Melky Cabrera Banned for PEDs: How Baseball Should Respond

It was a memorable turnaround story in the making.

For years, Melky Cabrera bounced around the league, bringing nothing but his mediocre statistics with him.

Then his fortunes began to change last season. He batted .305 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs last season. All of a sudden, Melky Cabrera was “The Melk Man.”

His encore performance in 2012 was even better – an MVP-caliber season, second in the NL batting race, an All-Star game MVP, and offensive leader for a division leading ball club – until it hit a little snag: the truth.

On Wednesday, Melky Cabrera tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and was suspended for 50 games.

From his teammates to his supporters and to baseball fans everywhere – he deceived us all.

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What should never have been…

It was all a lie. A lie caught up in more lies.

A few weeks ago, a Giants reporter caught whiff of a rumor that Cabrera tested positive for PEDs and asked him if it was true. Cabrera denied ever using them, and the reporter issued him an apology in his next column.

You have to ask – Why Melky, just why?

Why take the chance of your reputation being tarnished forever?

Why bring the steroid era out from under the rug?

Why disgrace the game of baseball like that?

The answer seems obvious – money. Cabrera was set to be a free agent this offseason, and putting up noteworthy numbers were sure to lead to a life-changing payday.

But somewhere along the way, it all came crashing down on Cabrera.

Behind him, he left a shameful, tainted mess. The All-Star game. Home-field advantage in the World Series. The Giants win total so far.

“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should have not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down,” Cabrera said.

Okay Cabrera did own up to the truth so I’ll give him credit for that. But Cabrera’s not sorry for using PEDs. He’s only sorry he got caught.

The steroid era plagued the game for years, and in hindsight, for decades. It was supposed to be a handicap of the past.

In the past five to ten years, baseball has cleaned up the game pretty well. Still some players are still using PEDs, and a few of those are making monumental impacts on the game because of it.

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Does Big Papi’s admission taint that legendary 2004 ALCS 0-3 rally?

Imagine if Melky didn’t use PEDs? The Giants offense, already on life-support with him, would sputter and leave the Dodgers with a considerable lead in the NL West.

Let’s go further back to 2008/2009. What if Manny Ramirez, scorching hot at the time, didn’t use them? The Dodgers probably don’t make it to the NLCS in 2008 and another team gets a chance to make the World Series.

Let’s raise the stakes. What if David Ortiz didn’t use them? Maybe the Red Sox don’t win the World Series in 2004 because they don’t even get past the ALCS, where the Red Sox needed numerous late game heroics from Ortiz to win the series.

It’s time to make the punishments for PED use more stringent so even less players will think about using them.

The current standard is a 50 game suspension for a first time offense. That’s not enough anymore. This is a big boy league, and now it’s time for big boy consequences. How about a season? Let’s add community service during that downtime too.

The current standard for a second offense is 100 games. Second chances are fine, but third chances aren’t. A second offense should be a lifetime ban from the game.

Baseball has done a superb job of ridding the game of PED use in the last five years, but now it needs to finish that job.

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21 Comments

Filed under MLB

21 responses to “Melky Cabrera Banned for PEDs: How Baseball Should Respond

  1. Personally, I think baseball should respond by making the player take the whole pack of PED’s at one time. That’ll teach ’em.

  2. Seb

    Agreed 1000% – meanwhile, all these juiced up loser are getting pennyante punishments and Pete Rose is sitting at home going “What did I do?” and somewhere, Michael Vick is laughing his ass off.

    • While I’m glad that Vick is no longer my quarterback (I’m a Falcons fan) I doubt that he is anywhere laughing. He’s still very much in dire financial straits and let’s not forget that stretch he had to do in Leavenworth; in isloation or not, that’s still prison. These baseball cheaters are neither broke, nor convicts, they are just cheaters trying to get over.

    • I’m sure Vick was laughing his ass off in prison.

  3. What really keeps bothering me is how the steroid users call it a “mistake.” Kudos to Melky for at least owning that he did it, but he still tries to downplay it by using that word. A mistake implies accidental. This wasn’t that. He should say, “I’m sorry for blatantly cheating and trying to get an edge so that I could perform better than I would normally and earn a ton of money and fame because of it.” That’s real.

    One other thing. You mentioned in your article about what might be different if Melky wasn’t juicing, but that isn’t fair. There are plenty of players using and the tests continue to confirm that. It’s only a matter of who gets caught and who doesn’t. We can’t overreact and put it all on the one guy who did.

  4. This is an excellent post. Very well written, so well in fact, that even I understood everything you said. I have a MLB (Yankee) fan in my house, so my only baseball knowledge is through osmosis. I wonder about this statement….”It’s time to make the punishments for PED use more stringent so even less players will think about using them.”
    I wonder if that would really be a deterrent. Getting caught is always the kicker, isn’t it? I wonder if say, maybe their club had to forfeit a title, well, I just wonder. What do I know?

  5. Great post! I’m a huge baseball fan, and the use of PEDs really upsets me. Not a huge surprise that Melky was juicing to be honest. That type of late-career turnaround is always quite suspicious. I’m glad that the consequences are so serious for testing positive–even though I’m a diehard Red Sox fan, I was happy to see Manny finally go by the wayside after it became clear he had been cheating. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I was also Freshly Pressed today (“Five Mind-Blowing Secrets of Outer Space”). It’s really exciting! Keep up the good work!

