Why do players still cheat?
Consider the bank account of Bartolo Colon.
Colon earned $2 million in base salary this year. Because he got caught doping, he will forfeit 50 games worth of salary -- a bit less than $500,000. That's a pretty significant fine.
But look closer.
Colon has earned, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, $900,000 in performance bonuses based on his innings pitched, and games started. He will keep that bonus and the remaining $1.5 million in base salary this year.
So do the math. When you're 39-years-old and figuring to maybe eek out one more season in the majors, it actually turns out to be worth it for Colon. Even with the 50-game ban without pay, he comes out about $400,000 ahead in the year he cheats -- all thanks to performance bonuses fueled by performance enhancing drugs.
The basic financial risk-reward, in this case, favors the cheater. So his apology aside, Colon can't help but keep that trademark big sheepish grin of his.
When a player can cheat, get caught and still come out ahead financially something is seriously wrong with the system.
It's all a shame, really. Colon has been a leader and a strike-throwing machine. Testosterone doesn't help you throw a ridiculous 38 consecutive strikes. That's a skill, an art. He's no longer a power pitcher. But he must have felt he needed the extra edge, and his bank account is still better for it. Sad all around.
MLB needs to think about mandatory monthly drug testing for all players, which I recently heard former Giant J.T. Snow advocating for.
But the league also needs to consider retroactive penalties against the player and the team. If Colon had to forfeit his bonuses or his entire year salary, would he still do it? Change the mathematics, and I bet he would have thought more than twice.
If teams had to forfeit games in which known dopers appeared retroactively, would they clamp down harder? You bet. If the A's had to forfeit the 10 games Colon won this year, imagine the kind of peer pressure that would bring in any clubhouse to deter cheats. That may be taking it too far, but clearly the current penalty/sanctions don't go far enough.
A lot more needs to be done to change the risk-reward equation.