Sanchez bust bad for MLB

first_imgThe Major League Baseball season was supposed to open Sunday night with a celebration of the game. The most storied rivalry in sports history, a matchup between the Yankees and Red Sox, was scheduled to kick off the season. And the story was given even greater significance following last year’s post-season miracle by the Red Sox. But the story Sunday night wasn’t the game — which the Yankees dominated in the 9-2 decision — instead MLB was once again marred by the presence of steroids. In their first suspension stemming from the new performance-enhancing drug testing policy, MLB announced that Tampa Bay Devil Ray’s center fielder Alex Sanchez was the first player caught by the new policy. Accordingly, Sanchez will be suspended for the next 10 games. Of course, that’s assuming the slender center fielder’s appeal is not upheld. But just what effect does this initial incident have on Major League Baseball? And more importantly, is it bad for baseball?Obviously the incident proves that steroid use is not always as prominently noticeable as some may think. When people think of steroids they think of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Giambi and any number of other players of behemoth size. I’m not saying this is fair, but it is a widespread characterization. For example, just look at that the players subpoenaed by the House Government Reform Committee; Bonds, McGwire, Canseco, Giambi, Sosa — not exactly slender players by any stretch of the imagination. But this suspension wasn’t given to one of these enormous power hitters. No, it was given to Sanchez, a slim 5-foot-10, 180-pound center fielder with a penchant for stolen bases and bunt singles, not homeruns. In fact, in his four seasons with Milwaukee and Detroit, Sanchez has amassed a mind-blowing four homeruns. Four … Though, he did have a little extra pop last season, doubling his career mark by drilling two balls out of the park.It seems the public, including this writer, has been wrong with their perceptions of steroid use. These drugs aren’t just for bombers; they’re for pitchers, singles hitters, basestealers, the whole shebang. I dare any baseball fan to say they’ve never based their steroid speculation on a player’s size. No one can, well, at least not without lying.Had you asked me prior to the season to pick the first player to be busted by the new policy, Alex Sanchez would never have come to mind. I watched Sanchez play for two years as a Brewer, and not once did I ever believe he was on the juice. The truth is, he just didn’t look the part.Well, as we’re all much more aware of now, looks can be deceiving. What Sanchez’s bust has done is bring the entirely of MLB players under the microscope. No longer can we believe that monster men like Giambi and McGwire are the only ones on the juice. If it can be Sanchez, it can be anybody. Which brings me back to my second question, is this bust bad for the game? Hardly. It’s a general consensus that there is steroid use in MLB, no one can question that. Increasing the scope of players in question can only help the game. Sure, a cynic (read: The Badger Herald’s regular Wednesday sports columnist) could look at this as vindication that steroid use is indeed exceedingly widespread in the league. But the fact is we can’t prove that. Just because one small player is caught doesn’t mean that all smaller players are guilty. And conversely, it doesn’t free all power hitters from guilt.Sure, improved testing techniques will hinder the ability of some players to cheat — and hopefully Sanchez’ suspension will further drive the point home — but more importantly, it gives the public a bone to chew on. Had no player been busted until late in the year or not at all, a public outcry would have rang through the country, with fans condemning the system even more ferociously than they already do. The word I used earlier to describe the effect this situation had on baseball was “marred.” But that really isn’t the right choice of words. Marred implies that this event hurt the league’s image, but I really don’t think that’s true. For once the discussion of steroids and baseball has a positive connotation, as MLB made its first step toward cleaning up the game, and that’s definitely not “marring” the league’s image or the game.last_img

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