Deterrence - Punishing teams for the sins of their players

Friday, September 30 2005 @ 11:37 AM EDT

Contributed by: TangoTiger

I posted my thoughts at BTF on how to deter behaviours that MLB and the union deem inappropriate (i.e., steroids). Here they are, in a somewhat orderly fashhion. You can skip to my solution at the end, if you are pressed for time.

On what can be agreed to

I support whatever it is the players are supporting, since this is their bodies, and their trade. If 50%+1 thinks that this is fair, that this is how they want to compete, then good.

We fans then get to choose if we want to support them. That's what the dynamics should be.

On role models

I'm sick and tired about the role model angle. I think Mick Jagger and John Lennon did more for drug use than Jose Canseco. If you rewind a Griffey HR, you won't hear him saying that Satan wants you to commit suicide. Parents don't want Ozzy as a role model, but they do want Rose as one, just because sports is "supposed" to be pure? Doesn't Paris Hilton have an enormous effect on young girls? Yecch.

On Olympic comparisons

As for the Olympic comparison, this is also another yechh. These Olympians aren't paid 100% by their accomplishments. Certainly their sponsor deals can have some provisions. But, they all have full-time jobs elsewhere. And, the only reason it's two years, is because of the 4-year window between Olympics. If Olympics were played every 2 years, the ban would be for 1 year. Athletes' livelihood is in play here, so you can't make the comparison that because a ballplayer and a gymnast are both athletes, that that's your baseline. ***

On deterrence

One thing the Olympics do (or did anyway, maybe they still do), is count past games an athlete tested positive as a loss.

Imagine all Oriole games (or at least all Oriole games from May through July) as losses. Wouldn't that be an incredible deterrant? You don't need to be suspended.... you'll be blackballed right out of the game.

Or, you can take a less drastic measure, and give one loss for every player who tests positive. Imagine a young rookie getting caught, and his team gets a loss. They'll hate him. Up the ante. A second failed test would be 5 losses.

You could literally never suspend a player at all, let him keep all his money, and simply publicize the results, and cost his team 5 or 10 games, and that'll have a bigger effect than anything else you can do.

What Ben Johnson did was speed up the anti-doping crowd by 10 years. That's what you need for deterrence. Take away an overall win and add an overall loss to the team standings (or better yet, 2, or 5, or 10). Do you understand how fast steroids would disappear if that happened? 2006 would be a travesty in terms of how the team records will shape up, but you need to have that one shakeout to set things the way the "purists" want it.

A guy can live with a 75 game suspension and forfeiture of his salary, because there is no direct impact to his team. It's all indirect. But, literally taking away wins? There's no bigger deterrant than to drag down your teammates with your problems.

If a player does not forfeit his playing rights or his money, would his lawyer file a lawsuit against MLB for taking wins away from that player's team? Under what scenario would a player file a grievance? That he'll be shunned by his teammates like a leper? That he'll be blacklisted from MLB because no team wants to take a chance of losing automatic games?

HOF voters are going to give Palmeiro a "loss" of 200 HR and 500 hits, aren't they?

And I don't follow college sports, but haven't teams been stripped of their titles for points shaving or cheating? They've been banned from playing in future tournaments too, haven't they? Danny Almonte? I mean, the list is virtually endless. It is the accepted practice that an individual, part of the team, puts his whole team at risk.

Are the anti-steroid fans saying that "steroids are bad.... but not THAT bad?". Do to the Giants and Bulls what happened to Danny Almonte. Believe me, those 11yr old kids felt the pain far, far more than JT Snow or Scottie Pippen would (if Bonds and MJ were nabbed). Heck, in F-1, they remove "points".

The solution

The objective should be deterrence. Punishing teams won't help. Having bans on players will certainlyl involve litigation. Taking away wins from a team is the quickest way out of this.

And for those who thinks it's crazy to alter teams' records, let me say two things:

1 - Does a criminal get to keep the proceeds of his crime? Can he just give it to his family, and his family gets to keep it?

2 - If steroids are in fact "performance enhancers", then the team already benefitted from his performance. They got wins they should not have. How many wins? Take the worst-case scenario, and steroids turns a bench player into A-Rod. A-Rod would be about 8 wins better than this guy in a season, or +.05 wins per game played. If such a steroid-filled player played 20 games while under the influence, he in fact would have contrbuted +1 win that his team did not deserve. So, that's the team should pay back: 1 win per 20 games played.

If it's determined that such a drug was in the system for a minimum of 20 days prior to his test, and by the time the player finally accepts punishment, 100 days have elapsed since his test, then that's 120 days that the player's team benefitted. If said player played in 100 games, that's a 5 win cost to the team.

Wow, sounds like alot! But, the team benefitted (at best-case) 5 wins. They've got to give those back. This is simply restitution. You can give the player additional punishment (like forfeiture of salary during the tainted period).

Pitchers of course have a different scale. You can turn it into a "PA or TBF" scale instead. So, make it 1 win per 100 PA or TBF of tainted performance.

This plan has the benefit of being both fair to the team/player, in that it's simply restitution for a crime, and that it will act as the swiftest deterrant possible.