Reports throughout this week have suggested that Major League Baseball is closing in on a resolution in the Biogenesis case. Fans and teams alike wait for the inevitable, the suspension of players and the biggest, boldest move that the league has taken against banned substances in the history of professional sports. The hope is that, by dropping the hammer, MLB will be setting a precedent, thereby eliminating banned substances from the game. As we all hope for a resolution, PED use in baseball will leave unintended scars on the game forever:
From now on, whenever a player has a spectacular year seemingly out of nowhere- Jose Bautista a few years back, Chris Davis this year- he will be forced to deal with the rumor mill or questions about whether or not he is using banned substances. Every kid who loves the game- and chances are, every person reading this, and the person writing it grew up loving it, too- will be left to question how their favorite players fell so far from grace.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Alex Rodriguez was a superstar in Seattle who was destined to break the home run record and be the golden boy, one of the saviors of the game following a bitter strike and years of contention. It is incredible how the tides have turned.
Baseball, which is built around the numbers: the homers, the RBI, the hits, will forever be forced to question that which is the essence of the game. These entities are sacred in the game, more so than any other sport. Now, some of the owners of these are tainted, and instead of appreciating the awesomeness of the record, we are forced to debate the “real” owner of each outstanding accomplishment.
The players who had solid power numbers during the 90’s will always be defending themselves against allegations, regardless of any valid proof. You know them- the ones who were on the ballot and were conspicuously absent in the most bizarre Hall of Fame induction weekend held this past week due to suspicion and innuendo.
MLB has “won” the case, but will forever deal with the fact that its drug programs actually failed, and will deal with the consequences of a somewhat hollow victory. Let’s not get confused- MLB won due to Porter Fischer having a falling out with Tony Bosch, not that all 20 players failed a test. Even in the face of suspensions, the league will be forced to re-evaluate its testing successes.
Bud Selig has prided himself on baseball having labor peace since the infamous players’ strike in 1994 resulted in a lost World Series. However, should he choose to utilize his “best interests of the game” power to circumvent the appeals process via the drug treatment program, all of that could come to an end. He would effectively be throwing out all of the progress and cooperation of a union that is so supportive as to get behind the commission in the face of “overwhelming” evidence that a player is associated with PEDs.
Every player in a clubhouse that will be affected by a suspension will be forced to deal with the questions, the reporters, and after-effects of losing a player. In the case of Ryan Braun, the players left behind would have to pick up the slack of a coward who left others to explain his mistakes. For Alex Rodriguez, whatever remnants of his reputation, whatever sort of redemption was achieved by his massive contributions in 2009 are toast. For Braun, he has become a hyperbolic punch line for his steadfast denials 18 months ago that have turned out to be entirely disingenuous. For Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and the others who have made up the list, they are left with the stigma of always being a cheater.
Whatever the results, whenever the other shoe may fall, one way or other, this thing will ultimately end. We all pretty much know how this is going to end, and the dark cloud that still hangs over the game. It is Major League Baseball’s hope that this cloud will move on at the conclusion of the Biogenesis investigation, but it’s clear that it will hang around the game forever.