The PEDs have hit the fan again in Major League Baseball. According to a report last night from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Commissioner Bud Selig will “seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks.”
The rest of the list features some other familiar names (Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta), a few promising prospects (Jesus Montero and Caesar Puello), a couple randoms (Yasmani Grandal and Fernando Martinez) and a chunk of players who couldn’t be identified by OTL because they were only listed under code names.
Rumors persist that the names behind those codes could be even bigger than A-Rod and Braun, which is a scary concept. But even if those two are the biggest fish to be caught here, the MLB, its players and fans are heading down a familiar road.
As a baseball fan in 2013, I’ve long since made peace with the existence of PEDs. I’ve been beaten down and jaded by years of evidence and logical speculation. I’ve conceded that technology will always stay ahead of the testing, and that the potential rewards of “cheating” will always be worth the risk for certain players. I’ve also grown to expand my definition of “certain players.”
There was a time when I used to keep a personal list of guys who I KNEW never juiced. A small group of players who’d really surprise me with a positive test. Ken Griffey Jr. was on that list. Same goes for Jeter, Pedro and few others. But today, that list doesn’t exist. It wouldn’t shock me to learn that anyone from that era used at one point or another.
There was also a brief period during last year’s dual breakout by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper when I’d talk about how great it was to see this new generation of baseball superstars. Guys who were still in elementary school during the days of McGwire and Sosa, who came up clean and would carry baseball to greater heights. Today, I realize I was just being naïve. In a way, that speaks to the power how awesome Trout and Harper were/are. They made older fans feel like kids again. They took us back to a time when athletes were heroes and perfect human beings, incapable of doing wrong. As opposed to regular people, just as flawed and screwed up as the rest of us.
The truth is that baseball is a dirty game. We all know it. Football’s dirty, too. And basketball, and hockey, and soccer, and golf and tennis and the Olympics. It’s all dirty. Sports are dirty. Not entirely, but there’s always dirt to be found. At this point, if a fan is shocked or outraged at the idea of any athlete testing positive for PEDs, that outrage should be directed at the mirror. This is reality. This is what we sign up for. You don’t think it’s just a matter of time before a big time NFL superstar gets smacked with a suspension? Or the NBA has a major PED controversy of its own? It’s all happening. No one is innocent in this. As a fan, it’s just a matter of how much you really care.
And I do care. I want everyone to be clean, and for the games to be pure. I’d also like for there to be no more racism or prejudice or war. I’d also like to live forever. But there are unfortunate aspects of life that are always going to be there. All we can do is accept that reality, hope it gets better and do our personal best to move that progress along.
In the meantime, Bud Selig looks ready to lay down the hammer on this Biogenesis case. Reports say that the league is looking to drop 100-game suspensions on A-Rod and Braun. That’s an unprecedented move based on the fact that all their information is coming from this guy.
In fact, it’s so unprecedented that it will almost certainly fail. Between the the CBA, the strength of the players union and the absence of positive tests, there’s a better chance that we see Selig streak the field at All-Star Weekend than we see Braun and A-Rod serve 100-game suspensions anytime soon.
That being said, in the long term, I’m on board with Selig’s stance. He might be 15 years late to the party, but I think longer, stronger, angrier and more drastic suspensions are the only way to really curb the epidemic.
Players need to here the message from the league: Listen, we know some of you guys are using PEDs. We know we can’t catch all of you. But if we do, it won’t be pretty.
Do you know how much money A-Rod will lose if he’s suspended for 100 games? $14 million. Even for him, that’s a big time financial hit. And if 10, 20, 50, 100 or a couple thousands players (now and in the future) see that and think twice about what they’re getting themselves into, then the situation, will be better than it was before. And right now, that’s baseball’s most realistic goal.