In surprising news this morning, it was revealed that Miami Marlins shortstop Dee Gordon had tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during Spring training, and will receive an 80 game suspension. Last season Gordon had a breakout year, leading the National League in Average (.333), Hits (205), and Stolen Bases (58). Questions are always bound to arise when a player has a breakout season later than is normal in a baseball career, and Gordon is no different. Before being traded to the Marlins in 2015, Gordon had his full productive season for the LA Dodgers and looked like he was finally reaching his potential. But when he made the ridiculous jump last season, a lot of people were surprised by the speed of his ascent to the top.
Gordon issued this statement through the MLBPA: “Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibitive substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences.”
First off, let me just say that it is easy to accuse a player of cheating when he makes the jump to superstardom. Usually when a player is taking steroids, the physical signs are all there. Barry Bonds, who is actually the new hitting coach for Gordon and the Marlins, is a perfect example. Before he started taking steroids, he was a wiry 185 pounds and was stealing 40 bases a season. By his record setting season in 2001, he had ballooned to 230 and looked like a completely different person. But this is what makes Gordon’s case so interesting. Gordon is only 160 pounds and has struggled to keep weight on his whole career. He has been and still is one of the smallest players in the league, and looks like he could be toppled by a strong gust of wind at any moment. This is just further evidence that you can’t use just the eye test anymore to pick out cheaters in baseball anymore, you have to assume they come in all shapes and sizes now.
As for his apology, I can’t say it sounds sincere in the least. He says he unknowingly took something that caused him to fail the drug test, but it’s not like he took something that has many other uses. The substance he took is called Clostebol, and it is a steroid through and through. A steroid as in an official, don’t take this if you play baseball steroid. So I am going to go ahead and assume he knew what he was taking. He basically admits it at the end of his apology when he says, “I made a mistake and accept the consequences.” By dropping the appeal of his suspension today and talking out of both sides of his mouth during his apology, Gordon is essentially taking steps towards a silent admission of guilt.
I guess we will never know for sure if Gordon really did cheat, but the honest truth is that it doesn’t really matter. Now his legacy will forever be tainted because of the allegations, and that is a bell that can’t be un-rung. Fans, experts, and hall of fame voters alike will never see Dee Gordon in the same light again. Sometimes in professional sports, reputation can be just as important to an athlete as their own stats are. Dee might have managed to kill two birds with one stone by failing this drug test. Hopefully this is a wakeup call to the MLB that steroids are still as prevalent as ever in baseball, and they will continue to pump through the veins of players until the league steps up their testing.