Rogers and Palmeiro: Proportionality Matters

On Monday, Texas Rangers All-Star pitcher Kenny Rogers took his case to have his suspension reduced to baseball independent arbitrator Shyam Das in Chicago. Rogers was suspended for 20 days and fined $50K for shoving two cameramen, injuring one, and breaking a camera. Rogers is also facing misdemeanor assault charges as a result of the incident.

The discipline was imposed by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. The Commissioner also heard Rogers’ appeal of his discipline. Leaving the sentence intact, Selig said, "I heard nothing that would warrant either eliminating or reducing the discipline imposed."

Now, I’m not suggesting that an act of violence that resulted in personal injury and property damage warrants anything less than what Rogers got. But if Rogers gets 20 days for assault and property damage, why does Rafael Palmeiro and others who test positive for steroids get only 10 days?

The technical answer is that a ten-day suspension is the punishment for a first positive drug test. But what are the players’ union and the league saying when the drug suspension is only 10 days? It is illegal to use steroids in this manner. It is also cheating, setting a bad example for others, and harmful to the user’s body. And In Palmeiro’s case, it looks like it also involved perjury to Congress.

Broncos and Raiders football star Lyle Alzado died at 43 of a brain cancer he attributed to steriod use during his playing days. Rogers’ actions were wrong, but he didn’t kill anybody. C’mon, baseball, the proportionality of the punishment to the crime tells how serious you are about eliminating bad conduct. Don’t give illegal use of dangerous drugs a slap on the wrist. Amend the drug policy NOW. If conduct leading to charges of misdemeanor assault can draw a 20-day suspension and a $50K fine, then steroid use should draw at least that much.

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

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