MLB Just As Culpable For Steroid Era

By Jason Keidel
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With all the posturing over Melky Cabrera, the latest high-profile victim of PED testing, a chance to close the gap between right and wrong could go the way of the cream and the clear.

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MLB is preening over Cabrera’s vocational carcass, assuring us that the bad guys just took a major hit to the heart of their operation. But Victor Conte thinks otherwise. And the two sides, rather than heave barbs across the bow, should sit in a luxury suite and work together.

Yes, I’m saying MLB should hire Victor Conte as an advisor on all things doping.

Instead, each party is standing on their warped prerogatives as the experts and the affronted. Whenever you have bulging egos buttressed like this, the resulting friction rubs the fan the wrong way. As always, the blue-collar stiff who pays all their salaries is the one who gets hurt, not the perpetrators of the two-decade farce we now call the “Steroid Era.”

Rather than applauding the mechanism that caught Cabrera, Conte says that up to 50 percent of players are still using PEDs. MLB, as always, has spurned another admitted cheater, asserting that Conte is just guessing. Who do you believe?

MLB needs a Governing Dynamics moment, an epiphany of John Nash contours. If you recall the sublime movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” Nash (played by Russell Crowe) sat in a bar with his fellow savants while they pondered Adam Smith’s economic maxim: In competition, individual ambition serves the common good.

To which Nash said Smith was incomplete, that the best result comes from people doing what’s best for themselves and the group. So it is with baseball, which should hire Conte as turncoat.

The idea of law enforcement, from the feds to your local, tattered police precinct, turning a criminal into an informant is embedded into our history. And it works.

As far as rats go, they can be quite productive. Jose Canseco said 80 percent of players were juicing. MLB denounced him as a jilted renegade who would say anything to sell books. Yet Canseco was right.

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And MLB is just as culpable as Canseco or Conte, if not more so. It’s easy to dismiss the chemists who provided the very potions that imperiled baseball, and the miscreants who use them. But what about an entire apparatus that knew players were cheating and did nothing about it?

We expect Conte and his brethren to walk south of the law. What’s MLB’s excuse? In fact, baseball did more than ignore the steroid saga; they profited from it. Yet you don’t see owners in orange jumpsuits, or handing refunds to fans who thought the Summer of Sammy was an authentic drama performed by noblemen.

Conte can provide insight heretofore unearthed by peripheral experts and doping consultants. According to an article in USA Today, Conte says that there’s a testing loophole that cheaters can “drive a Mack truck through,” using a synthetic testosterone that keeps a user’s testosterone to epitestosterone levels below the 4-to-1 ratio that triggers a positive result.

Regarding the test that Melky Cabrera failed, Conte barked the following on Twitter: “The T/E test is easy to beat. Only the dumb and dumber get caught.” Depending on your view, it speaks to Cabrera’s testosterone, temerity, or intelligence. Either way, it’s enlightening to see the Godfather of BALCO so brazen on the matter. Why assume he’s lying when you can pay him for the truth?

History is littered with shady informants. Frank Lucas eviscerated Harlem with a brand of heroin that was twice as pure as the local fare and half the price. When he got busted he brought down criminal empires and dozens of crooked cops on his payroll. How about Sammy “The Bull” Gravano? The list is as long as their rap sheets.

Don’t be too proud to admit you’re wrong. Such a faulty coda is what got us here in the first place. Besides, MLB and Conte should feel quite comfy in the same room. They are the ones who got us here.

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