The biggest story in baseball right now is sadly not about anything that is happening on the field.
At first glance, it would appear encouraging that MLB has come to an arrangement with Tony Bosch, founder of Biogenesis Clinic in Miami, to testify against as many as 20 players caught up in a performance-enhancing drug scandal. Finally, one of the key players with firsthand knowledge of PED use is going to come forward, the truth will be heard, and justice will be meted out.
Perhaps that is the case. Two huge stars are caught up in this particular round of questioning: Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. Rodriguez, who has spent his entire 2013 season on the disabled list, previously admitted to steroid use, claiming he used between 2001 and 2003 due to “tremendous pressure to perform”.
Braun, the former National League MVP, actually failed a PED test but was able to avoid suspension due to mishandling of his sample.
Therein, of course, lies the conundrum. Rodriguez gave his mea culpa, his public admission of baseball sin, stating that he was young and stupid and that all his years as a Yankee have been clean. Braun actually fought the league and won, the first player in a PED case to do so.
We ate it up. In Rodriguez’s case, we had our pound of flesh with his admission of guilt. He’s jeered to this day in stadiums across the country. Braun was looked at as a victim of baseball’s pursuit of any drug cheat at the cost of its own policies and processes. Maybe the drama was coming to an end. Both still ardently deny any connection to Biogenesis, and should be allowed to be “innocent until proven guilty”.
Of course we, the baseball-loving public, are left to wonder still – do we actually know the truth? These baseball stars had every reason to lie to the league and to us. The mega-contracts that are handed out to the game’s top performers can set up their families for life. And what about the people who allegedly ran these PED rings? Don’t the Victor Contes and Tony Bosches of the world have just as much to lose?
It’s important to remember here that Bosch is apparently going to work with MLB investigators in return for a sweet indemnity agreement in which the league drops their suit against him. The documents have been out for months, so the only thing Bosch can do is corroborate and validate them.
If that is what happens, he’s not doing it because it’s right, he’s doing it to try to save himself from his own costly lawsuit and avoid potential jail time. The league will even put a good word in with federal investigators if they try to prosecute Bosch themselves. There are going to be new developments here for weeks, but that’s where we start.
Baseball is still looked upon with reverence as our national pastime. Striving for a PED-free game is a noble effort. At this point, though, we have to wonder if we’ll ever see a day when sports are truly “clean”. With the extents that players and providers have been willing to go to hide their use, I don’t know that we will. As long as there are rules, there will be people willing to break them.