October 26th, 2021


How's Your Spring Going?

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published May 6, 2016

Well here we are, deep into spring. Once again young love is in the air, new blossoms are on the plants and trees, birds are singing, gardens are being planted, and baseball players are getting suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Ah yes, spring is here once again.

The latest ballplayer to fall is Dodger relief pitcher Josh Ravin, who was given an 80 game suspension. Ironically the team won't miss him too much, he hasn't pitched for the Dodgers at all this season since he broke his non-pitching arm in a car accident. It's the same old story, Ravin says he came down with a severe case of the flu during spring training and was put on antibiotics. He got so weak that he began taking supplements to try and get his strength back up. He didn't realize that one of the supplements was a banned substance. Hmmm.

Ravin joins about seven other ballplayers (at latest count) who have been found to be using the "juice"this year. They include reigning National League batting champion Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Chris Colabello who have also each been suspended 80 games this season. New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was banned for life the past offseason, after a third positive test.

Undoubtedly there will be more players caught cheating before this season is over. The testing for synthetic testosterone has gotten better than ever before. Players who might have gotten away with it without detection years ago, can be nailed now thanks to more precise testing.

Why do so many pros cheat? Is it the big money? In the case of Dee Gordon he didn't do it for the money, he had already signed a $50 million contract. As someone said "He could have hit .220 and never stolen another base, and he still would have gotten paid for the next five years." And he didn't do it for the power, he's not a slugger, he's a 170-pound slap-hitting leadoff singles hitter. He's a stolen base guy. So why?

Maybe the simple answer is that cheating doesn't carry the shame it once did, not only in sports, but also in all aspects of everyday life. The social stigma is gone. And lots of fans don't care. "So he cheats, so what? Everybody does it. No big deal." The prevailing attitude seems to be if others are doing it, there can't be anything too wrong with it. It's the same with cheating on tests in school and lying to anyone at anytime.

Lying uses to be a big no-no. To be called a liar was tantamount to be called a thief, now it's just a another way to get ahead. Too many sport stars, politicians, lawyers, and big shot business people in public life have shown several generations of Americans that the important thing is not whether you are honorable or not, it's to succeed at any cost. Period. Do whatever it takes to win.

Consider the two leading presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Can anyone think of two more obvious liars, cheaters, and finaglers than those two? And yet they are the frontrunners for president of the United States of America. Sadly, it says more about we the people than it does about the two of them. If the people don't care, than we get what we deserve.

Which brings us back to baseball cheating. What can be done about it? There are two ways to deal with it, in my opinion. One is to simply give up. Go along with all the voices that scream out in defense of the cheaters. Look the other way, stop all testing and just let boys be boys and do whatever it takes to win.

The other way to handle it is to enforce penalties that really mean something. No more 80 game suspensions, that won't do it. The only way is to get tough, really tough. If you are found cheating once, you are kicked out of baseball for life. How's that? That will do it I promise you. Play by the rules or go into another profession.

And that should go for presidential candidates as well.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.