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Health and Medicine

When it comes to baseball, drugs still pay off -- big
Terry Pluto says the only way the taint will stop is if real penalties involving real money kick in

Tim Rudell
Bartolo Colon is among those still making the big bucks after allegations of performance enhancing drugs.
Courtesy of flickr
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In The Region:

Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist and WKSU commentator, gives us his insights into Sports each Wednesday morning.  And today, he has some thoughts on what to do about Major League Baseball' seeming unsolvable problem with performance-enhancing drugs.

LISTEN: What it would take to separate drugs and baseball

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The pattern repeats: Sstar baseball player gets suspended for using steroids, growth hormones or other drugs; then gets a big free-agent contract. And that led to some fellow players tweeting things like "cheating pays."

Terry Pluto says it repeats far too much, with examples hitting close to home.  But, he also has some ideas for making it stop.

"Johnny Peralta and Bartolo Colon, two former Indians, got two of the biggest contracts given to players who clearly had the stain of performance enhancing drugs.”

Peralta and Colon were each suspended for failing drug tests and now Peralta has a free agent contract with the Cardinals for $53 million, and Colon, at 40-years-old and looking overweight, just got a two-year $20 million deal from the Mets.  

Pluto says “you just realize that a 50-game suspension doesn’t faze these guys much at all.”

His solution: 
(1)  “You flunk a drug test, you don’t get a 50-game suspension; it’s a 100-game suspension…first offense; 

(2)  "You cannot sign any more than a one-year contract for the rest of your career;

(3)  If you have a long-term contract in place when you're caught — like Ryan Braun who failed a drug test at the start of his new six-year, $100 million deal — all those years become club options, so you are year-to-year, with the team deciding if it wants to keep paying you.”     

Of course, it would take the player’s union’s cooperation to implement such a change in penalties. And Pluto says that would happen if the union committed to joining with players who play clean, and with Major League Baseball, to clean up the game.

He also says he does not think players who are proven guilty of using performance enhancing drugs should be considered for the Hall of Fame.  “You can have your numbers, and some people are going to vote for you, but I’m not going to do it." And Terry Pluto is a Hall of Fame voter. 

Listener Comments:

Pluto is absolutely correct! We can say anything we want about "the war on drug," etc., but until we actually DO something to stand behind our words, the problem will continue. No wonder some fans are staying away in droves. Baseball is slowly, if not quickly, becoming a farce. Baseball=drugs money.

Posted by: Kathy Robinson (Kent) on December 18, 2013 10:12AM
Baseball has chosen to align itself with corporate clients, not those who work for the price of a ticket to take their family to a game. Marketing to those clients only requires big names, never mind how those big names were acquired. If this pattern continues the circles of users will only expand and with that any opportunity to enlist union cooperation to penalize users will be lost. Oh well, we old timers will die off soon and with us the memories of the good old days.

Posted by: Don Metzger (Valley City) on December 18, 2013 5:12AM
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