The Strange Case of Miguel Tejada

 So, I am at the Iowa State Fair with my wife, and I get a text message from a friend that said, ‘Did you see that Miguel Tejada from the Royals got a 105-game suspension? Even if the Royals make the playoffs, he won’t be eligible until next season’. My response was very considered and well thought out and went something like, ‘wow…’. While I was walking the fairgrounds, however, a few different things occurred to me. The first was simply that Tejada is a repeat offender in MLB drug testing program. If he did PEDs and he got caught? Good. That he is a repeat offender and got caught? Even better.

 When I got home after almost 7 hours of round trip driving, I had a chance to kick back with my current favorite lubrication fluid (vodka and tonic with a twist of lemon…), and delve a little more into the Tejada suspension. It is not as cut-and-dried as one would think. First, we need a little background music…

 Miguel Tejada was the American League MVP in 2002. He was dangerous with his bat as much as he was a stellar fielder. He was a six-time all-star, and even at the age of 39, Tejada was still hitting .288 with 3 HR’s and 20 RBI in 53 games this season before getting injured. His career numbers are rather good. Since his debut in 1997, he had 2,407 hits, 307 HR’s, 1302 RBI, with a slash line of .285/.336/.456 (BA/OBP/SLG). Of course, and as can be expected, his production dropped off significantly in recent years. His teammates referred to him as a great teammate and good mentor to not just the younger players, but to everyone. He was a good clubhouse presence…OK, the song is over, now for the dance…

 Miguel Tejada was suspended for the substance Adderall. For those of you who do not know what Adderall is, it is a prescription medication used in the treatment of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), a condition that Tejada has struggled with for his entire MLB career. MLB considers Adderall an amphetamine, and as such, it is a banned substance. They also consider it a PED, because it is supposedly enhances performance. Fair enough, but we are not talking about some tweakers sneaking out behind the bowling alley to smoke crack. We are discussing an adult who has a medical condition, who takes a prescription medication to treat that medical condition that he has had for his entire adult life. MLB knew about Tejada’s condition and the treatment that was prescribed. Tejada had a medical exemption waiver for the last 5 years, granted by MLB, so that he could continue to get the treatment that he needed. His MEW expired April 15th, and when for whatever reason it didn’t get renewed, MLB dropped the hammer on him. There was not even an attempt to correct the oversight. They wanted to suspend Tejada, and they did exactly that, handing out the third longest non-lifetime ban in MLB history (only A-Roid and Steve Howe received longer suspensions). There are several other current active MLB players using Adderall to treat ADD, yet none of them are having any issues.

 This got me thinking. Many body builders take insulin, because it is considered to be a performance enhancer. I take insulin because I have diabetes, not because it is a supposed performance enhancer. There are several MLB players who also take insulin, because they have diabetes. So, what is it, Mr. Selig? Is insulin a legitimate medical treatment prescribed to treat a medical condition, or is it a performance enhancer? If insulin is a PED, shouldn’t it be banned, and shouldn’t the players caught using this dreaded performance enhancer be suspended under the banned substance policy of MLB? What about Viagra? Cialis? Levitra? Coffee? These are all performance enhancers! If they are a PED, shouldn’t they be banned under the MLB anti-drug policy? But if they are prescribed for specific medical reason, it is OK? Yes even caffeine has a legitimate medical purpose (treatment of migraines, nausea…), BUT it is also a performance enhancer. Miguel Tejada has a specific medical condition. He takes a specific medicine, prescribed by a physician to treat that specific condition. MLB knows about the condition, grants a waiver so that the player can continue to take his medicine and when there is some administrative SNAFU, goes and suspends the player anyway. What am I missing?

 I am totally in favor of suspensions for players who use PEDs to gain an unfair advantage over the players who are clean and do it the right way. I do not believe in any way that cheaters deserve to prosper at the expense of players who do not cheat. There are those who claim that this is the steroid era, and that it is just a condition of the times, and that The Game will never be totally clean. There are some that say that players using PEDs is actually a GOOD thing, because people pay money to see offense, to see juiced-up gorillas crush 500-foot blasts, and to see a pitcher uncork a 105-mph fastball. Is this really the message that we want to send? Do we want to condone cheating because it will allow us to be somehow more entertained? This is not the Roman Coliseum, and we are not watching gladiators versus lions. These are grown men, basically playing a childs game, for more money than anyone I know will earn in a lifetime. No, I cannot agree that PEDs are a good thing, and that there is a place for them in the game. They are not, and there is not…ever.

 But back to the story of Miguel Tejada. Did he cheat? Is he a victim? Is he a patsy in the MLB anti-drug campaign? I personally think that if the information regarding this episode is accurate, then there has been a miscarriage of justice. The way I see it, the whole Miguel Tejada issue was a case of a paperwork problem. He needed to get renewed paperwork for a waiver that MLB itself has granted to him for the last five years. Even if Tejada didn’t get his waiver renewed by the stated deadline, MLB could have worked with Tejada to rectify the issue. If this is the case, does Tejada really deserve the third longest non-lifetime ban in the history of baseball? I think not…

 With this suspension I do not think that Miguel Tejada will be back in Major League Baseball. He would be 40 years old by the time that he has served out his suspension, and there are not a lot of successful 40 year old infielders. If he is actually guilty of using PEDs to gain an unfair advantage, then I am glad he got caught. If he was wronged by MLB, as I believe he was, I hope that Miguel Tejada can find some solace, somewhere…

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