Don't Kill The Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Why not include teams in PED punishments?

01/13/2014 10:29 AM

01/13/2014 10:29 AM

So you may have missed it between all the playoff football, but major league baseball took a significant step toward effectively ending Alex Rodriguez's career over the weekend. An arbitrator adjusted Rodriguez's suspension down to 162 games plus the playoffs, meaning A-Rod will be 39 years old and basically have missed all of two seasons when he's again eligible.

The case is signficant for a lot of reasons, of course, most of them self-evident but here's one that's easy to miss:

The Yankees win.

The Yankees save the $25 million they were set to pay him this season, and can now be without a headache for which they've finally found the Advil.

Which brings up another point that needs to be mentioned more:

It's time that baseball include penalties for

teams

in PED cases, not just players.

Now, this brings up all kinds of potential issues. Teams spying on players, for one. But if teams are benefitting from players using drugs, and now if some teams^ are benefitting from those players being suspended, then why shouldn't the teams share in the risk?

^

Not all. The Yankees are something of an exception here. Nobody would argue the Brewers, for instance, are better off with Ryan Braun suspended.

You could make an argument, actually, that it is absolutely in a team's best competitive interests for a player to use PEDs. Especially an aging, or otherwise declining player. If the player's performance improves, good for the team. If the player gets caught, he's suspended, saving the team the salary.

Major league baseball has a lot to be proud of with its drug policy. No sport will ever fully eliminate performance enhancers, of course. The science, pressure, money, ego and fame are all too good and/or enticing. But MLB can credibly lay claim to the toughest policy in American sports.

It does have a pretty major loophole, though, without the teams incentivized in the movement.

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