Oakland and San Francisco Should Forfeit Games


Cheater Cabrera in action

Participants in sports have a long history of attempting to gain an advantage over others by using various additive substances to increase performance. Take 1904 Olympic marathon runner Thomas Hicks as an example. Hicks made a dramatic finish to the race by collapsing and almost dying as he crossed the finish line to win the gold medal. Yeah, running a marathon at a high rate of speed could do this to someone but in this case the break down was the result of two doses of strychinine-rat poison-often used in that era for bursts of energy. He took the first injection, chugged a schooner of brandy, and continued running. When he started to fade, he was given another quick boost of the rat poison and somehow finished the race.

The World Anti-Doping Agency announced this week it had banned 107 athletes this year and Lance Armstrong is being stripped of his seven cycling titles. Swedish wrestler Thomas Johansson was one of the first Olympic wrestlers to lose his medal, for a positive steroid test in 1984. Marion Jones had to return five gold medals after getting caught and tearfully admitting her cheating ways. Ben Johnson from Canada ran the 100 meters in 9.79 seconds at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, to win the gold but his victory was canceled after he was found to be using steroids and it stunned the world.

Heck, even horses have become involved in doping. At the Athens games in 2004, Cian O’Connor became the pride of Ireland after he won a gold medal in show jumping. However, his poor horse named, Waterford Crystal, tested positive for two drugs prescribed to humans diagnosed with schizophrenia. O’Connor had to return the medal. In the Beijing Olympics cheater Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain had to return his gold medal from the 1,500-meter race. A few hours after the recent London Olympics were over, Nadaeya Ostapchuk, a gold-medal shot putter winner, was disqualified after a dirty drug test and her medal stripped.

Many falsely believe that the doping era in major league baseball-which almost brought down the game- is over as the testing and penalties have cleaned up the game. Obviously, with Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon failing drug tests and getting 50-game suspensions this week this premise is false. They consciously calculated that the risk was certainly worth the reward. And for making those calculations the punishment does not fit the crime. If baseball is serious about making our great game clean and fair forever then it is time for some stern and harsh disincentives.

Hence, I propose that the Oakland A’s must forfeit each and every game Colon pitched this year. The Giants should likewise have to forfeit every game in which Cabrera played. Commissioner Selig should award the American League the All-Star victory in which Cabrera was the MVP for the winning National League.

Cheater Colon Throwing One of His Drug-Enhanced Pitches

Individual sanctions are not working. There have been 76 suspensions this year under the minor league drug program. “Five players have been suspended this year under the big league drug program. San Francisco reliever Guillermo Mota was penalized 100 games in May following his second positive test and is eligible to return Aug. 28. Philadelphia infielder Freddy Galvis and free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd were suspended 50 games each in June.”  ( http://www.njherald.com/story/19347981/bartolo-colon-suspended-50-games-for-positive-test?clienttype=printable

"‘I think the league is doing the best they can with it, and therefore the policy and program is catching people,” Oakland A’s Coach Bob Melvin said. ”I don’t know how much more you can do than that.”"

Well, I do, Coach Melvin. Sanction the entire team by making it an entire organizational problem. By increasing the cost of getting caught by taking away victories of those teams found to have used cheating players, the individual athletes will face rougher consequences both for themselves and their team if caught. They will have to face disapproval and hatred by their teammates. The reality that they have ruined a club’s long season of performance will be an enormous burden and ruin their reputation with all other teams, and fans. This would be a disincentive that few would ever want to test. The risk of getting caught would not be worth the permanent scarlet letter of shame no matter what the financial rewards. Let us not forget, that Colon and Cabrera made their decisions to cheat for money.

Colon will lose the remaining $469,945 of his $2 million base salary this year. He also has earned $750,000 in performance bonuses based on starts and $150,000 based on innings, which are not impacted.

Cabrera was willing to roll the dice because his drug-enhanced performance was going to earn him a huge payday. Before his big year last season with the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera was a .267 career hitter who hit nine or ten homers a year. This year the 28-year-old outfielder was batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first audition with San Francisco. Many thought he might get a five-year contract worth over sixty million. Would you take some synthetic testosterone if you could earn millions? Even though he got caught, you can safely bet that he will get another contract somewhere because that is how the game is currently played.

The current testing program is a joke. Major League Baseball and the Players Union agreed that up to 375 players could be tested during the off-season. MLB actually tested around 50. Why is that? The majority of players are tested twice a year and one of the two is a total fraud. The first test is an announced test at the start of spring training so anyone who fails that one is a complete moron.

Olympic athletes are stripped of their medals, cycling championships are taken away, football teams who used illegal players because of NCAA violations have forfeited entire seasons. Baseball should follow suit and forfeit victories by those teams using cheaters.

My proposal makes it everybody’s business on a team if an individual is using drugs to enhance performance. Peer pressure will make cheating a career-ending decision. Clean teammates will no longer shrug and say that it is an individual’s own business if he chooses to cheat. The incentives are tremendous and encourage cheaters to disrespect the game. Cabrera made a little over a million bucks with Kansas City and if he had not been dense enough to get caught, he was looking at a possible payday 60 or 70 times that.

"Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wouldn’t address Colon’s suspension specifically, but did add, ”I just wish we’d get that loss back he pitched against us.” Exactly right, Coach Valentine. A proven cheater beat your club and had nine other tainted wins, also."

Are you seriously proposing punishing innocent, clean teammates for the selfish decision of one player? Yes, I am. It would be profoundly unfair, that I admit. But it would also work. Baseball cannot go through another drug era. The greatest game on earth must be saved from cheaters who care only about making their millions and care not about staining, disrespecting and killing the game.

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