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It’s spring training for PED moralists, too

Mar 17, 2013, 10:14 PM EDT

Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera hits a two run double against the Yankees during the first inning of their MLB spring training baseball game in Dunedin Reuters

Hey, not everyone can show up in March with their PED outrage in mid-season form. Scott Ostler is going to need to get a few more reps in after this performance:

Among the things that ain’t what they used to be: the shame and disgrace of being busted for steroids.

Exhibits C and C: Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera.

They’re both back in baseball – although Colon has five games left on his suspension – and will be earning nice paychecks, without having to go the Hester Prynne route (look it up, you lazy kids!) where you wear your sins forever.


Cabrera’s salary, what could have been and what now is, is about business, not morality. Same with Colon.

It’s hard to tell exactly what Ostler is arguing other than oblique outrage. Colon and Cabrera have done — or will have done, in Colon’s case — their time and paid the price, according to MLB’s drug policy. And that’s where the buck should stop.

Despite Ostler’s insistence that players caught using performance-enhancing drugs don’t wear a “scarlet letter”, some most certainly do. After an impressive 2007 season at the age of 42, Barry Bonds and his agent stated loud and clear he still wanted to play and would take the Major League minimum salary after earning $15.5 million the final year of his contract with the Giants. $390,000 for a player coming off of a season in which he hit 28 home runs and posted a 1.045 OPS? Somehow, every single GM in baseball passed.

Was it his age? Proneness to injury? Jamie Moyer earned $1.1 million last season at the age of 49 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. In his age 40-47 seasons, Moyer had an aggregate 4.40 ERA. If Moyer could land a job, why couldn’t Bonds? It was the “scarlet letter”. Not every player wears one, but it certainly isn’t non-zero as Ostler implies.

And yes, Cabrera and Colon will collect paychecks and get ample playing time in 2013 after getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs. As is their collectively-bargained right as Major League Baseball players.

Many sportswriters’ tunes would quickly change if they themselves had to endure the level of punishment — sports McCarthyism, in a nutshell — they consistently call for with scathing column after scathing column. Speed to the ballpark to get into the clubhouse sooner to break that sizzling piece of news? Banned from the press box for life.

  1. mathieug79 - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    ohh man…..

  2. paperlions - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Ostler needs a different reference for wearing sins forever. In the Scarlet Letter, only the woman was forced to wear her sin forever….the man suffered no real consequence despite committing the same sin.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      So you don’t think female literary figures can be compared to men?

      • paperlions - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        Nope, I just think it is a bit ironic that only 1/2 of the people engaged in the “sin” are being stigmatized in the example Ostler choose (and I generally disapprove of misogynistic crap like that described in the SL).

      • historiophiliac - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:05 PM


        /throws corned beef

      • historiophiliac - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:37 PM

        Man, paper, your fan club is defensive. Every time I ask you a question I get a bunch of thumbs down. Geez.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        I don’t think I have a fan club….lot of Phillie fans do appreciate my views on their current team composition though.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:34 AM


      • indaburg - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        The phasers were set to stun. Lions’ original statement did not imply that female literary figures can’t be compared to men. It’s just a bad analogy that the book’s circumstances didn’t support. I didn’t thumbs down, but that may be why lions’ fan boys did.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        Ok, why does everyone jump to that conclusion? I was not going ballistic on paper. Jesus, this is why I asked no follow up questions and just said “yea!”

      • indaburg - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        Lions strikes me as a stickler for data and stubborn as all hell, but not a sexist. Asking the question in the first place makes it seem like you thought he might be. It’s not an invalid question, but on the interwebz without body language and tonal inflection, it’s easy to have our words misunderstood. (Hence, the need for a sarcasm font. Although, if I have to explain I was sarcastic, it was a failure on my part, but I digress. Blood sugar getting low, no breakfast yet, rambling thoughts ahead…) Plus Lions’ fan boys are a militant bunch. They’re worse than Bieber fans.

