Stricter testing is needed in baseball | NevadaAppeal.com

Stricter testing is needed in baseball

The recent strategy by the Major League Players’ Union is as transparent as glass.

When I heard that the players were willing to open up the collective bargaining agreement, which still has at least two years remaining and take a look at the drug portion of the agreement, I had to laugh. This is a group that likes to call the shots, and rarely gets concerned over how they are perceived by the general public. Baseball has the most powerful union of any professional sport, and that’s not likely to change much as long as Donald Fehr, the union chief, hangs around.

The reason for the change by the players isn’t because they are looking bad in the eyes of the public, and they are, it’s that the players are concerned that if the politicians get a hold of them and the agreement, that much of their freedom to do as they please would be taken away. By going on the offensive, they can come up with something more favorable to the rank and file and keep the politicians away.

It’s a smart move, but pretty easy to read through.

All professional sports – football, baseball, basketball – should have the exact same drug-testing policy. A strict drug policy was instituted in minor league baseball a few years ago. If I remember correctly, the first offense is a 20-game suspension without pay. When you consider how little minor league players make, that’s pretty severe.

It’s a good start, though.

Baseball still has egg on its face from the Steve Howe fiasco. The left-handed pitcher failed six or seven drug tests over the course of his career, and each time the sport welcomed him back. What a joke. Baseball has gone from being the national pastime to the national joke.

Before drugs came on the scene, the game was played by real men who used their own natural abilities to have success. I admire guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Willie Stargell. They hit a lot of homers because they were great players. They didn’t need performance-enhancing drugs to average 40 homers a year. And, they had to bat against guys like Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, who had no problems throwing strikes to a zone that was huge compared to today’s zone.

The pitchers today probably throw harder, but they have to be able to throw the ball into a smaller strike zone, thus making it a little easier for the hitters. If the strike zone was all the way up to the armpits like it used to be, hitters today couldn’t catch up to a good fastball.

The thing that amazes me is why are the players putting their future health in jeopardy by taking these drugs? Is a few years of fame worth death at the age of say 55? Look at a guy like Lyle Alzado, who played in the NFL for many years with the Raiders and Broncos. He popped himself full of steroids at an early age, and died well before his time.

My idea would be weekly drug testing, and if you fail three drug tests, you receive a lifetime ban from the game. The first offense is 25 percent of the season (four games in football, 40 in baseball and 20 in basketball). The second offense you miss one season. All these offenses are without pay.

All sports need testing whether it’s for marijuana, cocaine or steroids. The NBA doesn’t test for marijuana, and that’s a joke. A drug is a drug. It’s against the law, and the NBA needs to treat it that way.

The penalties need to be stiff and hit the players in the pocketbook. Some of the higher-paid guys make more than $100,000 a game. If they have to start doling out 20 percent of their salary when they fail drug tests, maybe they’ll wise up.

Players should be concerned whether they can look fans in the eye or not. I know I wouldn’t want to walk around knowing that people thought I was cheating. Until the situation is resolved, when somebody puts up big numbers there may be doubt from fellow players and fans as to whether the player was on drugs or not.

Ban drugs from the games and make them clean again.

(insert bullet) Being a huge University of California fan, I was outraged to see that Cal was denied a chance to play in a BCS bowl game. It shows again that the system is severely flawed and needs to be abolished.

Cal gave top-ranked USC its best game, and if the Bears had a decent kicker, they might have won that game. Cal had fewer closer games than Texas. Texas barely beat Kansas and Missouri, two average teams. Cal’s only close win was against Oregon. The 10-point win at Southern Miss was nothing to be ashamed of. The Golden Eagles are in a bowl game. The same can’t be said for Missouri and Kansas.

It was a costly drop for the Bears, who stand to lose millions of dollars by playing in the Holiday Bowl instead of the Rose Bowl.

How is it that the NCAA can hold football playoffs in Division I-AA, Division II and Division III, and not in Division I? Can you imagine how big an NCAA football tournament would be? It could give basketball a run for its money.

Take the top eight teams for a single-elimination tournament. Then you would have other teams participate in bowl games.

Sure you are going to have arguments, especially the teams that would be nine or 10 in that scenario, but at least a team that goes undefeated like Auburn did this year would have an opportunity to challenge for the championship.

And, what are members of the coaches’ poll afraid of? Publish your votes, don’t hide behind the system. Unless a team is in the same conference, how can a coach have time to have an educated opinion about a team he’s never going to play?

The coaches in college football need to go to their presidents and demand that the system be changed and a playoff system implemented. How can a college president know what’s best for a sport? He or she can’t. Let the people involved with the game make the important decisions.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.