Absolutism says that the Tigers should not have welcomed Jhonny Peralta back. After all, if his .450 post-season continues on into and through the World Series, the 50 games he sat out for his association with the Biogenesis lab will seem like a simple detour en route to a lucrative free agent deal.
“Someone,” says Jim Leyland, “is going to get a really good player and a great guy.”
Leyland needs Peralta in the sixth hole after Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, especially with Cabrera fighting through injuries. “He’s served his time, he deserves to play,” says Torii Hunter. “All we’re doing is abiding by the rules,” says Leyland.
Peralta had a three run homer in Game Four of the ALDS, a major blown in a critical win. He knocked in the only run in the ALCS opener, the 1-0 Tiger win. He had a big hit in Game Two. He’s hitting .450 in the seven post-season games with six RBIs.
Now, it isn’t fair to compare the Peralta situation to that of Melky Cabrera last season, when the Giants did not put Cabrera on the post-season roster after he was suspended for a positive PED test. They are different people, in different situations. Major League Baseball and the Players Association has established rules that allows a player to come back, as Peralta did, with three games to go in the regular season, and participate in the playoffs.
There are several Red Sox players who have complained privately that Peralta is allowed to play. They wonder what remains in his body. But as Jonny Gomes says, “we all play by the rules, and he is playing by the rules. So go out and play.”
It can be argued that teams don’t mind, because a Peralta gives a team like the Tigers a better chance to win. Melky came back last season and performed well enough to make the Blue Jays believe he could help them, so he was rewarded with a $16M contract. The Athletics needed Bartolo Colon, so he was re-signed after his suspension.
This is about a risk-and-reward thing, and the reward for Jhonny Peralta and the Detroit Tigers is far more important than a so-called moral judgment about so-called “cheaters.”
This is a season in which the Tigers are expected to win, and if they do not, even though this is really good organization, no one knows who will take the fall. Peralta is 31, is coming off two all-star games in the last three years and may be in for his last big payday. Remember, Barry Bonds built a ballpark and made the Giants one of the premium franchises in the sport. Manny Ramirez won two World Series rings in Boston and upped the worth of the Frank McCourt Dodgers.
We do not know exactly when the PEDS go out of their system; we don’t know if, indeed, the chemists have figured out how to mask whatever they’ve concocted. In the 1988 ALCS, when the Fenway Park crowd chanted “Steroids” and Jose Canseco laughed and flexed his biceps, it did not intimidate him; he was the American League MVP and thought he was on his way to an A-Rod fortune.
It’s all in the rules. And if Peralta is the MVP of the ALCS or the World Series, the Tigers will have won, and we will forever be left to remember that the risk and the punishment was worth the reward.