Punishments are never an easy thing to agree on. Sometimes, they may be deemed too harsh if an authority doesn’t seem fair or reasonable with a decision. Other times, they leave us scratching our heads, wondering how someone got off so easily. This idea is no different when it comes to the world of sports. From fining Jason Kidd $50,000 for a purposely spilled soda, to suspending Johnny Manziel for one measly half, fans can be caught off guard by the severity of some punishments relative to others.
Perhaps the most punitive penalties in all of sports are baseball’s Performance Enhancing Drug, or PED, suspensions. They start with a 50-game ban for one positive test, then 100 games for a second, and finally a lifetime suspension for a third. With 50 games equaling just under a third of the regular season, and players not being paid while they serve their time, the monetary damage from one of these bans can be huge.
Unless you’re Jhonny Peralta, that is. (Yes, that is how you spell his name.)
Last week, Peralta, fresh off his suspension which lasted from August 5th to September 25th for his first positive PED test, signed a 4-year, $52 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. With an average annual value of $13 million, Peralta will be paid more than doubled what he was scheduled to make last year ($6 million) before he lost some of his salary because of his PED use.
Needless to say, this deal caused a lot of controversy on twitter and in talking head land. Current players sounded off on the notion that cheating helped Peralta put up numbers that led to a larger contract. In this case, it is tough to say whether or not Peralta’s production received a boost from PED use. His numbers from past seasons paint the picture of a player who has some power and struggles to get on base consistently. While we don’t know where that power came from, he was never really cranking 500 foot homers and driving in 150 runs a season. Did he get some sort of edge? Probably, but there’s no tangible way to measure the advantage he got.
And of course, one failed test and suspension doesn’t mean Peralta hasn’t been doping all along. He could have cheated his entire career or started recently; as the Tootsie Pop owl says, “the world may never know.” I don’t believe, though, that we should jump on the Cardinals for making this move. If there was ever a class organization in baseball that makes smarter decisions than the rest of the 29 franchises, it is St. Louis. Their front office has proven time and time again that they know what they are doing. Also, if you weren’t supposed to sign a player who was connected to PEDs, plenty of teams would be shopping for several new players.
If this is the rare time when the Cardinals get it wrong, then oh well. What is the harm done? St. Louis will have a bad contract on its books, and it will find a replacement and move on. Taking one contract and extrapolating it into a comment on the state of the game today and a supposed lack of integrity is incredibly shortsighted. This is just one transaction, after all. When a trend starts to develop where PED users get paid more and more, then give me a ring. Until then, let’s not blow this out of proportion.