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On PEDs, baseball needs to set the record(s) straight

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With Ryan Braun’s suspension for 65 games by Major League Baseball, finally a major player is facing significant time for using PEDs, and this will be a sign of things to come. Hopefully that also means changing a few records along the way.

There have been others who have been suspended here and there, like Melky Cabrera, then of the San Francisco Giants, for 50 games.

But Braun is different. Although Cabrera won a World Series title, part of a team accomplishment, Braun won an individual award, the league MVP. He was in many ways the face of the league. That’s what MVPs are, and that is what comes with the exposure they (usually) deservedly get.

Braun’s suspension was actually a deal. He could have been nailed for much more, as the MLB’s evidence, according to several sources, was seen by Braun and his team to be fairly overwhelming. That’s why he called MLB to tell them he wanted to talk after first denying them the chance.

A-Rod of the Yankees is on his way to being next. Broadcaster Ken Singleton of YES Network (a former Orioles star) told WJZ Radio that he thinks the Yankees “don’t want Alex around” despite the fact that their third basemen have produced pitiful power numbers this season, with only four homers from the position all year.

Many people think A-Rod should be in the Hall of Fame based on his sensational career numbers. Others think the same about Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.

Many other people (including myself) thought it was patently unfair to strip College Football Hall of Fame Coach Joe Paterno of a large chunk of his wins because of the school’s child sex abuse scandal, taking away his record of most wins in Division I history.

But there is a difference. Paterno had many faults and the record shows he covered up or at least did absolutely nothing to stem or stop the worst, most insidious scandal in college football history, a dirty scar that will take years to ever heal.

Yet Paterno didn’t cheat on the field. Paterno didn’t use ineligible players or fix a game to win. Yet his records are gone nevertheless. He played the best and beat the best fairly on the field. Eddie Robinson of Grambling, a great coach in every regard, but one who built a career winning against far less than the highest level of competition, is back to being to being Division I’s winning coach.

By why should Paterno’s records be gone, when he didn’t cheat on the field and won, and yet the records of players like Barry Bonds, Rodriguez, Braun, Palmeiro, Sosa and others allegedly involved in PED use – admitted and alleged cheaters – get to keep their records?

Lance Armstrong cheated to win a record seven Tour de France titles. Floyd Landis cheated to win his Tour de France – and even came in-studio with me on “The Tom Moore Show” to deny he cheated.

Then the stories changed. Landis lost his title for good after losing all his appeals. His win was wiped away. He (finally) told the truth about himself and Armstrong, and eventually Lance’s records were wiped away too.

Armstrong spent years denying that he ever cheated to win. He went after anyone who made such a claim. He sued a British newspaper and received a substantial settlement (which they are trying to get back from him).

Rightly, Armstrong’s titles were stricken. I initially supported Armstrong until it became very clear that the evidence – testimonial evidence from his fellow riders and teammates – explained how his teams had eluded testers and test results in a spectacular scam worthy of Danny Ocean.

So seven years are no more. It is as if nothing happened for seven years; just a blank slate at the top of the Tour de France.

So why is baseball better than cycling and college football? Why should Roger Maris lose his fairly earned records of most home runs in a season to a bunch of cheats, whether alleged or admitted?

The simple fact is that some of these records need to go, simply put. If Ford Frick can put an asterisk next to Maris’ 61st home run because he got it in more games than Babe Ruth, and if Pete Rose can be banned from baseball for gambling, and “Shoeless Joe” Jackson can also be banned from baseball for life, why can’t Bud Selig, in perhaps the most decent, meaningful act of his entire baseball tenure just strike the records of Bonds, Mark McGwire, A-Rod, Palmeiro, Jose Canseco and others from a point in time that he deems to be fair?

Why keep baseball’s records tainted when they are in fact tainted, when Paterno’s records, which weren’t tainted on the field anyway, are wiped away?

Commissioner Bud Selig has an obligation to do this, to punish those who records are false. Bonds’ trainer sat in jail for months rather than just come to court and tell the truth. He decided he’d rather face contempt – like a mob henchman sticking up for the mob boss – than come to court and tell the real story about Bonds.

People don’t do that when they don’t have something to tell. He could have come to court and plead the fifth if it was out of self-preservation.

If baseball wants real change, get with what other sports are already doing, rightly or wrongly. Get rid of the false records, the cheater-earned records. Wipe ‘em out.

One Response

  1. In response to Rob Long on 105.7 The Fan today, I say throw out the records that symbolize baseball. I could care less what Greg Vaughn hit or didn’t hit. He doesn’t hold the MLB record for home runs in a season. Bonds does. He cheated, the investigation has alleged and the facts strongly suggest. McGwire admitted his cheating. Palmeiro was proven to have lied, that he did in fact cheat. What good are records if they are fake? What good is it to tell children playing baseball of something to strive for if the results are poisoned by cheating? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Tour de France had it right: erase the records. They didn’t need a positive test result on Lance Armstrong to prove he cheated. They had testimony and erased the records. Baseball should wake up and do the same. To Rob: stop defending a legacy of cheating.

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