The Miami Marlins are making the headlines for the wrong reasons again. But this time, it's probably not their fault.
After the high of completing a four-game sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles and extending their winning streak to five games, the Marlins were immediately brought back down to Earth, with a bump, when it was revealed All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon would be serving an 80 game suspension for testing positive for PEDs.
In just one season with the team, Gordon had cemented himself as a fan-favorite and a leader in the clubhouse. Now, everything that he has achieved is being cast under a shadow of doubt.
When you look at Dee Gordon's body type and the way in which he plays the game, banned substances would not be in the forefront of most people's minds. Therefore, as the news broke, many people in the clubhouse and front office were blindsided by the situation.
One person that was not surprised by the suspension, though, was one of Dee Gordon's close friends. In a telephone interview, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Gordon's friend encapsulated the problem that baseball has notably faced over the last few decades in five words:
"Why wouldn't he do it?"
As with anything in life, if there isn't a strong, negative consequence for doing something, then people will often do it. This has been the problem with the way Major League Baseball has handled the PED epidemic ever since the steroid-riddled 1990s.
It's nice that they have adopted a "three strike" approach to banned substance users, but the penalty for the first positive result (80 game suspension and a postseason ban for the same year, which Dee Gordon begins serving tonight) is simply not harsh enough to deter players from trying to unfairly gain a competitive advantage.
While Dee Gordon is the one being talked about all over the news, this problem is bigger than him. It is clear that something has to change in order for players to feel that there is more risk, compared to potential rewards, when it comes to using banned substances.
The Marlins agreed to a five-year, $50 million contract with Dee Gordon this winter, and he will lose less than four percent of that sum over the course of the suspension. If players are taking the drugs for the fame and fortune that comes with on-field success, then maybe a positive PED result should be deemed a breach of contract so that teams are not financially bound to players linked to banned substances.
Dee Gordon's suspension proves that the performing enhancing drug problem is, still, very much an issue in today's game. He will now be forced to sit on the sidelines until the end of July, and it is difficult to forecast how this will impact the team moving forward.
If the Marlins remain competitive, then having Gordon back will likely be comparable to an excellent mid-season addition. That is, if the players and people in the stands still respect him. Gordon will still be getting roughly $48 million over the next four and a half seasons, though, so does it really matter to him if they do or not?