Major League Baseball this week suspended Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun for 65 games for violating baseball’s ban on performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs.
Braun, a recent National League Most Valuable Player, will miss the rest of 2013 season and forfeit his salary during his suspension. The last-place Brewers aren’t going anywhere, unless there’s a last last place, so MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s old team conveniently will save a hefty chunk of Braun’s $8.5 million annual salary.
Braun’s suspension is supposed to be the first domino to fall in yet another MLB drug scandal. Twenty or more players, including Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta, are suspected of purchasing/using PEDs from a Miami-based PEDs mill and also may face suspension.
If true, these players ignored the trials and tribulations of accused steroid users from the 1990s and 2000s, including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez. The great A-Rod also supposedly is neck deep in the most-recent PEDs scandal, making him an alleged multi-decade violator and a shoo-in for baseball’s Cheaters Hall of Fame.
So MLB soon will trot out the hapless Selig or one of his lackeys to speak in solemn tones about the need to get tough on those who sully the grand ol’ game’s reputation. Baseball won’t rest, Selig/mouthpiece will say, until the sport is free of cheaters.
But it’s all nonsense because baseball, Selig and an assortment of related hucksters and enablers (That means you, ESPN) don’t have any credibility when it comes to, well, credibility. It was Selig, after all, who bizarrely segued from Milwaukee Brewers ownership to become the full-time commissioner of baseball in 1998, coinciding with the steroid-fueled home run “battle” between McGwire and Sosa. Selig famously cheered on the pair, and it never seemed to dawn on him the sketchiness of two people simultaneously eclipsing a 60-home run plateau previously reached only twice in the sport’s history. And then came Barry Bonds.
Selig and baseball turned a blind eye to players’ drug-enhanced statistical circus for far too long, and they did so because cheating effectively re-energized a staid sport. The fact that so many players kept on cheating after Bonds, Clemens, etc., were exposed shows what little regard they had for baseball and its fans.
Baseball cashed in on players’ cheating too long for the latest show of toughness to mean a thing. For many fans, it’s at least strike three.