A: The penalty for a first positive test for steroids under the Joint Drug Agreement is a 50-game suspension, and that appears to be the likely discipline for several players MLB has targeted. This is the last week a player could accept a 50-game suspension and serve it in time to return either for the postseason, if his team advances, or the start of the 2014 season.
Q: How likely is a lifetime ban for Rodriguez?
A: If Rodriguez agrees to accept a suspension and doesn’t ask the players’ association to file a grievance challenging the penalty, the suspension likely would be for a year or two. If MLB announces a penalty unilaterally, if could be a lifetime ban, but an arbitrator could reduce it after a hearing. When Commissioner Fay Vincent suspended Yankees pitcher Steve Howe for life in 1992, after his seventh suspension for drugs or alcohol, arbitrator George Nicolau reduced the penalty to 119 days.
Q: Any other lifetime bans in baseball?
A: The most famous occurred in 1921, when Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Chicago White Sox pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, first baseman Chick Gandil, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg, third baseman Buck Weaver, outfielders “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Happy Felsh and infielder Fred McMullen for throwing the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati. Landis acted a day after they were acquitted on criminal charges.
Philadelphia Phillies infielder Gene Paulette (1921), New York Giants pitcher “Shufflin”’ Phil Douglas (1922), New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell and coach Cozy Dolan (1924) and Philadelphia Phillies president William D. Cox (1943) were banned either for life or indefinitely over gambling or bribery issues, and New York Giants outfielder Benny Kauff (1921) was suspended indefinitely by Landis following his indictment on charges of auto theft and possession of a stolen car. Cincinnati manager Pete Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 following an investigation of his gambling. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner agreed to a lifetime ban effective in August 1990 for his dealings with self-described gambler Howard Spira and was reinstated in March 1993.