Thursday, May 7, 2009

If Baseball REALLY Cared...

...players and management would get together and adopt the same drug-testing rules as the international sporting community.

If baseball REALLY cared, players might get a knock on their hotel room door at any time and be told to pee in the cup (with an official watching), just like cyclists, runners, swimmers and others.

If baseball REALLY cared, a transgression like Manny Ramirez' would earn a 2-year ban, not 8 weeks off without pay.

In the first hour after the Ramirez news broke today, I fielded a newsroom call from a woman I first met 25 years ago. She was a recreational runner who rose from obscurity to become one of America's top marathoners and a 1988 Olympian.

Nancy Ditz happened to be in her car, listening to KCBS coverage of the Ramirez case, and she called to express her outrage. She was mostly angry that Ramirez, by saying he'd gotten whatever he got from his doctor, appeared to be trying to pass the buck. In her world, international athletics, there are still cheaters. But everyone knows the penalties are severe.

In her world, when an athlete gets caught, it can mean a shattered career, not just a few weeks off. In her world, the $7.7 million Manny Ramirez will forfeit is unfathomable wealth, not just a rounding error on a mega-contract.

Whatever you think of our obsession with drugs in sports, does it seem right that some athletes are treated one way and others another way? Remember: baseball was an Olympic sport as recently as last year and could be again in 2016. Should its players be treated differently than other Olympians?

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