any different? If McGwire and Rafael Palmerio have/will been denied entry while posting virtually identical numbers to Sosa’s, the precedent has been set that any negative association with the steroid era means Pete Rose has company down the street in Cooperstown.

During his announcement that he was going to make an announcement (you read that right), Sosa refused to discuss anything pertaining to his possible steroid use and said it would not hurt what he has done on the diamond. Considering Sosa’s legacy at this point is 1998 and juice, and he’s so confident in his chances for the Hall of Fame, it would only make sense to answer any questions about his past if he has nothing to hide and believes his body of work will trump any other concern. But Sosa continues to brush any mention of steroid use off, which only keeps suspicions and rumors swirling.

The next 15 to 20 years-worth of Baseball Hall of Fame inductees and candidates will undoubtedly be entertaining. Sosa still has five years before this topic is brought up seriously again, and a lot can happen in that time period. However, baseball prides itself in being a relevant piece of American society through some of the country’s darkest times in the past 100 years. If Sammy Sosa is allowed entry, then anyone Hall of Fame-worthy mentioned in the same breath as steroids should be given a plaque as well.

Manny’s Ban Redefines Good Wood.

By Soxman

Baseball is Life.  While extreme, this statement pretty much defines my passion for the game, my appreciation for anyone who can be successful at it, and for the rich historical tradition which has labeled it America’s Pastime.  Well, if baseball is life I guess you could say that I’m feeling a lot like the biblical character Job right about now.

Big Mac, Clemens, Barry, Raffy, A-Roid, and baseball’s latest boil, Manny.  Or is it?
That was my first reaction to learning that Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball today for testing positive for a banned performance enhancing substance.

Short of insider leaks or Manny giving MLB permission to disclose exactly what he tested positive for, the cloud of suspicion in the court of public opinion in what I believe to be baseball’s darkest era says one word: guilty.

Refusing to play because he’s unhappy with his contract, lackluster effort, promising to be good if he’s let out of his contract were all ignored by me in the past.  Having an agent who drove up ticket prices by redefining the market time and again, never bothered me.  Why?  At least he was clean. Manny said he did not take steroids and was prescribed medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance.  Really?

Now I believe in privacy, HIPPA, and who takes what (as long as it’s legal) is no one’s business.  However, when America’s pastime- the game that made you a millionaire, takes another right hook across the chin, Manny being Manny just won’t cut it.

“Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me,” Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players’ union.
“Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

Of course you have.  But who in the name of Shoeless Joe and Babe Ruth advised you not to say anything else right now?  Scott Boras?

Think about this.   Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire head a long list of stars that have been implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs, right?

The difference?  You are arguably one of the greatest hitters of all-time and the first superstar to be suspended under the drug policy players and owners put in place seven years ago.  As performance-enhancing drugs=steroids to most of America, you should be the ambassador to the game explaining the difference.

Internet rumors have swirled that the drug prescribed by the physician was for sexual performance.  If true, let the jokes about Manny being Manny and not always having good wood begin.  It’s a lot better than being branded a cheater.

As someone created by the dollars of fans who will never see 1/125th of his annual income, Manny needs to go against the advice of those who told him to keep quiet and tell us what he took.  It’s beyond Manny Ramirez, it’s about the integrity of the game.

Manny, as we all know who your agent is, let’s give you some incentive in a language you can easily understand, money.  If it was a banned drug for sexual performance, think of the untapped market potential and thus $$$ this admission could rake in!

“The best player wearing Dodger blue, relies on this little blue pill when he can’t get good wood.”  You can pay me later Pfizer.

I would imagine it would also go a long way in helping the common man feel better about “equipment failures” as well.  You could be their hero.  This could be a marketing boom for you Manny.
Ironically, Los Angeles even renamed a section of seats in left field at Dodger Stadium “Mannywood” last year.  Are you listening to the business opportunities Scott Boras?

