The King of All Media Sums Up Baseball’s PED Problems
The most succinct summing up of the steroid aka PED era was today (and in the past) by Howard Stern. If you don’t listen to Howard, you should, and if you dislike him, you’re not someone who’s given the show a chance. Anyway, I digress…
Howard is NOT a sports fan and certainly not a baseball fan. His take, and it’s a good one, is that baseball and its owners sign players to long-term deals and when the contract becomes less favorable, as the player declines, they look for an out. Baseball is a corrupt sport where owners make up what we call MLB and the commissioner himself is a former owner put into power by other owners for the benefit of – you guessed it, owners. I threw in some of my own take here, but let me get back to what Howard noted.
When a deal with a in his prime star like A-Rod is struck, the owners don’t mind paying a big salary because they reap huge rewards – and wins – from the player’s accomplishments. When the player declines, they need to find ways to not pay the contract anymore. Howard’s take is that baseball and its owners all know full well that the league is dirty and most of the player (or certainly a lot) use or have used. They could care less and look a blind eye. This would explain why certain stars seem to go unnoticed until they’re either no longer productive, or perhaps an embarrassment in some way (Mitchell Report era guys (also at end of their careers in most part), Bonds, Braun, A-Rod, etc.). Again, I filled in a bit.
Howard says that since the league is run by peer owners, if the group collectively gets together to fight an obviously guilty but more, no longer valuable player like A-Rod, and give salary relief to a team like the Yankees, then they can do the same when their expensive star is no longer worth the contract. It’s an interesting theory and likely has a lot of truth to it. A-Rod has been a suspect for a good decade, but the war on him hit a head because he was owed more than $80M and sucks, even with his pharmaceuticals.
The ideal thing would be to find a way to void these cheaters contracts which would A) be a major deterrent against cheating, and B) protect teams, since players currently are protected in the form of too many years and too many dollars.
At any rate, Howard’s take that the Yankees and baseball’s problem with A-Rod is he’s old and no longer productive makes sense. I don’t want to be sued, so I will say that many stars around the league to me are obvious cheats. Guys on World Series winning teams, and lesser ones. The system is set up where there’s little reason not to cheat. If you get busted, you get a small suspension. If you get busted again, a slightly longer suspension. If you do the unthinkable and burn the sport to the ground like A-Rod has, you lose one year, but still are entitled to $60M+ when you come back. The Yankees will have to cut him a check to make him go away, and they will. A-Rod has played his last game. Much like Bonds, who actually was still productive at the end of his career, no team will touch the pariah. This is because these people are toxic and would destroy and clubhouse, but also because baseball is an old boys’ network and no one will go against that.
Howard is right. If A-Rod were still capable of massive numbers, he wouldn’t have been battled so ferociously. This is not a statement for A-Rod – I hate his guts. But as much as the players cheat and taint the numbers that mean so much to fans like all of us, the real villain here is baseball. Bud Selig has run a corrupt league for as long as he’s been in office. Now he’s trying to sell it that he cleaned up the game and got tough with dopers. Umm – you allowed the doping to occur. You looked the other way. You knew during that Mac/Sosa homerun chase that the guys were juiced. When Mac passed poor Roger Maris, you knew. You sold the game post-strike on the slogan “Chicks dig the long ball!” You knew. You run a dirty league, and I ask myself all the time why I even bother.
The cheating – as this weekend’s 60 Minutes piece made clear – is ahead of the testing. And the testing is not truly aimed at catching every player who cheats; don’t fool yourself. The fans are the victims, as we love the sport so much we put up with whatever bullshit thrown at us. Cheating, strikes, canceled World Series, asshole owners Bud and his pals approve, etc. We do it because we love the game more than the league itself does – the greedy owners who make millions off of us and plot to extract more out of our pockets.
Howard is right, as he very often is. Baseball only cared about A-Rod because his skills had deteriorated and the Yankees needed a way out. They needed to be protected from themselves. That massive second contract given to A-Rod, they only wanted to pay for the roided up guy who was on pace for 800 homers. Not the toxic douche bag that no longer could play, cost a ton and was becoming a huge inconvenience to the powers that be. Bud, your legacy in my opinion is of dirty tricks and a clear disregard for “the best interest of the game.” That Pete Rose is banned and your time as commissioner is celebrated is nauseating and an insult to anyone who calls himself/herself a baseball fan. Howard is 100x the gentleman than you are, sir. Baba booey to you all.