Every time I hear news about the steroid scandal's impact on the game of Major League Baseball I cringe. I don't know why, but even after all of the revelations I still find it shocking. Call me a purist. The latest news involves Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun who was suspended for the remainder of this season for his violation of the league's drug policy. This action clearly demonstrates that the league is not going to turn the other cheek, and is getting serious about cracking down on the steroid issue that has plagued the game for the past decade or so.
Allegedly, from what's being reported, Braun cut a deal with the league to attempt to preserve his career. According to USA Today, the suspension will reportedly cost him about $3.85 million dollars in income this season. The suspension will be for 65 games. Baseball wanted more than 50 games for his 'first-time' violation of their drug policy because his actions went beyond simple abuse. It appears the league wasn't too pleased with Braun's conduct amidst the scandal. Braun had initially stated that the league's drug collector was out to get him.
After hearing, and reading, all of this news, I wonder what the ripple effect of Braun's actions will be. How have his performance-enhanced-accomplishments tainted the game? How many games have been impacted by his swing of the bat? Should he have been the National League Rookie of the Year in 2007? Should he have been the NL Most Valuable Player in 2011?
Many people believe that Braun should be punished for throwing the drug collector under the bus. They say that his lies raise questions about his character. They also say that his future as a professional ball player should be in question. These are probably valid points worthy of being explored and examined further.
As for those people who love the game this has got to be a dark day. I know that this isn't a new issue, but it's still a developing story. For me personally, I have had a love of the game since my father took me to see my first ballgame at Fenway Park when I was a young boy. My passion for it led me to attempt to pursue a career in the sport. I pitched a no-hitter in high school, played college ball and was fortunate enough to be scouted by the Major Leagues. But, never during my time playing the game did I ever think that steroids were a part of it. In fact, I thought PEDs were just used by weight lifters and some football players. So I was blindsided when I first learned of the drug's use in the sport was of epidemic proportions.
On a side note, I ponder the fate of the players who were passed over in the minors, or even at the high school level, in favor of the sexy ballplayer who looked like a freak and was juicing. I saw many great players who never made it to the show. Might they have made it to the majors if the playing field was level? Did they end up like Crash Davis in Bull Durham because they weren't juicing? If that's the case, then this issue is even more tragic than we ever imagined.
In January it was reported by the Miami New Times that the league's marquee player Alex Rodriguez was linked to the Biogenesis Clinic. Then in April the New York Times published a story that A-Rod had purchased documents from Biogenesis. Two months later, the league announced that it would be investigating the matter and suspending players linked to the clinic and guilty of taking PEDs. Baseball has significant evidence in the Biogenesis scandal against numerous players.
The baseball purists will say that this has been a long time coming. They will say that the day of reckoning has come for the abusers. So, getting back to my original question; is all of this good for the game of baseball? Only time will tell if the game can recover to rise above this devastating scar on its landscape. As Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- the American game."
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