Your mother probably taught you in good faith that cheaters never prosper, but while the philosophy is noble and the sentiment is encouraging to hear, the real world does not always live up to the positive ideals of its best citizens.
Far removed from the Ten Commandments type of right and wrong that lists really serious stuff, is how athletes perform in their sports. The credibility of games relies on fans believing that they are watching events contested on a level playing field. Without that there is no purpose to the competition.
The rules of engagement are generally explicit and if they are violated there is a penalty. In baseball, the umpires on the scene may take issue with players trying to get away with a catch that was really a trapped ball, or a pitcher lathering a banned substance on a pitch. Transitory misdemeanours at worst.
Far worse, though, are the players who ingested illegal drugs to enhance their performance. In recent years Major League Baseball law has cracked down on cheaters as the system for trapping such players has been improved and grown more sophisticated.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun, the New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon, and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Melky Cabrera were among those nailed by enforcers and suspended for a lengthy period of time. Not to mention the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez who is residing in limbo somewhere this 2014 season.
Cheaters shouldn't prosper
What the other three players have in common is that they cheated, got caught, served their time, and came back to the sport and are again productive, very highly paid players. In fact, in some instances they were rewarded with multi-million-dollar contracts right after they were exposed and served 50 or so games of a suspension.
That’s the part that leaves one queasy. It is one thing to pay the price for a mistake, but quite another to earn bonus money afterwards.
Obviously, many citizens who commit violent crimes are eventually paroled into society. Those who commit felonies do lose certain rights and yes, they are stigmatized. Clearly, popping pills or shooting up performance-enhancing drugs is not a violation of societal norm the way murder or armed robbery is. But there is something about the sight of Braun, Colon, and Cabrera thriving, playing better than ever, making more money than ever, that is unsettling.
Drug use proves worthless
It would be more soothing to think that mom was right and that as soon as that trio returned to the game they would flop without their chemical assistance. They took the drugs in the first place so they would hit better or pitch better. If they are playing as well as ever, or close to it, what does that say about the actual value of the drugs they took? Does this mean that they compounded the stupidity and irresponsibility of taking the supplements when they didn’t even need them?
There is no perfect answer to how those three should be viewed (though certainly their hometown fans are rooting for them) and we do not live in a perfect world, but if there were justice in the baseball universe, Braun, Colon and Cabrera would be failing on the diamond as part of their penance. But alas, it seems, that cheaters can profit.