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Big money key reason players risk using PEDs

Major League Baseball is ready to drop the hammer on 14 players who were involved in a drug scandal including a possible lifetime ban on Alex Rodriguez.

Wow. The next thing you’re going to tell us is that bodybuilders use steroids.

While baseball continues its efforts to police the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) at all levels of professional baseball, the players themselves are beginning to grow angry about the ongoing cheating.

Members of the Milwaukee Brewers said they were upset and felt like they were forced to cover for the already suspended Ryan Braun. Some players have gone as far as to say contracts should be voided for any player caught cheating.

Although that sounds like a deterrent, union lawyers have said “no” to that idea because a player who accidentally gets caught using a minor drug would be forced to void a contract.

Voiding contracts would be the best deterrent since players risk getting caught in an effort to get the huge money deal. Braun has been suspended for the remainder of the season — the Brewers are buried at the bottom of the standings so his loss means nothing — which will cost him about $3.5 million.

However, he still made $5 million this season on his seven-year, $120 million contract. He stands to make $10 million next year and $12 in the 2015 season. His extension is $105 million over the following five years.

The 14 players who face suspensions on Monday join a long list of players who have tarnished the game.

It’s hard to tell who deserves what, especially when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame.

Barry Bonds had 1,917 hits, 411 home runs, 1,1216 runs batted in, a .290 batting average and three MVP awards from the ages of 21-to-33. Between the declining ages of 34-to-42, Bonds had 351 home runs, 780 RBIs, 1,018 hits, a .316 average and four MVPs.

Roger Clemens’ early years of 21-to-33 saw him rack up 192 wins, a 3.06 earned run average, 2,590 strikeouts, an MVP and three Cy Young Awards. During his 34-to-44 years, with his arm supposedly wearing down, he had 162 wins with 2,082 strikeouts, a 3.21 ERA and four Cy Young Awards.

They had Hall of Fame numbers before the alleged seasons when they were poster boys for “Got Juice.” But the money was getting bigger and bigger, so they may have felt it was worth the risk, even if their names and careers would be tarnished.

Ironically, the game’s greatest player was Babe Ruth who lived a lifestyle that did the opposite of PEDs. Ruth drank a lot of beer, swallowed a lot of hot dogs and spent more hours at night on the town than he did in bed.

Ruth spent the first five years of his career as one of the game’s best pitchers. If he had averaged just 20 home runs over that period, he would have more than 800 home runs and Bonds would still be chasing him.

I still consider Hank Aaron the home run king and one of the top five players to ever play the game. And he posted those numbers without any PEDs.

Baseball will keep trying to clean up the game, but as long as there are big contracts you can bet there will be players trying to beat the system.

The payday is worth it to them.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.