It's Time to Start Holding Teams Accountable

Before the office of Major League Baseball could close the book on Melky Cabrera, the proverbial hammer had to be dropped on Bartolo Colon - both players receiving 50-game suspensions for taking performance enhancing drugs while in the midst of career seasons.

The consequences in these cases for the players extend far beyond the missed games.  Melky Cabrera, who was going to be the gem of the 2013 free-agency crop, in line for a huge payday via free-agency, will now be faced with the possibility that potential suitors could be limited and his payday not so large.  For the 39 year-old Colon, there is a strong possibility that he will never pitch in the major leagues again.

I think that things have progressed to the point where players finally get it - sanctions have effectively forced Manny Ramirez and others from baseball while costing players millions of dollars in fines, lost wages and consequential repercussions.  But the lure for some, like Cabrera, who stand to gain so much by taking steroids, will always be there and the war between testing efficacy and masking agents will continue to wage on so Bartolo Colon will surely not be the last player linked to performance enhancing drugs. 

Despite the heightened awareness by the players, it seems as though the teams... the employers of these players and the trainers training them... have yet to be held accountable.  In the case of the Giants, who sort of have a steroid track record (the Giants already had one player, Guillermo Mota, suspended this season for using performance enhancing drugs), Melky Cabrera has meant almost 5 extra wins (in terms of WAR).  If you take five wins off of the Giants record, they would fall from first in their division to third.  

If the Giants make the playoffs, the team will stand to earn millions in extra revenue at the expense of the rest of the division.

And herein lies the problem; the Giants and their training staff, who had the best chance at identifying and catching Melky Cabrera, have no incentive to stop him from juicing.  In fact, they have been rewarded for what he has done this year with a better record and the increased possibility of postseason revenues.

Admittedly, the facts and circumstances surrounding these tests is confidential and I don't know enough about the MLB drug-testing policy to say for sure what happened.  For all I know, maybe the Giants did indeed hand Melky's name over to the Office of Major League Baseball based on their suspicions but given the reaction of people close to the situation and the fact that no one within the organization has said as such, I'm assuming Melky's doping was found as a result of a random test.  

I think that the penalty should fit the crime; in the case of Melky Cabrera, the player is certainly guilty but the Giants, who have two players on the suspended list this season, should be held accountable, as well.  A postseason berth for the Giants would be a tremendous slap in the face to the rest of baseball and I feel that it would behoove baseball to set the precedent that teams need to be vigilant in doing their own testing and monitoring.  I find it very hard to believe that professional trainers and staff with intimate and immediate access to Melky could not  tell that something was up.  If teams were held accountable for repeat violations (instances where more than one player was caught using performance enhancing drugs), it could help change the "don't ask, don't tell" culture that still might exist in some clubhouses.


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