“Stupid is as stupid does,” Forrest Gump says in the famous film, and one cannot help but connect that to now former New York Mets relief pitcher Jennry Mejia who, after two suspensions for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, tested positive for the third time and thus received a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.
In the midst of serving a 162-day suspension because of his second positive test, Mejia tested positive for Boldenone, designed to give users slow but steady gains and which also goes by the brand name Equipoise, a veterinary steroid commonly used on horses.
Now Mejia, a once very promising young pitcher who served as the Mets’ closer in 2014, is out of baseball forever. With its third strike and you’re out policy, MLB is making it clear that it is serious about enforcing its drug policy. Obviously, Mejia didn’t think he would become the first MLB player to receive a lifetime ban under the steroid policy, but now he becomes a cautionary tale for all current professional baseball players and those hoping to become one someday.
As a Mets fan I fully appreciate the implications of the situation for my team and, while you hate see the 26-year-old Mejia’s career ruined, he has no one to blame but himself. Mejia well knew the risk he was taking after two previous suspensions, and now he must face the reality of what he has done and the gravity of the consequences.
The NY Mets released the following statement regarding Mejia:
We were deeply disappointed to hear that Jenrry has again violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support MLB’s policy toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the sport. As per the Joint Drug Program, we will have no further comment on this suspension.
The problem is that the competition is so intense to get to the big leagues and then remain there, and players are always looking for that edge. We only have to look at players like Manny Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Braun, and Alex Rodriguez (and many others who have been caught and lost substantial playing time) to realize that the bigger they are the harder they seem to fall. Guys who were not suspended during their playing time, like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, but who have been tainted by the specter of steroids, face the possibility of never being fairly considered for the Hall of Fame, losing the respect of their peers and fans, and spending their retirement years wondering what might have been.
So for now Jennry Mejia becomes the first one suspended for life and goes down in MLB history in a way that no player would ever hope to have happen. He joins guys like Pete Rose and the eight 1919 Chicago White Sox players on the banned for life list – not the kind of company anyone would set out to keep.
It is incongruous to fathom why Mejia would keep on taking the substance after two suspensions and knowing that subsequent testing was inevitable. We cannot get into the way of thinking that says something like “The gains I make will be worth the risk of getting caught.” There is no rationale to that kind of thinking.
It is a sad day for baseball, for Mets fans, and for Mejia himself. Now that his promising career is over, Mejia can do some good if he would try to turn his life around and talk about his situation. If he would go to high schools and warn young athletes about the dangers of doing what he was caught doing, perhaps Mejia could salvage his reputation in a tangible and meaningful way.
For now Mejia is the first to be banned for life under MLB’s steroid policy, but judging from what we know of human nature and the history of the game of baseball, he probably won’t be the last. There will always be those who take the chance and think that they won’t get caught. Sadly, even Forrest Gump would have been smarter than that.
Photo Credits: nbc