OK, the looming suspensions of approximately 20 players — including former MVPs Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez — for their involvement with Biogenesis, the alleged steroids boutique in South Florida, leaves us with several questions/observations about the entire steroid era (and that's not even broaching the topic that it figures that A-Rod of all people would get his illegal performance-enhancing drugs at a boutique for crying out loud).
Of the major sports in this country, baseball has suffered the most from the steroids nightmare.
Do we even care any more? The public's collective indifference, be it perceived or real, has to be based in the exhaustion of the never-ending stories and lies and denials. We have moved through the emotional stages of shock to anger to disbelief to disgust to disinterested.
Every player comes under scrutiny now, and in truth other than maybe Greg Maddux and Derek Jeter, is there a single star from the last 15 years that you would be totally surprised to hear used PEDs?
Do the players and leagues and teams and executives want to stop this? Do they really want to stop this? We're to a point that this question needs to be asked every time a PED story breaks. People inside the clubhouse have to know. Be it the back acne or the mood swings or the radical improvements or simply seeing them use PEDs, spending 162 games together behind closed doors and on the road, players know. They have to. Coaches know too, and even if they don't they have overwhelming suspicions. If baseball wants to stop this, then why are more clean players not outraged by cheaters taking money out of their pocket or jobs away from other guys doing it the right way.
At least pro cyclists have now started to police their own sport, no longer turning a blind eye to Lance and the rest of dopers, cheaters and liars. (Of course that means there are like three actual Tour de France champions in the last 20 years, so there's that.).
Why does baseball and cycling seem to be the only sports fighting these troubles? Baseball still wrestles restlessly with whispers and cold stares and lies. And what about football and basketball -- you can't believe for a second that there is not PEDs in those sports, but those leagues either do not care or have handled every incident so discreetly that it is hard to fathom.
Sure former San Diego star Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games during the 2006 season in which he was one of the dominant pass rushers in the game and finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. But if you believe only one guy is getting a chemical edge in the NFL, well, you can have our share of the Veterans Bridge.
So where are we as a sports culture? Do we even care about this any more? If Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens went away for good would we miss either one? Will they ever be in the Hall of Fame, even though we all know they had Hall of Fame careers.
Do we assume every baseball player from 1998-2006 used some sort of performance enhancer? What is the next step for the leagues, do they become tougher or more detached?
Is this a fight they can win? And is it a fight they are even interested in pursuing?
Until baseball -- and that's all of baseball, the players, coaches, executives, et al. -- decides to truly care, then it's hard to believe it will ever end.
If you want it to stop, fail once, you're done 100 games. Fail twice it's a season, and a third strike and you're out forever. You can debate the first failed test, but anything after that, there is a no-questions-asked approach. Worried about a nasal spray, have it checked out. Worried about deer antler o roach leg or elephant tusk spray, have it checked out. These are world-class athletes, 90 percent of whom know exactly what's going into their bodies at every meal.
The, "wow, had no idea that was in that special potion from the PED boutique -- hi A-Rod -- so sorry," excuse no longer carries weight.
If baseball is only going to pay lip service to the PED epidemic, then how are we supposed to take either the sport or the problem seriously.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...