Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Old Ball Game

This is pretty sad, if you’re a baseball fan:

Major League Baseball 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, "Outside the Lines" has learned. If the suspensions are upheld, the performance-enhancing drug scandal would be the largest in American sports history.

Tony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America, reached an agreement this week to cooperate with MLB's investigation, two sources told "Outside the Lines," giving MLB the ammunition officials believe they need to suspend the players.

One source familiar with the case said the commissioner's office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players' connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.

Twenty players, including at least two league MVPs, one a probable Hall of Famer (sans performance enhancements).

I understand the need to cheat, particularly when the stakes are really high, and big money is a stake you can’t get much higher than. I can even understand that many of the cheaters involved started doping long before the issue was taken seriously at the major league level.

However, once it became clear that there was a new attitude in town, you have to ask yourself what kind of idiot would expose himself that way.

I suppose it was a matter of believing you could never be caught. Too, the clinic billed itself as an anti-aging clinic, a new code I suppose for less steroids, more biologic enhancements. You can rationalize cheating a million different ways.

But then there’s some ancillary issues that need to be addressed, and primarily, those involve the teams of these players: they get most of the benefit from these now-used up husks of humanity, but bear none of the responsibility or the consequences. It seems unfair for, say, Alex Rodriguez to be condemned and suspended – and likely stripped of any personal accomplishments in the time frame covered – but the New York Yankees get to keep their pennants and championships.

You want steroids out of sports? Hurt the teams. Hurt the sponsors of those teams. Athletes are interchangeable. They are cogs in a machine, albeit really well-paid and shiny cogs. They are, however, no different than the front office secretaries or the groundskeepers, and if any of them had been found to be breaking the law, they’d be summarily dismissed in order to minimize damage to the team.

Yes, players are under contract and the union will work hard to protect them, but a team that stands around and does nothing while it has to have some knowledge of what was going on ought to pay a price now.

Managers, both general and field, and owners may claim ignorance but as officers of an organization, that argument holds little water. After all, even the head of the IRS had to throw himself under the bus when that scandal broke, even if he had no personal knowledge of events beforehand. Punish the team, end the problem.