Home runs in baseball are back to pre-steroid era levels. Pitchers rule again. There’s a chance that MLB won’t even have a 40-homer hitter. That hasn’t happened since 1982 when Reggie Jackson (California Angles) and Gorman Thomas (Milwaukee Brewers) led MLB with 39 homers. Dudes aren’t jacking video game numbers, but fans haven’t abandoned the game. Baseball is still making money hand over fist and in some stadiums attendance records are being broken.
Stolen bases are up, as cats like Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton are making players with the throwback speed and skills of a Vince Coleman or Willie Wilson relevant again. To top it off, the trade deadline was banoodles as the Oakland A’s traded scraper Yoenis Cespedes to Boston to rent ace lefty Jon Lester for a World Series run. Then an 11th-hour trade kept fans glued to the baseball networks as prized Rays lefty David “Mr. Whiff” Price was traded to the Tigers for basically a box of donuts, setting the stage for a pitching-rich playoffs.
With all of that taken into account one would think that everything was back to normal. After all, Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be the final superstar that baseball was going to run through the ringer, witch hunt and disgrace, before it put this obsessive PED Era to bed.
For MLB which once turned a blind eye to obvious PED use and profited mightily off the historic exploits of superstars knowingly using the juice, the game has changed to exterminating anyone involved with the use, creation or distribution of PED’s. Bud Selig’s last hoorah as Commissioner has become a never-ending, nauseating nightmare for baseball that just won’t go away.
A year ago Selig's disciplinary office handed down more than a dozen suspensions in the Biogenesis scandal. We hoped the wound was permanently closed. However, on Tuesday, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted an early-morning roundup that led to charges against the former clinic's founder, Anthony Bosch, and his cronies.
At a news conference early Tuesday afternoon, DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville said that Bosch was one of 10 people arrested as part of a two-year Operation Strikeout investigation.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said that seven arrests were related to Biogenesis, and three were arrested as part of a separate indictment regarding the party drug Molly.
If convicted, Bosch faces up to a maximum 10 years in prison.
If you’re a pure baseball fan news of Bosch’s arrest is music to your ears because it’s looking like the kingpin supplier of the hottest drug to scorch the MLB streets—a drug that had once proud mashers strung out—is looking at some hard fed time in the future.
Is this the final nail in the coffin? Can we finally focus on actual baseball now?
The bombshell was not Bosch’s operation getting mashed on. According to ESPN, multiple law enforcement officials told "Outside the Lines" that the names of several professional baseball players not previously identified came up in the investigation. The names have not been released, but the sources said the names likely will be in discovery filings and eventually be released to the public.
Baseball could be diving back into some tumultuous and treacherous waters. Following the release of the Mitchell Commission report (a waste of government resources that did nothing but stain an entire MLB era) in 2007, baseball’s brightest stars were put on display like show ponies and forced to deny something they obviously did to a bunch of grandstanding Senate Committee members.
Sources told "Outside the Lines" that MLB players and other pro athletes are not the focus of the federal investigation; rather, authorities focused solely on potential illegal activities involving Bosch and other associates. However, let’s not be naïve enough to think that they give a damn about collateral damage which will, of course, impact the players more than anyone else.
As soon as those names can be released they will go to the highest bidder. If I’m Alex Rodriguez or his cousin Yuri Sucart, who’s notorious for being A Rod’s PED-injector and was also arrested as part of the sting and listed as “one of Bosch’s recruiters,” I’m really hyped about the other names that may drop.
We all know there are other VIP names who escaped the wrath and public scrutiny of the Mitchell report – particularly former Red Sox players linked to PED's.
We all have our solid suspicions and educated hunches about which superstars were juicing their way to mega contracts and records. Bonds and Clemens have still never admitted to it, but we know what it is.
Will Adrian Beltre be on it? Maybe Robinson Cano or Big Papi? Pedro Martinez maybe?
With just a few all-world players having to carry the burden of being the face of disgrace, it would only be fair to see a more accurate list of players who really did juice. We know it was an epidemic, regardless of how baseball tries to paint this picture that “only a few” players did it. There are players still getting suspended every day in the minor leagues and MLB for PED use. We know the problem isn’t totally extinct because medicine will always be a step ahead of law enforcement, disciplinary initiatives and the moral curve.
But if more potential Hall of Famers and perennial All-Stars get implicated, it opens up a whole other can of worms about who is worthy of Hall of Fame recognition and how we now view this player’s legacy being that he’s a known PED user.
Radio stations, internet and TV will have meaningless fodder to rant about and can fill their hours of programming by tearing down old heroes and feeding into the Selig-instigated concept that these players are rogue, outcast members of a morally-defunct and statistically-hollow era.
Who’s really winning here?
I guess baseball is trying to burn the candle on both ends. Its marketing people and executive minds are so profound and their TV deals are so disgustingly lucrative that they can still thrive while gutting their own insides (so they think).
And as repulsive as some people find baseball’s continuous attack on its own legends, the fans want to know who the culprits are as much as anyone else. Sure, some of us can justify PED use by equating baseball to survival and saying the players did what they had to do to make money. That philosophy accepts the reality that being considered a cheat and possibly never being able to get a golden head shot in Cooperstown is just part of the deal. Deep down, however, every time one of our sports idols gets burned at the stakes and exposed as a fraud to some degree, we start to blame the players more.
On the flip side, we celebrate managers with Hall of Fame credentials, who oversaw teams with rampant illegal PED use. Managers who are credited with having an iron clad, omniscient handle on their clubs. Managers credited with mastering the idiosyncrasies and intricacies of leading, building relationships and motivating young, rich athletes.
It’s still very hard to believe that a Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa or Bobby Cox had no clue what was going on in their locker rooms. To this day, LaRussa denies he had any knowledge or suspicion McGwire was juicing when he smashed Roger Maris’ homerun record. Just when you thought it was safe, baseball is about to punch itself in the face again and make its black eye bigger. Get your popcorn ready.