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  • SPORTS COLUMN: Lifetime bans necessary for A-Rod, Braun

  • Hopefully, nobody uses the word "brave" or "courageous" if Major League Baseball decides to suspend superstars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun 100 games rather than 50 for both their involvement with performance-enhancement drugs and their previous lies about their involvement or non-involvement. Those 1...
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  • Hopefully, nobody uses the word "brave" or "courageous" if Major League Baseball decides to suspend superstars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun 100 games rather than 50 for both their involvement with performance-enhancement drugs and their previous lies about their involvement or non-involvement.
    Those 100-game suspensions are light sentences for Rodriguez and Braun.
    In this ongoing Steroid Era, MLB needs to put its foot not only down but through the floor once and forever and hand down lifetime suspensions for players found using steroids or HGH beyond a shadow of doubt.
    Give the policy some real teeth, not this 50- or 100-game hogwash.
    However, I doubt it'll ever happen because, for one, it's a superstar-driven world that we live in and secondly, there's so many shadowy, grey areas in this ongoing saga.
    Players have received lifetime bans — most notably Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson — for their involvement with gambling, banned for undermining the integrity of the game.
    Similarly, players using steroids and HGH undermine the game's integrity and should be treated on a similar level as fixers and gamblers.
    Sometimes, I wish that I could have my brain cleansed and be freed of words like "performance-enhancement," "doping," "anti-doping," "Biogenesis," "BALCO," "The Mitchell Report" and "Brian McNamee." Never mind all the books written by Jose Canseco, who became the celebrity tell-all former player author exposing steroid use while using the spotlight for rejuvenating his own personal fame and fortune.
    Unfortunately, I am corrupted and like anybody else who grew up watching baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, it's sad that several of our favorite players back in the day (Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens) became associated with steroid use and their baseball accomplishments tainted arguably forever by indiscretions, dishonesty, trials, et cetera.
    For example, I take a look at Rodriguez's numbers over a 19-year career — 647 career home runs and 1,947 RBI top priority among them — and have no reason but to dispute them and not rate him as highly as players from a different era.
    Same goes for every power hitter of the last 25-30 years.
    Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Jim Thome and Fred McGriff, for example, have drawn less suspicion than Bonds, McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa but on some level, anybody's prodigious power numbers in this era attract suspicion. They're all guilty. Just look at how McGwire, Palmeiro, McGriff, Bonds and Sosa have been treated by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in HOF voting.
    "A-Fraud" will not be remembered as fondly as New York Yankee teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. That was apparent before and made undeniable after this week.
    Braun, only in the bigs for seven years, already owns such distinctions as 200-plus career home runs and 1,000-plus career hits, averaging 34 homers and 182 hits per his first six campaigns.
    Page 2 of 3 - He's already been through one scandal. In February 2012, Braun overturned his 50-game suspension after testing positive for elevated testosterone levels following his 2011 MVP season. How did the suspension get overturned? The collector left the sample out for two days rather than shipping it for testing as soon as possible.
    Of course, Braun and Rodriguez may not be suspended a single game. We'll see. However, in the court of public opinion, that's a different story.
    • The MLB First-Year Player Draft started Thursday night and it's quite possible Pittsburg State left-handed pitcher Matt Stalcup will be selected this weekend. Baseball America rated Stalcup No. 406 on its list of 500 top prospects. MLB.com will have a live stream for the duration of the 40-round event. We should also keep an eye out for Girard native and Kansas pitcher Tanner Poppe to see if he will be drafted a third time.
    • Former St. Mary's Colgan standout Nate Arnold, who recently finished his sophomore year at Allen County Community College after one year at KU, plays summer ball for the Terre Haute Rex of the Prospect League. This league features teams like the Hannibal Cavemen, the Quincy Gems, the Danville Dans and the Springfield Sliders.
    On Tuesday, Arnold and the Rex ended the Gems' five-game winning streak with a 5-4 win in 14 innings. Arnold hit a three-run double in the bottom of the second and the game-winning single in the 14th. Arnold's exploits made it in the pages of the Quincy Herald-Whig and on WTHI-10 TV. The Rex and the Gems are tied at 5-1 in the standings.
    • The Pitt/FSCC Showcase begins today and concludes Sunday. Pittsburg Post 64 will play two games today, two Saturday and one Sunday in a slightly-revised schedule — Arkansas Express 2 (9 a.m.) and Next Level Baseball (1:30 p.m.) on Friday, Arkansas Express 1 (9 a.m.) and Mac N Seitz (1:30 p.m.) on Saturday, and Midwest Blacksox (6 p.m.) on Sunday, all games played at JayCee Ballpark. Friday's schedule will also feature a full slate at Lions Field, Fort Scott.
    Post 64 will play in another Pitt/FSCC Showcase June 14-16 at JayCee — games against the Mount Vernon 39ers (9 a.m.) and the Kansas Crush Elite (11:15 a.m.) on Friday, the Andover Trojans (8:15 p.m.) on Saturday and the Neosho Wildcats (9 a.m.) on Sunday.
    The Decker Sports CWS Tournament in Omaha June 19-23 will give Post 64 at least five games in four days, as well as a chance to take in the College World Series. Post 64 plays Omaha Westside HS (2 p.m.) on Wednesday, Putnam North HS (12 Noon) and the Riverbandits (2:30 p.m.) on Thursday, the Keybirds (7:30 p.m.) on Friday and St. Mary's HS (12 Noon) on Saturday.
    This schedule gives Post 64 games against teams from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio, North Dakota and Colorado.
    Page 3 of 3 - • Kansas State (44-17) opens its best-of-three Super Regional with Oregon State (48-10) on Saturday night and Game 2 will be Sunday night.
    The Beavers own a 25-4 record at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, site of the Super Regional. The first game played at Goss Stadium was on Apr. 12, 1907 and seats approximately 3,250. Oregon State, national champions in 2006-2007, has won around 1,100 games on its home field (.700 winning percentage).
    • Wichita State fired baseball coach Gene Stephenson on Tuesday, who built a national powerhouse from nothing beginning in 1977 and who posted a career record of 1,837-675-3 during his 36 years coaching the Shockers.
    On his bio page, it begins "When Gene Stephenson arrived at Wichita State after his hiring in the spring of 1977, he found nothing. No team, no field, no equipment, no tradition, not even a baseball. The program had been dormant for seven years and did not have any history of success."
    Wichita State won the first CWS title by a Kansas school in 1989 — Pittsburg natives Pat Cedeno and P.J. Forbes played on that Shocker team. Wichita State also produced 20 Missouri Valley regular season titles, 18 MVC tournament titles and 54 All-American players, including Joe Carter, its first.
    Despite a regression in records over the last decade from the 1980s and 1990s glory days, Wichita State should have let Stephenson coach out his contract — one more year. After all, Wichita State made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 in Stephenson’s last season.
    However, it never seems to end right for legendary athletes or coaches.
    Babe Ruth and the Boston Braves. Willie Mays and the New York Mets. Johnny Unitas and the San Diego Chargers. Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards. Never mind Woody Hayes punching an opposing player in the 1978 Gator Bowl or the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that ended Joe Paterno's career and tarnished his legacy.

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