Major League Baseball may soon have a problem on its hands. If a new rumor turns out to be true, some of the game’s biggest stars will be suspended 50 games in the near future for performance-enhancing drug use. Those include Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez. That is certainly not a set of Major League B-Listers.
If these four are eventually suspended, it would make them the highest caliber players to be punished under the MLB’s PED system. Among the major leaguers suspended under that system are Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Ruiz, and Edinson Volquez. Yes, they were all-stars, but aside from Ramirez, who was at the tail end of his career when he was suspended, none was a multi-year superstar.
That would change if any or all of the four players rumored to be suspended actually are. Three of them are Yankees, which would surely hurt the team’s performance this season and reflect very poorly on the franchise. Braun, meanwhile, has already had a brush with PED problems and, as we previously mentioned, another, more conclusive positive test against him would severely hurt his legacy.
So, if you are asking yourself who is breaking the story, you are not alone. Joe Bisceglie isn’t exactly a household name for baseball news. He writes for a website that, in its own words, says “sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s provocative, and sometimes it’s just interesting, but it’s always entertaining”.
It readily admits it is not a generally highly-trafficked destination by stating, “chances are you found our silly little website because you a.) are already a friend or family member of one of our writers b.) found us by accident while looking for fap material on Google. or c.) you were randomly followed by our Twitter account and thought ‘I’ll give it a whirl.’”
This isn’t meant as an attack on Dog and Pony Show’s credibility. There are plenty of good, entertaining, and informative websites that aren’t necessarily known for breaking news from anonymous sources. Bisceglie, himself, even concedes there should be skepticism about his claim. He wrote a follow-up post today saying he wouldn’t believe himself unless “it got picked up by ESPN or Yahoo or some other reputable sports website”.
So then, why believe a guy who “writes editorial pieces meant to amuse other people like me” for a relatively non-descript website? Because he’s actually broken this type of story before. The same source who tipped him off about Cabrera’s impending PED suspension last year, more than a month before the punishment was handed out, is reportedly the very same person responsible for this information. Either this source got very lucky last year or is, indeed, in the know.
If this is eventually proven to be true, then MLB officials would, presumably, already know what’s coming. But that should leave them with a very uneasy feeling. They are holding a proverbial double-edged sword. On one hand, they have taken great pains over the last several years to try to rid the game of these drugs and suspending, not just one, but several, of the game’s biggest stars would make a serious statement about their intent to clean up the game.
At the same time, however, this would have a big impact on fans. It took a long time for baseball to recover from the strike that ruined the 1994 season. Many people believe that the home run chase with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 was really the moment that brought fans back to the game. Ironically, that was a chase fueled by steroids.
So what once helped bring the game back to prominence among American sports fans now has the potential to do the exact opposite. Baseball fans don’t want to be lied to anymore. We have heard countless times in recent years from numerous players some variation of “I’ve never taken illegal drugs”. In some cases, that has already been proven false. Those claims now stand to be tested again.
Rodriguez and Braun have already been implicated for PED use in the past, but this would be the first real charge against Cano and Granderson. If players of this caliber, who were previously believed to be clean, end up being outed as cheaters, it only lessens the credibility of players as a whole. With whom does it end? Seeds of doubt regarding the players’ integrity have already been planted with fans before this rumor was publicized. Those seeds will blossom if these suspensions do, in fact, get levied.
And what about young baseball fans? How many Little Leaguers have emulated their idols while in the batter’s box playing for a team sponsored by their local bakery? These children are the future of the game in every aspect and problems like this may have consequences in their lives on both a private and baseball-related level.
What are 11-year-olds supposed to think when they learn their favorite players are being called liars and frauds? It could make them skeptical of baseball and wonder why they play or watch the game when major leaguers are doing things their parents and coaches are teaching them not to do themselves. At the same time, these kids are at a very impressionable age and, if they learn they can eventually become multi-millionaires by getting some added help, there is the real risk that they will look up to the wrong role models.
Obviously, these are issues that MLB already faces because PEDs are not a new problem. But, if the only people who are ever punished are minor leaguers or lower-level major leaguers, league officials can say they’ve been able to put a stop to illegal drug use and that it doesn’t pay to cheat. That doesn’t quite hold up when the faces of the game start to go down.
It all creates a significant PR problem, but puts the league in a Catch-22. It would surely make the league look bad if some of its top players are suspended, but officials have repeatedly said they want to rid the games of PEDs. Suspending four players like Braun, Cano, Granderson, and Rodriguez, would, no doubt,make a statement. It may hurt the game in the short-term, but its long-range outlook would be better for it. So, in a matter of months, we may all witness a new chapter be written in baseball’s continuously-unfolding steroids story.