Recently, 13 Major League Baseball players were suspended for steroid use. Some have called for their heads, demanding that cheaters be permanently banned from baseball. Others say that some of the suspensions, most notably the suspension of New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez for as many as 211 games, are punitive.
I say that this is a witch-hunt, orchestrated by MLB's used car salesman, Bud Selig.
Rather than holding himself accountable for his own complicity in the steroid scandal that for more than 20 years has permeated the sport, Selig has chosen to hurl under the proverbial bus all who are associated with steroids.
But what does Selig do when pitchers purposely deface the baseball, looking to get more break on their curveballs, or more sink on their sinkers? What does he do when a batter corks his bat, looking to get more distance on the fly balls that he hits? And what did Selig do earlier this season when Houston manager Bo Porter got away with a pitching change the rules clearly stated was a change that could not be made?
Nothing. He did nothing.
Apparently, not all cheating in baseball is actually cheating. Apparently, some cheating is just good, old-fashioned sportsmanship, finding an edge anywhere you can find it. Do whatever it takes to win, boys ... just don't use steroids.
The integrity of baseball is at stake, not just when players use steroids, not just when pitchers deface a baseball, not just when players, coaches and managers manipulate the rules, but when the commissioner is allowed to cherry pick the sport's morality and force-feed it to the general public.
If baseball's rules, hypothetically, list 10 different ways of cheating, then all 10 are punishable, and ought to be punishable with the same degree of penalty.
We're not talking about the difference between running through a red light and a double homicide. We're talking about a game. Despite the business aspect and the mass reportage, baseball is still a game. That is why we watch it. And we count on the game be played straight - and honest. So we want the dishonest folks to pay for their deceit.
And they should pay. All cheaters. And not just the steroid-using cheaters.
Bill Helm is a reporter for Verde Valley Newspapers, Inc.
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