Column: Baseball still smells of drug use
Bartolo Colon also got caught for testosterone and wasn't around when the Oakland A's needed him in the playoffs. The A's punished him by giving him a million-dollar raise — to $3 million — for this season, plus a chance to earn as much as $2 million more in incentives.
Baseball's announcement last month that it would begin in-season tests for human growth hormone and increase efforts to detect testosterone was, surely, another step forward in catching cheats, even if it didn't go far enough. Selig called it a "proud and great day for baseball" but the reality is there are still not enough tests, and certainly not enough targeted toward suspected cheaters.
But what is the incentive not to cheat? There is none, unless not getting in the Hall of Fame when your career is over counts.
Do the Blue Jays really believe Cabrera is a top-of-the-line slugger when he's not on something? Maybe. Or maybe they're just betting $16 million that he won't be caught using something again.
As for Colon and the A's, it's possible the team just believes he's suddenly a better pitcher at the age of 39. Happens, I guess, but remember this is the same team that signed Manny Ramirez to a contract after he was suspended not once, but twice, for failing drug tests.
Meanwhile, the Yankees keep defending A-Rod even while baseball investigators try to figure out what he did or didn't get from the lab in Florida. Though they surely regret giving Rodriguez a contract that still has $114 million left on it, there's always the chance he could somehow find the fountain of youth, too.
And just the other day the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers was talking about how tough it was that Braun was linked to PEDs once again. What Ron Roenicke didn't mention was that Braun's suspension for elevated testosterone levels was overturned only because of a technicality and not because he didn't actually test positive.
Yes, improved testing will help ensure a more level playing field in baseball. Someday there might even be a slate of players we can induct in the Hall of Fame without wondering how they did it.
But until owners stop throwing money at players they know or suspect of being juiced, the game will always have a lousy smell.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg