Where there is a political will, there is way. It wasn’t even a month ago that an executive member of the MLB Players Association told Bob Nightengale “the CBA won’t be reopened, there’s no way it’s a big enough deal to do that right now. I haven’t heard any rumblings that’s even realistic.” Tough to make changes to an existing document, got it.
Of course, that denial was in regards to altering the qualifying offer system. As Kendry Morales and Stephen Drew sit at home, cooling their heels, it appears the MLBPA and owners are set to address another CBA issue – stepping up punishments for violations of the joint drug agreement.
While the lengths have not been finalized, the sides are discussing a 100-game ban for an initial violation and a season-long ban for a second, one of the people said.
Again, where there’s a will there’s a way. PEDs are a hot button issue upon which everyone can agree. It’s much easier to knock down walls when they obstruct the view of Bud’s money river.
If a clean game is what you want, having the players on board with punishing users is a great way to achieve it. The language of the proposed changes includes reducing suspensions for players caught up in “accidental” positive tests, an important step and key designation. So long as the union is willing to fight on behalf of their members — even those who transgress — can these measures be considered good for the game.
The players union and league are awfully cozy right now and, for the short-term health of the game, it isn’t a bad thing. The ears of the conspiratorially minded should at least perk up when union and management march in lock step on any issue, let alone one that seeks to deprive union members of a full year’s pay.
This burning desire to punish the weak and the speed with which these changes are affected (both sides hope to have the new rules in place in time for Sunday night’s opening game between the Dodgers and the Padres) only points to the player’s overwhelming desire to stamp out this part of the game.
No matter how much more money flowed into the game and flushed the wallets of the MLBPA, drugs are bad and they are on their way out of the game. Despite the growing gulf between have and have nots in the baseball world, despite pushing back potential earnings later and later into a baseball players career, these two entities will strike drugs from the Earth with furious anger.
Or maybe not. as the potential paydays increase, the greater lengths folks will go to in pursuit of those riches. Maybe that’s just my perspective. Maybe I’m a criminal at heart. But ridding the league of those too reckless to monitor what they put in their bodies with 100 game suspensions is put a drop in the bucket.
If only the same political will that can railroad this type of legislation through in a matter of months existed to effect real change to the academy system in the Caribbean. Or worked to provide minor league players — those without big bonuses and snowplowed paths to the big leagues — with a living wage. The optics of those situations are just as bad, but the victims are a little tougher to spot. Or at least, tougher to cry for. Baby steps, though. Baby steps.
Update: Ken Rosenthal offers a report that slightly differs from the terms first laid out by the Associated Press
Sources: Penalties under discussion in new drug agreement are 80-game ban for first offense, 162 games for second, lifetime for third.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 26, 2014