    • indaburg - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      It is a faulty analogy. One of Hawthorne’s points, simplified greatly, is that it was wrong for Hester to be ostracized for her so-called sin.

      • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:56 AM

        Um – to say that “the man” didn’t suffer is flat out wrong. Hester was punished by the spawrtsrighters…heh heh, sorry, I mean the elders. The good Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale wasn’t punished by the community, which didn’t know about his little indiscretion, which Hester and he kept quiet, but by his conscience. He was so consumed with guilt and misery that he stitched a scarlet letter not onto his shirt but directly into the flesh of his chest, over his heart. It was only discovered at his death. Read the book (or at least the Cliff’s Notes) to the end, folks.

      • indaburg - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:07 AM

        It’s been awhile since I read the book in high school. Also, the spawtswriter in this case is forgetting that Hester was rewarded in the end.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:55 AM

        Did the community evince any interest in finding out why she was screwing? I don’t recall that particular witch hunt.

      • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:24 AM

        She was interrogated about it and based on her surreptitious conversation with Dimmesdale it’s apparent that her decision not to reveal the name of Pearl’s father cost her some additional downtime. That, plus it would have undermined the psychological drama at the heart of the narrative – Chillingworth’s grinding process of torturing the truth out of Dimmesdale – to have had the elders force a confession out of her. I think Hawthorne the artist was more interested in exploring the nature of guilt and conscience than in mounting an overtly ideological assault on Puritan sexism and sanctimony.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        I have “fan boys”? This is disturbing to me. Make them go away.

      • indaburg - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        Lots and lots of ’em. They send you letters with the letter “i” dotted with hearts and write fan fiction about you.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        Are you “President indaburg”?

      • indaburg - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        President of your fan club? No, sadly, boys only.

  3. ncm42 - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    So I guess YOUR view of PEDs in baseball is the only valid one, then?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      In this case, it’s the only one of the two opinions actually backed up by reason and logic.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        Oh, sure, and you think reason and logic are better than torches and mobs….is that it?

      • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        That elicits visions of Kenneth Mars with his monocle, curled moustache and wooden arm from Young Frankenstein. ?”Ve haff circumstantial effidence uff your perfidy, oont ve do not neet anysink more than that.”

  4. dondada10 - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Bonds was more than just a PED user, however. He was always a massive douche. I think that played a part in him being black listed, as well as steroid baggage.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      Yet Luke Scott continues to be gainfully employed…

      • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        Luke Scott, from what I’ve read, is a pretty likable guy and gets along easily with his teammates despite his Trailer Park Network talk show politics. And he hasn’t been nailed with, or even suspected of taking, any PEDs (and clearly he isn’t gulping vast quantities of algal DHA either).

    • andrewproughcfe - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      That “massive douche” was busy raising millions of dollars and giving thousands of hours to every kids’ charity in Northern California. His list of charity credentials is about as thick as the San Francisco phone book, and to this day he still gives his time and money freely. And has never even demanded publicity for it as far as I know.

      The ones who called Bonds a “massive douche” were … the baseball writers. Nice group of guys there… Oh, and Jeff Kent.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Mar 18, 2013 at 3:03 AM

        When a teams best player is voted off his team by his teammates while trying to win a championship. You’re a douche.

        When someone finds greenies in your locker and you point the finger at a teammate, you’re a douche

        Bonds is guilty of both, one in Arizona and one in SF

    • jwbiii - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:14 AM

      Bonds didn’t like the press. Find a teammate other than Jeff Kent (and I can tell more about that story if you’d like) who has had something bad to say about him.

      • dprat - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:25 AM

        On pins and needles. Pray, do tell.

      • jwbiii - Mar 18, 2013 at 3:41 AM

        Kent was giving David Bell grief for a play Kent disagreed with in the previous inning. Bonds thought it had gone on enough and intervened.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:59 AM

        Have you not read all the stories about what an asshole Bonds was in college, in the minors, and throughout his entire MLB career? Pretty much every team mate hated is arrogant ass. If they won’t say anything bad about him now that says more about them, than it does about Bonds.

    • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      Steroid baggage is not good. Most airlines will charge you an extra $25 for it.

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 17, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Many sportswriters’ tunes would quickly change if they themselves had to endure the level of punishment — sports McCarthyism, in a nutshell — they consistently call for with scathing column after scathing column

    Look no further than TCM going after writers about their suspected “plagiarism” to see how they react when the shoe is on the other foot. IIRC, Pete Abraham got really serious with TCM over twitter about this exact subject.

  6. jm91rs - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Perhaps he’s saying he doesn’t think the punishment fits the crime anymore? He’s allowed to be upset that a 50 game ban doesn’t seem like enough to some people. I’m not sure if there’s more of his article not posted here, but there are other opinions on steroid punishments and people are allowed to share them. From throw them out of the game forever to let them play as long as we’re entertained, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on the subject (just as hbt is allowed to continually go after any writer that believes the punishment isn’t severe enough).

  7. randygnyc - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Dondada is correct. Bonds was merely tolerated, despite his record setting career, because he was a record setting douche. Without his past accomplishments, he and his massive ego, swaddled by arrogance, would have been dismissed years earlier. The black eye he gave MLB was exponentially worse than the black sox scandal, and the sins of McGuire and Sosa, combined.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      Taking something to make oneself better was a bigger black eye than throwing the World Series for a gambler’s payoff? Are you mental?

  8. randygnyc - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Kevin, the BS scandal happened during simpler times without the pervasiveness of today’s media. Those players were punished and to our knowledge, nothing of the sort was ever attempted again. On the other hand, Bonds broke the 2 most important statistical records in all of sports. Bonds cheated in an era where the teams, along with MLB, were complicit. His cheating went unpunished and to this day, the issues remain unresolved.

    • raysfan1 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      There is evidence that Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were involved in betting on baseball, in a World Series in 1926.

      The Black Sox Scandal was far worse in MLB’s eyes for the simple reason that it threatened the bottom line, and $ is all they care about in the long run. However…The Steroid Scandal, and Bonds’ part in it, adversely affected the bottom line not at all.

      The most import statistical record in baseball is not who hit the most home runs across different eras. The most important record is 27–the most championships by any team in any major professional sport.

      • cktai - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:21 AM

        I think Real Madrid would like to argue that last statistic actually.

  9. stercuilus65 - Mar 18, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    “PED moralists” describe the apologists as well. It would be nice to dump their outrage as well.

  10. pftbillsfan - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    He also fails to mention the flip side, that individuals face unfair scrutiny and labeling for looking bigger, producing more, an “anonymous” source saying that person used steroids.

  11. bigleagues - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Drop “moralists” in favor of “absolutists”.

    You gotto fight mindless propaganda with mindful propaganda.

  12. raysfan1 - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    You make an interesting point. While I would argue that a La Liga BBVA championship is roughly the equivalent of an AL or NL pennant, it might also be argued that European/UEFA championships are actually harder to accomplish than a WS. However, I have to at least concede I overstepped with saying all major professional sports.

    I remain steadfast that some individual accomplishment, even a career achievement, in a team sport is dwarfed by team accomplishments. Much as I do not like the Yankees, 27 WS championships is far more important than who hit the most home runs.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      it might also be argued that European/UEFA championships are actually harder to accomplish than a WS

      The biggest difference is the time period. Due to the way the Champion’s League works, the team plays the year following the standings so you end up with clubs like Chelsea that qualified based on winning it last year, but lost their best player to Galatasaray.

      • raysfan1 - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        Another reason I should have limited my original statement to baseball

  13. buffalomafia - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Enough already

    • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Enough! Or too much.
      …William Blake

      William Blake!!??

      William Blake!

      William Blake!!??

      William Blake!!!

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