Robinson Can(n)o(t) Come Back

Brendan "Seven Costanza" Welshoff
Head of MLB/Podcast Host

Three things you can count on: Death, taxes, and Robinson Cano juicing. We are a long way removed from the steroid era of the 90’s in baseball, but every now and then, we will hear about a couple of notable names who are dabbling in steroids and HGH. Ryan Braun, Michael Pineda, Dee Gordon, and Jorge Polanco are just a few names in the most recent five years, but there are many more who flew under the radar.

You know who has not flown under the radar? Robinson Cano. It takes a special kind of stupid to double down — or triple down depending on the sources you trust — on juicing. Cano has been caught in the past as recently as just two years ago when he was a member of the Seattle Mariners. His punishment was 80 games — essentially half his season. You would think that would be enough of a shame tour for him to endure to NOT do it again. Steroid use or performance enhancing drugs may be the most divisive scandal and issue that has ever faced the sport. It has been a black eye on Major League Baseball ever since it was first reported and made even more public by Jose Canseco in his 2005 book, Juiced.

Depending on your stance, everyone can agree on one thing when it comes to PEDs in baseball; it’s a really bad look on the players. Whether you’re okay with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens receiving votes for the Hall of Fame or you’re just as likely to chastise a guy like Andy Pettitte for using to get back from an injury, it’s clear that each player’s story or encounter comes with the caveat of criticism.

So, where is the line in the sand? When do we as fans rally around the same point of view? I think, in my own humble opinion, that time has passed since the fabled downfall of Alex Rodriguez. Major League Baseball, allegedly, has beefed up testing and agreed on stronger enforcement to decentivize the use of PEDs. The argument that “everyone was doing it” no longer holds water in my eyes. Sure, there will always be a select few who will fail a pee pee test, but it’s fewer and farther between than what it likely once was. We can truly never know just how many players have used or are using today, but because of the stance made by MLB, it’s becoming increasingly less and less widespread.

So, when players are repeat offenders in this day and age of baseball, it becomes almost impossible to defend them, especially when it happens twice in two years like Cano’s case. There have been five players who have been slapped with season-long suspensions since 2013, with one being permanent in the case of Jenrry Mejia. Of those five players who were forced to sit out their respective seasons, all five were repeat offenders. The common thread here is that the punishment increases with each offense, which begs the question — why do it again!? It’s one thing to harp on players who received a minimum of 10 games versus those who received 50 for first time offenders, but when repeat offenses have been proven to be consistent with longer punishments it is somewhat head scratching.

Cano, if you recall, had his worst statistical season in 2019 by quite a wide margin. A lot of his detractors obviously pointed to the fact that he was no longer juicing. The correlation isn’t that outrageous. It is shocking to see a former MVP-caliber player limp to a .256/13/39 line over 107 games the season after he outperformed those numbers in a suspension-shortened season in 2018. So, why in the world would Cano chase the dragon once more? It can’t have anything to do with money — he’s locked in through 2023 that will likely be his last contract when it ends (he’ll be 41 years old). Some may say pride, but Cano’s never seemed like a high-character guy in that sense.

No, for my money, I am willing to bet that he’s chasing the record books. It’s the only reason someone, just two years removed from his first offense, would try the same thing again. It’s likely the same for any player who’s doubled down on PEDs. There’s reasons that obviously differ from player-to-player, but for the most part, it’s a legacy issue that points to why these morons continue to act like Norman Osborn jumping back in the goblin gas tank to get swole.

Insanity, by definition, is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The conclusion is that players who have used more than once are insane. It’s also a big reason why skeptics will not vote for players like Bonds or Clemens. We should only judge based on the information we have, but there’s a dark cloud that hangs over the steroid users in baseball, it just becomes a perfect storm when it happens more than once. By that logic, Robinson Cano cannot come back from this — it’s time to turn the page.

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