  6. That job will never be finished, dude. Once you put an end to it, it’s like vaccinations — you have to keep it up at a low level just to make sure you keep a lid on things. The problem will flare up again once we believe it’s been solved and can stop worrying about it. We can’t. Ever.

  7. First, congratulations of being Freshly Pressed. Well written article. I’m a N.Y. Yankee fan and was a bit disappointed when Melky left the team. But I’m usually sad to see what I consider a true Yankee go. However, I don’t think is fair to pose the question if the PED problem in baseball s a Dominican Republic thing. Did you forget about Bonds, McGuire and Clemens? BTW, the latter was never a true Yankee. I used to call him The Merc (for mercenary) while others called him The Rocket. It seemed that an ESPN commentator agreed with me because he also called him the merc a few times on air. Anyway, I agree with Seb in reference to Pete Rose punishment for his mistake. All juicers should be banned for life from baseball if MLB is willing to punish Pete in that matter even when he was not guilty of throwing a game, just on betting.

  8. seanoz

    F*ck the dodgers.

    Great post; though I’ve got an idea: if you are caught doing steroids, you are done for good. No suspensions at all; you’re just gone for good. That would make people think twice before using. If it is wrong, do not do it. Unfortunately, you’ll always have Guillermo Mota’s just trying to get away with it long enough so they can return to whichever tropical country they’re from with enough money to live as kings; but there is also enough money in baseball to test players regularly enough so that nobody can get away with it long–if the punishment is harsh enough.

  9. PEDs are reducing sports to reality TV. Which is fake reality, actually scripted with mostly predictable outcomes. It just sux!

  10. I understand where you’re coming from with your post. It can be upsetting to find that a player is cheating the game, but I have to provide the dissenter’s opinion here.

    Like a lot of other people, I just don’t care about steroids in baseball, or in any other sport for that matter. I’ve heard every argument about the integrity of the game, respecting the history of the game, and so on and so forth. I’m sure I speak for a large portion of the American baseball audience when I say I just don’t care about it anymore.

    Baseball’s history is littered with people trying to gain an advantage: doctoring the baseball has a grand history in the sport, as does the practice of stealing signs. Every so often you’ll hear rumors of teams altering the height of the bullpen mounds in comparison to the game mound to throw off the visiting pitchers. Teams and players are always trying to take advantage of the opposing team however they can.

    When there are millions of dollars on the line, people are going to do anything they can to get an edge, and quite frankly I can’t blame them. Are steroids still a problem in baseball? Sure, but as a casual fan, baseball as a whole has bigger issues that it should deal with first.

  11. Agreed 100000000% 🙂

  12. I fully agree. When the current punishment line up came out I thought they were perfect, but now years later they do are not tough enough. The only way to get steroids out of baseball is to make the punishment severe enough that players don’t want to risk it.

  13. There was more to Melky’s turnaround season than just performance enhancing drugs. Let’s take a look at his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) over the past five seasons:

    2008 (NYY): .271
    2009 (NYY): .288
    2010 (ATL): .288
    2011 (KC): .332
    2012 (SF): .379

    There’s a fair amount of luck involved with high BABIP averages, no doubt, but losing weight before the 2011 season and looking to hit more ground balls is huge factor in Melky’s performance surge. There’s a major difference from when Melky was a pudgy fourth outfielder in New York to what he is now, cheater or not. I’m not defending his choice to use PEDs, but let’s not pretend like injecting himself with testosterone suddenly changed his approach at the plate.

  14. agree Lilly1949, this isn’t a Dominican thing, it’s a greed thing. Look at Giambi, Petitte (can’t recall if he was busted but he juiced), Sheffield, etc and say “what if…”. Everyone wants to shine and be in the limelight and will apparently risk everything to get there. The penalty for using PEDs should definitely be stiffer. I say take them out for season, second offense, ban them from game. What really sucks is there are guys doing things the natural way and they have to go out and compete with these loser, juiced up guys. Still love baseball….I just SMH. What an embarrassment to the franchise. Oh, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  15. Well said. I totally agree. I think it would be interesting to establish a maximum salary for players caught using PEDs. You get caught and you make league minimum the next year. Get caught again? make that 3 years. Players need punishments that hit them in areas they care the most about.

  16. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

    I believe some of your opinions here are misguided. I’ll address two of them.

    1) PEDS are not a just a thing with players of the Dominican Republic. The Mitchell Report implicated lots from all backgrounds. That was an out of line, false comment. I’m not offended but I can’t figure out how that was supposed to add to my reading experience.

    2) Sports overall have a PED problem. Cabrera did not break new ground or shed an unknown light on baseball and PEDs. He should be condemned for cheating, but in a career year when teams are willing paying players over $ 200 million for a contract, why wouldn’t he do it? What’s worth more: your integrity or more money than you could ever hope to spend?

    For most people, it’s the money and that’s why PEDs are going nowhere.

  17. I have to concur with a couple of your responders… Pete Rose got banned for life for what seems now to be merely mischievous compared with the PED cheaters.

  18. Interesting, I watched the Giants play the Rockies just last week. It’s quite sad how normal this is these days though, it’s sort of tarnished America’s favorite past time.

  19. Great post . Not a huge surprise that Melky was juicing to be honest.

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