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Tim Salmon on baseball's drug users: Why not penalize the team?

July 24, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Former Angels right fielder Tim Salmon says Major League Baseball should consider penalizing not only the player for using performance-enhancing drugs, but the team as well.
Former Angels right fielder Tim Salmon says Major League Baseball should… (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles…)

Tim Salmon, whose career coincided with the height of the steroid era, said Wednesday he is delighted that the current generation of players has risen up and spoken up against the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“What I’m really proud of in our game right now,” Salmon said, “is the groundswell of players taking a stand and saying they’re frustrated with the situation.”

Salmon, the Angels’ franchise leader in home runs, spent his entire career (1992-2006) in Anaheim. He said players often would suspect steroid use among their peers but would be reluctant to confront anyone based on, say, “big muscles coming out of his neck.”

Said Salmon: “It was all kind of hearsay. We didn’t have the proof and the evidence these guys have today.”

That was largely because the players’ union resisted drug testing -- in part, union leaders said then, because there was no proof steroids were rampant. The testing that would provide the proof did not come, Salmon said, until Congressional hearings and Jose Canseco disclosures pressured the union into negotiating a testing program.

The program now includes an investigational arm that can catch players without a positive test, among them Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, who accepted a 65-game suspension this week. The so-called Biogenesis probe could result in suspensions for at least another dozen players, including Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

“That it’s happening today shocks me,” Salmon said. “After all the embarassment their peers from our generation had to go through, why would they take that chance?”

But, for those players willing to take that chance in pursuit of a competitive edge, Salmon said the league ought to consider penalizing the player and his team. Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics was hit with a 50-game suspension last season; he won 10 games.

“Take away that player’s wins, and the A’s don’t win the division by one game,” Salmon said.

Salmon said players who pledge support to cheating teammates would no longer do so if the team, and not just the player, suffered the burden of penalties.

“If that guy gets busted and all of a sudden you go from first place to fourth place,” Salmon said, “do you think those guys are going to be supportive of him?”

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