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Here We Go Again? - Verducci & Baseball's New Drug Prob

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#1 ItOnceWasMyLife

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 09:50 PM

Just like old times.

First paragraph.

Major League Baseball has a drug problem again and is engaged in discussions with the players' association regarding what to do about it. The very specific problem is the use of fast-acting synthetic testosterone, the primary performance-enhancing drug of choice among emboldened players who believe they can avoid detection with dosages that are carefully timed and controlled.

Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

#2 JimBoSox9

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 09:57 PM

Well, the good news is, if it were just like old times, Verducci would have spent a decade ignoring it first.

There are always going to be new drugs, drugs that can beat the agreed-upon tests. There are always going to be players who think they can beat the tests with the old drugs. There's really no old/new times anymore. It's going to be constant. Pandora's box is open and this is the new reality.

#3 ItOnceWasMyLife

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 11:48 PM

Can't disagree with that. Also can't disagree with Verducci's point that 50 games is not a deterrent for these guys. It needs to change to a full season or even two before the scales might start to turn.

#4 JimBoSox9

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:18 PM

Ah, you are speaking a language I am familiar with. In another life I produced a documentary about the "dry campus" policy at my university and the resulting impact in drinking & driving. This is something I learned interviewing criminal justice and psychology professors. Not exactly innovative or new to many but very relevant:

When looking at laws as a deterrent (in this case, laws = CBA), there are two factors; the severity of punishment and the likelihood of being caught. Increasing the severity, as you suggest, is likely to have minimal impact at best if the second half of the equation (will I get caught?) is unchanged. However, that relationship only lasts to a point - if either factor is elevated to a nuclear level - a lifetime ban for first offenders or a 75%+ chance of being caught, say - then deterrence skyrockets. For any particular law, figuring out where that tipping point for either factor requires study of the affected population.

Additionally, reaching those nuclear levels is often not feasible. In this example, there is too much uncertainty in test results to enforce a massive first-offender punishment, to say nothing of the Player's Association's negotiating power. Science suggests that we will not get to a place where the large majority of offenders are caught anytime soon.

This means that what I call an Unbalanced Deterrance system, extreme weighting towards either factor, is probably unachievable. A Balanced system is the only path. Here I veer into personal opinion: it's working better than it was. A MVP would have been busted if his lawyers hadn't been able to find an irregularity in the chain of custody. But because these tests still aren't close enough to perfect, I'm uncomfortable raising the penalty on first-time offenders. Here are the changes I'd make:

1) Increase the penalty for 2nd time offenders from 1 season to 2 seasons, and three strikes and you're out - forever.

2) change the CBA language to allow for more random testing and auto-modernizing of tests as scientific breakthroughs occur. When you can't increase enforcement, randomize it.

3) work with the testing vendor on their pocess to make sure a Braun incident doesn't occur again.

4) Remove non-PEDs from the testing/punishment language. It's not the league's place to monitor recreational drug usage, and frankly suspending players for marijuana usage in particular is archaic.

#5 ItOnceWasMyLife

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

Good points again. Balance is always preferable and your points on the player's associate's influence can not be understated. I'd vary slightly in the priority of changes. Mainly your #1 would do nothing (almost) to anyone until they've been caught the first time. And as you noted, that's not all that frequent an occurrence.

My number 1 would be building confidence in the test and testing process. You're right, the Braun case was a huge blow to this and it must not happen again. Your #3 essentially.

My number 2 would be if the confidence is there then some progress can be made on strengthening the punishments. Not just length but disqualification of award and post-season eligibility (the Melky rule). Get creative here. Extend the time to hit free agency for the younger players. It's 6 years now, make them add a year for a positive test. The effect would be a major hit to the wallet and to their freedom. I'd support a 2 strikes and your out policy. Everyone deserves a second chance, but that should be it. I fully support your elimination of non-PED's from testing. That's law enforcement's issue, not MLB's.

You know, really, it's the same as you have above. I'd just expand the variety of punishments as much as possible.

#6 FurthestfromtheCore

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:23 AM

Can teams do more about it if they wanted to? I would think putting the option to annul a contract if a players is found to be using, or even administering their own tests, would do a lot to deter players.


Once again it seems owners are not getting a fair share of the blame here. In any other business you would be considered responsible for your employees' actions.