MLB roundup: Union should poll players about having tougher PED penalties

David Price recently spoke with ESPN's Scott Lauber about PED tests and more. Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

David Price has joined the large group of prominent players to speak of the idea of making tougher penalties for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, in this interview with Scott Lauber. From the piece (in Price's words):

I love Dee Gordon. I know him personally. He's a great kid. Made a bad decision. But I think that kind of opens the eyes to not just looking at the guy that's hitting 40 homers. You're not just looking at the guy that's 6-2, 250 and just shredded out of his mind. It'll help anybody. When I heard that, I was like, 'Wow, this completely changes the way that I looked at PEDs.' I guess I was stereotypical with it. I would've never thought Dee Gordon. He's not the home run guy. He's hitting the ball all over the field and running wild, stuff like that. I think that opened the eyes to a new realm of PEDs. …

See, I could never do it because I don't want to disappoint my family. Period. I wouldn't want that bad publicity. Not just for myself. If I get it, so what? That's a part of it. That's the nature of the game. But I don't want that to leak to my mom and to my dad and to my nephew. That would crush me. I could never do anything like that. But there's some guys that might not be very close with their family or they're on the fringe of being a big leaguer or they're tired of being an average or below-average guy and they say, 'I can do this. Ball out for a year. If I get popped, serve my 50 games, continue to work the way I have when I'm on them. And I'm going to make these strides, and I'm not going to get weaker. I'm going to be stronger than I was, serve 50 games, make some money,' and they're OK with that. I understand that. I get it. They have one chance. That's what it is.

If you get popped, you can't play baseball anymore. Period. I think that could be the only thing they would do that would scare guys away from it.

Justin Verlander and many others have spoken out publicly about increasing penalties, about taking the next steps to reducing the incentive to cheat. And remember, players like Verlander, Price, Max Scherzer and others are putting their money where their mouths are, because theoretically, they're as much at risk for the worst-case scenario -- the inadvertent, somebody-slips-something-into-your-dinner positive test -- as anybody else, and perhaps more so, because they are better known. The feedback you hear publicly and privately from players when a player is nailed for PEDs is that they have little patience for the excuses, because they endure the drug testing as well, and have to monitor what they ingest; they mostly don't buy the idea of accidental steroid use.

It's important for the union leadership to understand and reflect how strong this sentiment is in the choices it makes in the months ahead, through collective bargaining, and there is an idea available to them that would've been worthwhile in the late '90s: The union should formally poll the players on what they want.