- JetBlue pilots vote to unionize; 2 previous attempts failed
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with ‘full-time’ robots
- Navy’s military dolphins may meet Putin’s porpoises in Black Sea
- Forget the Porsche — it’s the guy with the Prius that attracts the ladies, poll shows
- Fired Russian Facebook CEO says site has fallen in the hands of pro-Putin supporters
- Sen. Boozman of Arkansas has emergency heart surgery
- Brazil embraces drones to save the Amazon rain forest
- Teen stowaway shows holes in vast airport security
- Supreme Court to decide if passports can say ‘Jerusalem, Israel’
- Cries of anguish as South Korea ferry toll tops 100
Nationals among players in favor of harsher MLB drug penalties
VIERA, Fla. — Baseball's ongoing conversation about performance-enhancing drugs and Major League Baseball's testing program made its way into the Washington Nationals' clubhouse Thursday morning.
With MLB Players Association representatives in town for their annual meeting with the team, the topic of how to continue to clean up the game arose, as it has at spring training sites across the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.
But unlike in years past, when silence over steroids reigned in clubhouses, many players are standing up to advocate ways to rid the game of performance-enhancing drug users.
"One thing that's not really written about enough is that guys want this," said Drew Storen, the Nationals' player representative in the union.
"I think if you look around, the only way the drug agreement gets to where it's at is because the players say they want it," added shortstop Ian Desmond. "That's how we got to this point."
The question that they're all pondering, of course, is how?
"It's no question [players want a clean game]," union executive director Michael Weiner told The Washington Times. "It's a question of how to do it. ... We'll get the consensus and move forward from there."
Commissioner Bud Selig has strongly advocated for harsher penalties, including upping what is currently a 50-game suspension for a first offense, 100 games for a second infraction and a lifetime ban for a third.
This year, for the first time, in addition to urine samples, players' blood will be tested for human growth hormone and baseline testosterone readings will be kept for each player so that it's easier to detect any changes that come from the use of synthetic testosterone.
That's an important next step, and one on the path Storen believes is most important, regardless of what the penalties are.
"I think the main thing for us is catching the guys who are really doing it," Storen said, though he is not opposed to harsher penalties. "The penalties, they're the stiffest in all of professional sports to begin with and I don't think, for some of the guys who are doing stuff, it's necessarily the thought of missing 50 games that is their 'I better not do that' move.
"I think the guys who are doing it intentionally are thinking that they're not going to get caught."
The union presented the idea of differential penalties to owners, which would make a distinction between what Weiner described as "a tougher penalty for certain intentional cheaters but a lesser penalty for negligent or careless violators," but MLB did not go for it. And union reps are listening to their constituents as they travel from camp to camp this spring.
They're listening for ideas and suggestions, like one Desmond had about altering the penalties to make them harsher without necessarily increasing them.
Desmond, prefacing the idea as "unpolished," described a scenario in which a player would lose 50 games worth of pay but be required to stay with his team and have the opportunity to play.
"It's the manager's discretion, if he thinks the player is performing, then he plays. If not, he's on the bench, but he's around," Desmond explained. "Your face is in front of the camera, you have to deal with your teammates, and if you don't play up to your potential, then if you hit free agency, people are going to see a true evaluation of you.
"I don't think the suspension is what players are afraid of. What players are afraid of is being subpar. And I don't think in history there's been someone who got busted and had to immediately be in front of the camera and say, 'Look, I did it.' ... Let them face the hard road, playing without it, or let them do the extra hard work to be at the level they want to be at. If they play well they get the contract anyway. If they don't play well, the question is answered. Otherwise the question always goes unanswered: Is he that good?"
Weiner acknowledged that any changes to the penalties are likely a 2014 issue because of the complications that would arise in trying to alter the system midseason.
But regardless of when, or even if, changes are enacted, it's clear that the majority of players are thinking about the issue and how they can help to make it tougher to cheat, starting with the tests.
"That's your first line of defense," Storen said. "It's like if you're getting away with murder. We all know that's going to happen penaltywise [with a murder], but if you don't get caught, if you think you can get around it, that's what the issue is, right? It's an extreme example — but at the same time it's a parallel."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, renegade
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- IRS revokes conservative group's tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements: report
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Michelle Obama: Obama family Sundays are more for napping than church
- Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban
- Bonuses given to IRS employes who owed back taxes
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.