Nothing’s Ever As Simple As It Seems When It Comes to PED Suspensions

When I was a kid, I attended the 1996 All-Star Game in Philadelphia with my father. Just take a look at those rosters, won’t you? It’s like the entire steroid era come to life, with Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte and Mark McGwire and Ken Caminiti and probably 18 other guys all juiced up. That total may or may not include Mike Piazza, who had a double and a homer while winning the MVP and making 14-year-old me’s year. That game remains one of my fondest memories — I’m pretty sure I still have the giant Liberty Bell shaped ticket stub somewhere — and the fact that time has revealed that most of those guys were on something a bit more powerful than Flintstones vitamins hasn’t changed that one bit for me.

That’s why it really kills me when I see sanctimonious garbage like this:

Really, Jon? You probably couldn’t attend a baseball game between the years 1992-2004 without seeing at least one guy who was on something special; do you think that all the fathers and sons (and yes, mothers and daughters) who attended those games over the years regret their experiences? Do you think that all the people who went out and watched the Brewers last night deserved to have your pity for any other reason than that their team lost to San Diego? Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that baseball was ever entirely clean at any point in the last 80 years, when for decades — even pre-”steroids” as we know them now — clubhouses had coffee pots labeled “leaded” and “unleaded”?

It’s this kind of moralizing that kills me, because the level of hypocrisy here is just over the moon, and perhaps I’m just focusing on certain members of the media who inexplicably consider themselves the victims more than anyone else.

For examples of that hypocrisy, let’s let Twitter briefly tell the story:

Incredibly sad, yet 100% accurate, and you can add any number of other offenses to that, like domestic violence. Right, Brett Myers? Or Josh Lueke? Or Francisco Rodriguez? Taking something that may or may not aid your performance: BURN HIM! Imperil the lives of others by driving home loaded: nah, it’s cool.

Absolutely true. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller got busted yesterday too — as an All-Pro and former #2 overall pick, he’s hardly a nameless scrub — yet the reaction to that is phenomenally different.

That probably gets me the most of all. I was at CitiField on Sunday afternoon when Marlon Byrd absolutely destroyed a Cliff Lee pitch well into the second deck in left field. That got him a wide round of cheers; I bet the majority of fans didn’t even know he’d missed 50 games last year for a bust of his own. Pettitte, for example, continues to be a fan favorite in the Bronx, and absolutely no one can explain just how it is that Bartolo Colon keeps on being so successful. Yet lord help you if you’re Alex Rodriguez, seemingly mostly because he’s a socially weird jerk who signed a contract that everyone knew was foolish from the team’s point of view form the second it happened.

For the record, I’m not at all defending Ryan Braun here. Though you will never, ever, convince me that the greatness a former #5 overall pick has shown since day one in the bigs is entirely due to any sort of extracurricular chemical — sorry, Curt Schilling, this is just wrong — his union agreed to collectively-bargained rules, and he has apparently broken them. If so, he deserves the punishment he gets, and he deserves the scorn that he’s receiving due to what appears to be something like two years of outright lies.

(Well, most of it, anyway; the charges that he “ruined the life” of the inspector who collected his tainted sample last year seem blown well out of proportion, because while you can argue that Braun got off “on a technicality”, the simple fact is that loophole wouldn’t have been there if the inspector had simply done his job properly in the first place. Also, the idea that he needs to “apologize to Arizona” for Milwaukee beating the Diamondbacks in the 2011 playoffs seems ludicrous to me, because A) baseball is a team sport, and Prince Fielder & Yovani Gallardo had just a bit to do with it, B) nothing Braun did caused guys like Gerardo Parra & Justin Upton to go 5-for-38, and C), most importantly, it acts like we’re suddenly sure that the Diamondbacks roster was 100% clean at the time.)

But the real problem I have here is with the outright joy that the Braun news appears to have generated from so many. They’re ignorant of just how unbelievably shady MLB’s investigation into this mess has been, paying for testimony, leaking supposedly-confidential information, relying on hand-written notes from an unreliable character, and using testimony from minor-leaguers – who are not protected by the union and have little recourse otherwise — to make their case.

Worst of all, they’re seemingly gleeful that a cheater got what was coming to him without any sense of irony at all that when the next set of names come out in this Biogenesis mess, players from their favorite team could be implicated as well. I mean, seriously, would anything surprise you at this point? I have no inside knowledge of any Dodger being involved and I pray they’re not, but look at the roster here. There’s bench players at the tail end of their careers, just trying to hang on; there’s superstars who just cannot seem to stay healthy; there’s players performing well above what you’d expect; there’s players with roots in Miami; there’s players attempting to live up to enormous contracts. In Triple-A, there’s guys who have had tastes of the bigs but can’t seem to make a career stick. You could probably say the same for most any team, really.

