Please note that this is one writer's opinion, not the official position of Red Sox Life.-- J.C.
1. Complete amnesty for all prior offenses. This includes dismissal of any and all pending legal actions against players. We’re talking about a game that they played for our entertainment. If they used artificial means to be more famous and make more money, well, so did a lot of actors.
This amnesty also includes full Hall of Fame eligibility, though (as Bill Simmons has suggested) the Hall of Fame plaque should note that they were caught taking steroids. Hall of Fame selection – baseball writers voting – has always been problematic, but one thing the writers really torture themselves over is the steroid question. “Do I vote for Bonds, the best player of our era?” Crikey, MLB --- just tell them Bonds is eligible.
We tend to think excluding people from the Hall dooms them to obscurity, but I submit that the Black Sox are more famous than most other players of that era. According to a book called The Black Prince of Baseball, a biography of Hal Chase, as many as 20% of regular season games were fixed at that time. John McGraw was accused of fixing games. Yes, John McGraw.
2. Starting on the first day of the 2012 season, anyone caught using is out of the game and banned for life.
Why oppose a ban for others, but start one now? For one thing, it’s clear that only a few people have been caught. Nobody ever suspected Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez, because they have been so consistent over the years. But if they were using, who wasn’t? The Mitchell Report pegged the steroid usage at “at least” 15%, if memory serves. Jose Canseco said it was 85%.Let’s assume that it's 25% -- that means it most likely hit every team (yes, even the Cubs, Padres, and Pirates), and there’s absolutely no way to restore purity. It’s analogous to the widespread corruption of the gambling era. When there’s that much blame to assign, heaping it on a few stars is unfair. Wipe the slate clean, but impose draconian, no-appeal punishment for new offenses. This is what solved the gambling problem, not the banning of a few players. (Well, that and higher salaries.)
3. But, you say, this won’t solve the problem entirely. There will be new drugs that elude new tests. Yes; in fact that’s probably already happening. But the problem right now is the legacy. If Roger Clemens walks free, he walks free as Roger Clemens. Punishment enough, I say. I’m ready to move on.