By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) There hasn’t been a forfeit in Major League Baseball since 1995.
But maybe there should be more of them in the future.
A lot more, if that’s what it takes to actually rid baseball of the PED problems that continue to plague the sport and cast suspicion on every guy that puts on a big league uniform and actually fares well while wearing it.
No matter if he’s squeaky clean, or as dirty as a grass stain.
Earlier this week, in the wake of Ryan Braun’s season-ending suspension for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, I received a message from my buddy Josh that read, “Players aren’t going to quit taking PEDs until getting caught punishes teams and teammates.”
As someone who’s already pushed for MLB to be much harder on PED offenders – to the point of even suggesting a zero-tolerance policy resulting in a lifetime suspension for a single failed test – I found Josh’s thoughts about forfeits to be intriguing. And I’d be on board with MLB taking steps to adopt such a measure.
It could work something like this: If a player fails a drug test – or gets caught up in something like the Biogenesis scandal – not only is he suspended, but the player’s team automatically drops 15 or 20 games in the standings.
For many Major Leaguers – and hopefully all of them – I would wager that such a move would be a sobering wake-up call to toe the line.
Because with team forfeits tied to PED usage, it would be like back in high school when your coach tells you that if you can’t finish your conditioning run in time, not only will you have to do it again – all of your teammates will too. That kind of penalty has a way of making guys want to do things right, because you don’t want to see your buddies coming up short just because of your own shortcomings.
Peer pressure is a powerful thing. And while it has surely made players use PEDs in the past, I imagine it also could work the other way in MLB if the right dynamics were in place.
This past spring, the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira told the New York Post about PED usage, “I don’t think it’ll ever go away. It’s just like taxes. The IRS can do everything they can. People are going to cheat on their taxes. The IRS can do everything they can to try to stop it. It’s not going to be 100 percent perfect.”
As we’ve learned since, the IRS is far from 100 percent perfect itself. But I digress. And Teixeira’s defeatist attitude shouldn’t reign supreme in baseball, which should still investigate harsher measures than 50- and 100-game suspensions to try to rout PEDs out of the sport.
This past spring, well before he slapped a 65-game suspension on Braun, MLB commissioner Bud Selig himself issued a call to the league and the players association to develop stiffer penalties for players caught using PEDs. He told reporters, “If people want to continue to do what they shouldn’t do, then the one thing that you have to do is you have to have stricter penalties. It’s as simple as that.”
Maybe it’s actually as simple as forfeits.
At the very least, it’s a penalty worth considering.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.