By Joe Giglio
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For die-hard baseball fans, this should have been a great week.
Biogenesis, PEDs and possible suspensions filtered through the news cycle more than the phenom that is Yasiel Puig in Los Angeles, Stephen Strasburg’s latest injury or the MLB Draft. It looks like the sport is nearing possible suspensions for cheaters.
Yet, it’s becoming harder and harder to justify the means that Major League Baseball uses to catch the cheaters, give a face to the crime and deliver fans the bad guys in a sport that we’re now supposed to believe is clean.
Dating back to the landscape of the game from the final moments of the 1994 strike, it’s truly hard to dissect the motives of Commissioner Bud Selig.
If the sport was truly concerned about drug abuse, rather than image, attendance and public perception, it’s likely that the Steroid Era would have been stopped in its tracks, long before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had a chance to captivate a nation and send millions through the turnstiles during the summer of ‘98.
As the years moved on — from Barry Bonds’ pursuit of Hank Aaron to the strange day when baseball players testified before Congress to the Mitchell Report to Roger Clemens’ long, arduous legal battles to the Biogenesis fallout — there never has been a central theme to baseball’s purpose for ridding the sport of performance-enhancing drugs other than public perception.
The sport is always two steps behind, from testing to appeals to finding out where the quacks like Anthony Bosch are before it’s too late.
You may look at the impending suspensions, or, to be more accurate, baseball’s attempt to suspend A-Rod, Braun and friends, as a success. But in reality, it’s the result of America’s pastime buying the word and services of a very, very seedy character in Tony Bosch.
In my opinion, the whole cops-and-robbers charade that has been taking place since baseball first put in survey testing in 2003 — of course, we were never supposed to find out the results — to jumping into bed with a broke, failed doctor facing his only myriad of legal issues down the road has never, ever felt genuine.
Baseball comes off reactive, allowing public perception, greed and grudges, especially in the case of Ryan Braun’s successful appeal, to cloud its decision-making process.
Commissioner Selig’s tenure as the head of baseball is set to expire soon, leaving the game a more successful, global and interesting sport than when he inherited it over two decades ago, but the specter of the Steroid Era will always hang over his reign.
Most fans probably don’t care about the motives in the league offices, as long as their favorite players aren’t juicing up behind the scenes and in the locker room.
But it’s difficult to justify taking the commissioner’s office seriously when there was ample evidence to stomp the cheaters in the 90s, yet instead baseball reaped the benefits of attendance and interest until the veil was lifted, hitting a tipping point.
As the sport presents the bad guys to you via suspensions or mug shots over the next few months, don’t forget the supervisors who oversaw the actions in the past and did nothing until it was too late.
Baseball is fighting now, but its motives and methods are almost as seedy as the cheaters they’re trying to catch.
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