When the full list of busts comes out, it’s not just going to be Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz and the names we know. There’s going to be surprises, big ones, and we’ve been down that road before. It’s not fun. Again, I have no specific knowledge of any impending Dodger issues here, and I hope we never have to worry about such things — lord, how pissed off would Skip Schumaker be? —  just know that this looms.

Really, there’s no winners here. Braun’s reputation is shot — no sympathy for him, of course, because he’s made this bed — and the Brewers have to deal with the repercussions of having so much money still tied up in him. Major League Baseball might think they look good for “getting tough,” but they still have an MVP who has admitted cheating — and no, Matt Kemp should not retroactively get that 2011 award — they’ve pursued this whole thing in some incredibly underhanded ways, and if anything, they’ve proven that the game isn’t clean after all those years of testing. The media, most of it, looks terrible for acting so joyful when so many of them simply ignored this problem in the 1990s, and especially for continuing to push the unproven myth that “steroids make you a Hall of Famer!” It’s in large part why we’re going to have a mostly-ignored Hall of Fame ceremony this weekend because unproven accusations and suspicions meant that the writers couldn’t agree on a single player, when there’s at least ten deserving inductees.

It’s really a terrible day for baseball all around, and it’s taking over the news in a time when we should be talking about the Dodgers finally reaching first place or the reports that they may not have interest in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or the Rangers trading for Matt Garza or the impending trade deadline. Unfortunately, there’s almost certainly going to be more than a few like it.

185 comments
P_F_P
P_F_P

Braun should give back the 2011 MVP award with a note reading, "All right, so when can we expect the Red Sox to give back their 2004 and 2007 World Series trophies, the Yankees to give back their 2009 World Series trophy, the Giants to give back their 2002 NL pennant trophy and 2012 World Series trophy, the Dodgers to give back their 2008 and 2009 NL West division championship trophies, the" and the note would keep going on and on like that until everybody who still cared was dead of old age.

Jobu
Jobu

Braun should be stripped of his 2011 NL MVP and it should be given to Kemp period. 

Master of My Domain
Master of My Domain

Very well put! This media gloating and heart wrenching sympathy for the masses smacks of trying to deflect all attenrion away from a commissioner( and themselves ) who tacitly endorsed the home run derby baseball that brought fans back after the work stoppage. Hell, Selig was the biggest cheerleader for bringing McGwire back into the loving arms of mlb!! Hypocritical slimeball.

shaneous
shaneous

It makes it seem like we shouldn't care if these guys do roids or not.  I think we should.

Lobo
Lobo

Anyone have any idea where we could look up Guererro's Cuban League stats?

PagansOedipalComplex
PagansOedipalComplex

According to Ben Badler scouts don't know whether MAG is a starter or a reliever. I'm glad we stayed away

efb
efb

That video his awesome! He does like a "no look" turning two 

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

Guess this kinda means the Utley pipe dream if PROBABLY over... though I suppose a rental is still possible.

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

@rbaly79

43s

Alexander Guerrero to be sent to Double-A or Tripe-A. He's going to start at 2nd base.

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

No chicken alfredo. I guess he isn't worth the money. I trust our international scouting department.

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

How long until Avelino Gonzalez sues Alexander Guerrero for $15M?

efb
efb

Is Mike hard at work to put out a second article all before before noon?!

Lobo
Lobo

Chad updated his article to report that the deal is reportedly over 7 years.  So that's less than 5 million a year.  Nicely done boys

SummerSaint
SummerSaint

Are there a lot more Cubans coming over now than there were before, or is it just that the Dodgers are suddenly going after them so we're (well, I'm) just now paying attention?

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

@efb lots of homeruns to left, a few line drives to right, I hope he can hit.

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@Lobo"Still looking for rock bottom? You know they play 162 games next year, too, right? Ha ha ha, this could go on for years." -- lol, have to hand it to that guy, he's a funny writer.

efb
efb

@BATBOB YES! there's the 2B we've been missing

He sure can field too!

efb
efb

I just enjoy his writing so much that I cant get enough. I appreciate all he writes. Dont judge

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@efb This one probably took a while to make, was a nice long post with good thoughts/details/supporting arguments, yet us readers here at MSTI are already hungry for more!  lol

PagansOedipalComplex
PagansOedipalComplex

@Lobo The report said that he has the talent to be an MLB starter, 7 years and 32 million for a potential fix at 2b/SS is worth taking that risk

Lobo
Lobo

@BATBOB He seems to be really slick with the glove and looks like he's got a nice smooth swing.  Me likey

Dang88
Dang88

@BATBOB Bob you are married you cannot make statements like that anymore 

Lobo
Lobo

@BATBOB @Lobo Damn, based on the TSL's in Chad's article it looks like he has a decent to good walk rate, was hoping I could confirm that