Judging Jhonny Peralta and PED’s in Sports

MLB: World Series-San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers

I won’t sit here and waste your time.  I will make it this as blunt as I can and start it with a question.  If you thought I was under suspicion of plagiarism, would you still read my material or wait until there was proof I stole/cheated?   This is a similar issue with athletes using performance enhancing drugs and the fans perception of it.    Whenever people have the chance to jump to conclusions and roll around in the dirt with athletes, they run at the opportunity.

People think it is acceptable to scrutinize athletes because they are rich and famous and that it’s perfectly okay to accuse them of cheating.  Before you throw your weight into calling a player dirty or using PED’s, remember that suspicion doesn’t equal indictment in this world.   Sports are a business and not a classroom full of kids.   You may think Joey stole the bubblegum from your locker but unless you have proof lay off the accusations.

When the St. Louis Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta, a former PED user who was caught and served a 50 game suspension in 2013, a lot of people went haywire.   “We signed a cheater!” “He will do it again.”  These are the people who wanted an unproven young prospect to play shortstop or wanted John Mozeliak to wager the future of the franchise on one player.   When Mo made the quick trigger deal for a known substance abuser(caught, confessed and time served), this gave all the blood hounds plenty to run at with all their blogger wisdom.  This guy reserved the right to step back and just observe the situation.

What did the Cards do here?   Peralta used, got caught and was suspended and missed a portion of the 2013 season after using during the 2012 season.    Here is the funny part.  For all the people who say that PED make a player better, they will have a hard time with the newest Cardinal shortstop.   Peralta performed better in 2013, when he was clean, than in 2012 when he was dirty.   As the great sports columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote today, fans and writers have a hard time finding the thin red line when it comes to cheaters in sports.   Peralta broke a rule for sure and was punished, but did the PED make him a better player?  NO.

Good luck shredding the weeds this upcoming baseball season when twitter and facebook explode with instant hits whenever Peralta plays bad or good.  It’s an unfortunate situation but one that the Cards were full aware of when they signed him.   Mo and Bill DeWitt Jr. are business men and not passionate beer drinking loud mouth’s sitting in a pub chewing on stale peanuts.  They have to be diligent because they are taking a fair wager on a man’s good faith here that he won’t cheat again.   My message to my readers is this.  Forget about what Peralta did and keep your eyes on what he does in 2014.   That is what he was paid to do.   No one likes to live in the past, especially when the case is closed.

When a player takes PED’s, that doesn’t automatically make him better.   You don’t grow hand eye coordination as well as bigger biceps.  You have to be able to play.   Why are all the cheaters in the Major Leagues not playing well?   If you told me, I could go out and take steroids and be able to hit 15-20 home runs and bat .280 in an instant, I am not sure I could resist the allure.   It’s too bad that is not true.   There are tons of dirty players in baseball and there used to be a lot of more.   We don’t know all their names because the prosecutors don’t carry a huge need for the players who cheat and don’t produce.  All I am saying is keep an open mind and keep things simple.

If I had made the mistake of cheating in my writing in the past but learned from it and was thoroughly punished, it would be unfair to hang that over my head forever.  If you heard I plagiarized, don’t stop reading until you hear it from me or I am officially caught.  Anything else is a waste of time.   Don’t talk bad about my writing because you think it’s pure theft unless you can point it out and put the cuffs on me.    Don’t label Peralta a cheater for life just because he did so once.   And please, for the love of god, don’t keep players out of the Hall of Fame like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza because they “may” have cheated.  It’s soft, old, lame and pretentious.    Suspicion isn’t equal to and never will be equal to indictment.

Let Jhonny Peralta play it out this year and let the chips fall where they may.   If he disappoints, don’t instantly point out that it’s because he isn’t juicing anymore, because his 2012/2013 stats don’t support it.   If he explodes for a monstrous year, don’t think he must be juicing again because he proved he has a lot of ability outside of his one time mistake.    In the end, keep an open mind with flawed athletes like Peralta.  They are human just like all of us and deserve a second chance even if their bank accounts carry a few more zeroes.

Pitchers and catchers report in 33 days.  It is time to get a little excited.  Go Cards!

Sincerely,

Your local blunt information highway specialist.

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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