|Volquez Suspension Displays Weakness in Punishments||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 24, 2010
It just seems wrong that a player who tests positive for performance enhancing drugs (or anything else for that matter) is allowed to serve the suspensions while he's on the disabled list.Â Yet it happens all the time in baseball.Â The most recent case being Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez who claims that he was taking a medication prescribed in the Dominican Republic in an effort to start a family with his wife. (Viagra, anyone?)Â As a result, Volquez was suspended for 50 games by MLB and won't actually miss a single game, as he'll be on the DL for all of that time.
Suspending a DL'ed player just somehow feels dirty, like some sort of back room deal has gone down.Â It hardly seems to have the transparency and consequence that any active player would have had to face.
Clearly that's a matter of perception.Â Since most suspensions in baseball up until this point have been minor, it's never seemed quite as egregious as this.Â Part of that is our fault as fans and media.Â We've never really seemed to care much about a three-game suspension where the player was on the DL or about that four-game suspension to a starter which caused him to actually miss zero starts.
No doubt we can attribute our lack of interest on that topic to the fact that the baseball season is so long and over 162 games, a two- or three-game suspension in fact seemed rather meaningless in terms of its on field effect.Â But a 50-game suspension gets our attention in the same one that a 15- or 20-game suspension (bet you don't remember too many of those handed out either) would have.
That's not to say that the personalities involved don't also come into play.Â Everyone remembers that Manny Ramirez earned a 50-game suspension, but how many remember Guillermo Mota, Alex Sanchez, Juan Salas, Andrew Rose, Neifi Perez, Eliezer Alfonzo or JC Romero -- all of whom earned PED suspensions?Â Those players weren't stars; they were bit players in the Majors.Â A few more of us remember Jose Guillen (15 games), Mike Cameron (25 games), Ryan Franklin (10 days), Matt Lawton (10 days) Rafael Palmeiro (10 days), and Jay Gibbons (15 games) mainly because they are or were decent players in the Majors.
Volquez brings the matter to the fore, because he was one of baseball's best rising stars and he might well be the second most notable name on the list of players suspended for PEDs (excepting Palmeiro who was at the end of his career anyway when he tested positive) -- and unlike Manny, Volquez will get to serve his penalty at a time he was scheduled to be on the shelf anyway.
And a 50-game suspension is an eye opening one, made moreso by what should be a penalty costing a player a third of a season, and the statistics that he'll be using if he goes to arbitration with the Reds to figure out what he should be paid.
While you can't draw too many parallels with NFL's recent six-game suspension of Ben Roethlisberger, in terms of percentage of the season lost and percentage of salary lost it should be roughly equal.Â And while a starting pitcher isn't the key man that a quarterback is (starting once every five games as opposed to every game), the effect of an NFL suspension seems glaring when compared to every suspension that MLB has issued -- except possibly Manny Ramirez's last year.
Volquez's should seem as severe, so why does it seem like a slap on the wrist?