Baseball will take lumps for PED scandal


DETROIT – Tigers' fans, no doubt, are worried if starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta will get suspended in the latest performance enhancing drug scandal currently rocking baseball.

The Ray Braun suspension earlier this week again put baseball into a negative light.

The headlines and TV sound bites about Braun's suspension without pay for the rest of the 2013 season because of PED use scream that MLB is in a crisis, the sky is falling.

Reportedly, Braun is just the first of more than possibly 20 players who could receive punishment for their involvement in the latest PED scandal, including New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Baseball should be used to this by now. No, not another scandal in the sport. It's about blazing a trail for the rest of the sports to follow.

It's what baseball has always done.

The sport was first in integration. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the majors. Three years later, Earl Lloyd became the NBA's first with the Washington Capitols.

Baseball was ahead of the pack in player safety, forcing players to use batting helmets in 1940. It wasn't until 1979 did the NHL make it mandatory for its players to wear helmets.

It took St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood's lawsuit against baseball to start the ball rolling on free agency. All pro athletes now enjoy the fruits of the work by Flood in 1969. 

Hence, this war on PEDs is no different. Baseball is the first willing to pull back the skin and see all its warts -- in public, no less.

MLB is the only American sports league doing HGH testing. The NFL, NBA and NHL are all sitting on the sideline watching as baseball is raked over the coals for exposing use in its sport.

And while it will look bad and not feel good at this moment, it's the long run that matters most. Let's face it. It's not easy to lead. Time and time again, though, baseball has taken the lumps first. Same goes here.

If you think this is a baseball issue, you have your head in the sand.

This is a sports issue that far exceeds Baseball America. We've seen it in the Olympics, track and field, cycling, boxing, the NFL and the NBA.

Hello, can you can Lance Armstrong? It took him forever to come clean about doping to win all those Tour de Frances.

Plain and simple: You won't find anything if you're not looking for it.

Sure, the NFL has suspended more than 40 players since 2006 for PED use. But many believe more would be caught with advance testing for more substances.

This year, the NFL is allowing a study on HGH use in its sport. Under this program, the league won't suspend players if they test positive. Basically, the league wants to see how rampant HGH use is. Just a guess, very rampant, especially since player need speed and strength to play the sport.

For sure, leagues won't be able to totally clean up the landscape. There's always a new masking agent around the corner. And you can bet athletes -- despite the warnings and penalties -- will continue to try to get an edge, an advantage.

Just a quick question. How's the war on drugs going? Not good, despite all the money and efforts thrown at the problem by the government in this country. Prisons are stuffed with people who abuse drugs.

Let's be honest. Most of the fast-food restaurants would be closed down if workers had to take daily drug tests. The same holds true for executives at big companies. They'd be sent packing as well.

It's not a case of trying to justify it. It's more about the reality of the situation in American today. The country is nearly ODed on illegal prescription drugs.

It's almost funny. Some of those same fans yelling at baseball players for their PED use are probably using something to enhance their performance in the bedroom.

People will always look to perform better, almost at any cost.

Go ahead. Yell and scream at baseball. Tell your friends baseball is filled with 'Roid Heads.

Just remember all that stuff you're saying when the NFL and NBA start looking harder for illegal use of PEDs and find what baseball has.

You better just remember MLB took the lead -- and the lumps -- to clean up its game first.