The St. Louis Cardinals‘ recent signing of confessed PED user Jhonny Peralta has created a fiery debate among the team’s fans and local media. Some are happy that they have a shortstop who will probably get more hits than the old one. Many more are disappointed that the Cardinals seem to be straying from the straight and narrow in rewarding a cheater.
Haven’t we been down this road before? The Cardinal franchise is no stranger to PED controversy. Long-time manager Tony La Russa has been at the center of questions regarding steroids in baseball because so many of his former Oakland Athletics players have been linked to their use. It is certainly valid to wonder what he knew. Former Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire was welcomed back to the fold as hitting coach under La Russa after admitting to steroid use during his playing career.
Cardinal fans gave McGwire a standing ovation when he was introduced in his new role on Opening Day 2012. They had a love-hate relationship with La Russa that strongly leaned toward love when he won championships, yet there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief after both left the organization, as the Cardinals and PED’s wouldn’t be linked anymore. Fans could feel pride in an untarnished organization again.
Now, they’re going to have a drug cheat in their starting lineup, and the questions and distractions will begin anew. Left fielder Matt Holliday said in an interview at the beginning of this year that he thinks a two-strikes-and-you’re-out drug policy is needed to stop drug cheating. How’s he going to get along with Peralta?
How are fans going to greet Peralta on Opening Day 2014? They loudly jeered Ryan Braun every time he came to bat at Busch Stadium after he beat his high testosterone rap on a technicality. Maybe it was the way he got out of it that they didn’t like, not the cheating itself?
If fans are really against PED use, they can always express their disapproval by not attending the games. It will be interesting to see how things play out in St. Louis in 2014.
Sara Lefebvre is a St Louis Cardinals writer for RantSports.com. Connect with her on Google.