Cheating in baseball is nothing new. It has been around for nearly as long as the game itself.
Whether the 1919 Chicago White Sox being accused of intentionally losing the World Series in a betting scandal or such legends as Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford and Joe Niekro putting "foreign substances" (anything from spit to Vagisil) on the baseball to "enhance" its performance on the way to the plate, the game has had its share of cheats.
The latest one to be caught is the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera, the MVP of baseball's All-Star Game last month. He received a 50-game suspension for being caught using a performance-enhancing substance, which is the league's standard penalty for a first-time offender.
It was a blow to the Giants who earlier had lost relief pitcher Guillermo Mota to a 100-game suspension for being caught as a second-time offender.
Of course, this is the same organization that, at the very least, looked away as slugger Barry Bonds broke home run records as his hat size ballooned. Bonds was never caught and Cabrera was.
Now we have a report that Cabrera apparently created a fake website in an effort to make it appear he had innocently ordered the banned substance over the Internet. That hardly looks innocent; in fact, it looks downright devious and, if true, should earn Cabrera additional suspension time.
But this is one player in one organization, albeit an organization with an unsavory
The problem is much greater than one organization or, for that matter, even one sport. At the rate cycling is going, for example, the winner-by-default in the Tour de France will someday be just some guy out for a ride through the Alps.
As we said, cheating has been part of baseball forever and performance-enhancing substances have been part of it for decades, at least.
Any former player of a certain age knows about players taking "greenies" or drinking "the juice." In fact, many such players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) that was embroiled in the Bonds steroid scandal, told USA Today that about half of Major League Baseball players were using performance-enhancing drugs. If anything, we think that estimate is low.
The gravest tragedy of these drugs is not the purity of a given sport's records. It is the example being set, and often emulated, by young athletes.
Steroid use by teens is an alarming problem. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that seventh-grade girls are the fastest-growing group of steroid users. Nearly 40 percent of high school students say they have ready access to performance-enhancing drugs.
We find that frightening and all the more reason that Major League Baseball and the player's union must get serious about drug testing. We'll know the sport is serious about such efforts when it spends more on it in a single year than it reaps in beer sales in one week. But we won't hold our breath waiting.