FanPost

Context for Melky's Cheating Villainy among Other Rule Violations


I love the articles and comments here but don't post because my perspective is usually represented. But despite the flood of opinion on / related to Melky Cabrera's PED suspension, I have yet to see anyone present a similar, (I think) reasonable perspective on PED use in sports. Seemed like this is too long for an article comment. I wouldn't be surprised if nobody clicks to read one more fanpost on the issue, but here it is:

Some rationalize it (the moral/financial dilemma). Some trivialize it ("steroids don't make you..."; "everyone does it" ). Some argue the merits of the rules ("more 'roids = more dingerz = more fun"). Some get angry ("Melky is dead to me"). Some wallow in vicarious shame for their former hero. And some are sent scrambling to save their fantasy rosters.

An issue that's been oft-missing from this subject is how we view those who break PED rules in sports in the context of other longer-established rule violations. Deliberately breaking any rule to gain an advantage is pretty much the definition of cheating. As such, cheating is rampant is sports, baseball no exception. It seems reasonable to evaluate and deal with the issue of PED use in the context of other forms of cheating and attacks on the integrity of athletic competition. (I'm not going to complicate the issue by getting into "accidental cheating" such as receiving the wrong prescription or whatever.)

The use of certain drugs is against MLB's rules and there's a penalty for it (or more specifically, a penalty for being caught) just like most sports' rule violations.

In football, offensive linemen routinely and deliberately illegally grasp and hold defenders to maximize their blocking efforts. There's a well-known explicit rule against this activity. Those players who intentionally break this rule (i.e. all of them?) are clearly cheaters. There's a penalty to disincentivize players being caught. When such cheating is caught by the game's authorities, the established agreed-upon penalty is enforced against his team. And the game proceeds. When a 49ers touchdown was overturned on Monday Night Football last year because Frank Gore made an illegal chop block, I was sad because I wanted the 49ers to score and win, not because every TV replay confirmed that Gore was / is a cheater.

Ultimately, I not yet convinced that one should frame the violation of performance enhancing/enabling drug restrictions in a different context.

If you want to look past the mere letter and application of the rules and evaluate the ethics of cheating via illicit drug use, I think it's fair to compare some commonly accepted cheats that mock the "integrity of the game." First, think of how great professional-level catchers master the art of "framing" a pitch. It's a purposeful deception aimed to convince the umpire to unwittingly make an untruthful call. Thus earning his teammate an additional undeserved strike call and cheating the opposition of their proper allotment of opportunities. There is no rule against it and it is an accepted (and even encouraged) part of the sport. Similarly, when an outfielder makes a diving near-catch in which the ball in fact quickly bounces off the turf and into his glove, we give no lasting thought to his efforts to cheat the opponent and the game of its natural and true outcome by suggesting that he had caught the ball cleanly for an out.

Players, coaches, umpires, administrators, and fans should recognize that cheating is a part of baseball and most competitive sports. Some of it is unwelcomed and regulated with various penalties while other forms of cheating becomes a celebrated art. Is one intentional attack on competitive integrity ethically worse than the other kinds? If so, by how much? How do we measure the harms? I'm unconvinced that the prolific* use of certain unapproved performance enhancing/enabling drugs are that much greater of a tarnish on the supposed integrity of sport.

There is an accepted penalty for the violation that will be enforced (I happen to think it should be less, but really that's not the issue). The games will go on. People are free to enjoy, dislike, or ignore sports with their own values and priorities. Melky Cabrera has been exposed as a certain kind of cheater and people are free to deal with this news however they want: stigmatize him, asterisk his stats, disown him, not care, celebrate his eventual return, whatever. Its understandable that he is considered a villain for cheating but I think his villainy ought to be considered in reasoned context.

As for me, I wouldn't mind seeing the Giants sign a blood-doped-up Barry Bonds to play the rest of the regular season.


*I don't believe that of MLB players 2011-2012, all except Cabrera, Galvis, Byrd, Ramirez, Mota, and Braun are "clean."

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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