I am so pissed. Baseball has yet another performance enhancing drug scandal to deal with, and I cannot believe I have to trot out my just-say-no speech one more time. Actually, I can, which pisses me off even more.
You couldn’t have missed it because you were mesmerized by Super Bowl media day, certainly, but if you were busy with more pleasant things, the Miami New Times, a part of Voice Media Group (as in the Village Voice, LA Weekly and nine other papers) published a story Tuesday about a sleazy Miami anti-aging clinic, PEDs and a number of famous athletes.
The “director” of the clinic, known as Biogenesis, was a guy named Tony Bosch; his most prominent client slash patient being Alex Rodriguez, of the always clean New York Yankees (and yes, that is sarcasm.) In some 5400 words Tim Elfrink details Bosch’s career as a non-doctor, the trail of unhappy and unpaid associates and employees, and ala the Balco scandal which ensnared Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, etc., log books listing the various substances sold to baseball players.
The other current major leaguers – well, current as of this very day, anyway – exposed in the report are previously-PED-busted as a San Francisco Giant and now Toronto Blue Jay Melky Cabrera, previously-PED-busted Bartolo Colon, of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz, Washington Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez and previously-PED-busted Yasmani Grandal, of the San Diego Padres (see updated Steroid Zone).
Whether all hell breaks loose over this, leading to suspension, vehement defense, arrests, prosecution, and an actual fix to the drug problem in the game remains to be seen, this much is sure. One, the story is going to cast a pall over Spring Training, and we’re going to be talking about it for a lot longer than we’d care to be.
Two, another cleat is sure to drop, and God help us if a local player is involved.
Three, the Yankees can moralize all they like; not a baseball savvy (wo)man among us doubts for one second that if A-Rod were a younger, healthier and considerably better ballplayer than he is now, we’re not hearing a peep of complaint out of the Bronx about the voiding of his contract.
Four, Major League Baseball will say emphatically that the drug testing program it has in place today is, if not a rousing success, working, and will point to the fact that these latest guys were caught as evidence of the statement.
And five, no matter what these men do, however insidiously they may cheat, regardless of the harm they’ll cause to themselves and to the game, there will always – always – be people there to defend them. To make excuses for them. To explain it all away.
I apologize for the segue because I admire the writer, but if Gonzalez has been unfairly linked to the others in the New Times story because no banned substances were listed next to his name, as Grantland’s Jonah Keri suggests, the Nationals’ lefthander is an adult capable of defending himself. He should be fine in the long run if he’s done nothing wrong.
Due process is not a concept to be ignored in our PED discussions, but I’m skeptical of Gonzalez, and if other players knew exactly who they were dealing with in Bosch, Gonzalez should have too. It’s not that complicated. I get the guilt by association idea; I’m just not all that concerned about it.
And what was Elfrink to do? Gonzalez’ name was found in the logs he was provided, he listed the substances as he they appeared, and included the obligatory denial from Gio’s father, Max, who was also named in the report.
What’s missing from this PED discussion, what is usually missing from the PED discussion, is the thing that to me ought to be most prominent, and that’s the following: This is drug abuse right out of the textbook. The stuff these guys are putting into their bodies is as bad or worse than everything your parents told you to avoid when you were a teenager.
They’re not just taking the drugs, they’re abusing them in a not too dissimilar way that a recreational user would his poison right off the street. They’re doing it for selfish reasons, out of greed, and almost entirely without the supervision of a genuine medical professional, instead relying upon a thoroughly under-qualified marketing man operating out of his own selfish and greedy motivations.
Good grief, people; the sponsors of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (and organizations like it) aren’t making egg-frying commercials for the fun of it. They’re not dedicating their waking hours to the prevention of drug abuse (and the extension of lives) because of junk science. This isn’t about temperance, OK?
Please don’t tell me this stuff is harmless. There is plenty of study to be done on the frequency, the quantities, and mixture of and the long-term use of the substances involved. And that’s if common sense isn’t enough for you. What it tells me is that these are really really really bad drugs we’re talking about here. We’re going to see stroke and heart attack and cancer decades down the line, and maybe sooner. Early unexplained death and suicide too, and for all we know, webbed feet.
Really really bad drugs; drugs that provide a type of high and taken by cheaters – yes, cheaters with a serious problem – who will lie and deny and lie some more because that’s what drug abusers do, and sold to them by scum bags. Total and complete scum bags.
Baseball’s brain is on drugs. An emphasis on the seriousness of the drug abuse is what’s required most. Policing the sport is important, obviously, should continue in concert, and it will. Worrying about hurt feelings and the defending of players comes in a very distant third.