Honestly, at this point, if you were banned for taking a banned substance other than steroids, what’s the harm in disclosing it?  Your seat in the Hall of Fame is all you have to lose. My eyes start to water intensely as we peel back the layers on the onion that is the steroid era.  Innocent or guilty, the ball of proof is in Manny’s court to disclose.

If he refuses, I’m pulling out a statement I made once before to all records of this era:  “Kiss My Asterisk.”   It’s like being in school where the whole class is punished because the kids who stole the milk refuse to come forward.  The punishment fits the crime.

A-Rod or A-Roid: a fraud?

By Soxman

Baseball’s best should officially earmark history Is it just me or are you beginning to feel like there may not be a Santa Claus or that professional wrestling might be fake?

For this baseball fan, Alex Rodriguez’s admission to using performance enhancing drugs put every truth in doubt. I remember that when Barry Bonds’ HR records were officially tarnished, sports reporters around the world then appointed Alex Rodriguez as the “savior of the modern era.”  Simply, all believed that when he caught Barry Bonds’ all-time HR record, the legitimacy of baseball these past 12 years would be saved.
Sure, he admitted it…after he was caught!  However, if he was truly an honest person, wouldn’t A-Rod have come clean immediately when people turned to him as the symbol of honesty in America’s pastime?
A-Rod blamed himself and the $252 million contract he signed with the Rangers in 2001 for his decision to use illegal substances.

“I felt a tremendous pressure to play, and play really well” in Texas, Rodriguez said in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons. “I had just signed this enormous contract … I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level.”

Analysis: You had $252 million reasons to cheat.

In the interview, Rodriguez also said MLB told him in August or September 2004 about the list of names that had been seized by federal investigators. “He said there’s a government list. There’s 104 players in it. You might or might not have tested positive,” he said.

Translation: a sigh of relief that he wasn’t caught.

So now what?  Of course, our undying thirst and curiosity to see the gruesome death of the once mighty Gladiator intensifies.  The soap opera element of this sport intensifies and we turn our attention to the other 103 names on the government list.  Who were they?  Was my favorite player on the list?  Where any White Sox players dirty?

Admit it, sports fans thrive on this National Enquirer type of drama.  Who falls from grace next is no different then America’s fascination with watching Britney Spears shave her head out of mental anguish or Miley Cyrus go from child role model to…whatever she’s becoming these days?

Call me delusional and perhaps just exhausted, but I’m ready for this whole thing to just go away.  The record books of our generation have been forever tarnished and there’s nothing we can do to change the past.  Move on.  We can only learn for the future.

A little advice to A-Rod.  If you are truly sorry for your mistakes, truly do something about it and stop making it all about you.

Simply, it is too early to defend your right to be in the Hall of Fame.  Let your actions and play from this moment forward truly define you.While many will argue that you may or may not have been dirty longer than you admitted, offer to have your “dirty years” removed from the record books.  You said it yourself.  You are still a Hall of Famer without them.
(for stat geeks: From 2001-2003 A-Rod averaged .305, 52 HR, and a .615 slugging percentage per season.  For the rest of his career, .309, 39 HR, .574).

Or, rid yourself of the demons.  Donate all, or a portion of your salary from those “tainted years” to the development of a comprehensive education program for children on the dangers of performance enhancing drugs in sports or other charities aimed at honoring youth integrity and honesty.

To the 103 other players on the list or anyone else who cheated in the past:
Do something original and consider telling the truth.

To MLB, Congress, and everyone else obsessed with the Steroid Era:

We know the decade is tarnished and out of fairness to those who were clean, do not eliminate the record books.  However, earmark it accordingly.

If the number 61* can be earmarked forever because it was achieved by honestly and cleanly playing a few more games, then this era is worthy of distinction as well.

As a final thought:

Among all of the steroid allegations and players who were caught over the past several years, isn’t it a real shame that (regardless of his motivation) the symbol of honesty in America’s pastime is none other than Jose Canseco?

I still believe in this game.

Santa I’m hoping you will get me a new utility belt this year for Christmas.