By: Connor Lenahan
We currently live in a world where no matter how you slice and dice things, football is king. I swear to you that, having spent a summer stuck inside watching SportsCenter, it is physically impossible to watch the channel for more than 15 consecutive minutes without someone mentioning Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel or Aaron Hernandez with Hernandez being the only one worth covering.
With that in mind, it is flabbergasting to me that ESPN has been glossing over a large story, or manipulating one storyline of a scandal into their lead report. I’m talking about the Biogenesis scandal. ESPN has been hounding after Alex Rodriguez for weeks now after hearing that Commissioner Bud Selig is going to throw the hammer down on him. ESPN is currently reporting that Alex is going to be served a suspension for the remainder of this season and the entirety of the next. This is a big story, don’t get me wrong, but we are blatantly ignoring the bigger problem. Its not like Alex Rodriguez was the only client of Biogenesis.
2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for steroids in 2011 but was able to beat the test on a reported “technicality.” I would be lying if I said that I was surprised to see his name pop up in yet another steroid scandal less than two full years later. Braun was handed a suspension for the remainder of the 2013 season by the MLB. He was notable for having fought the previous suspension in 2011 with the tenacity of a heavyweight prizefight. This time around? He put his hands up and took his punishment.
What this has to mean is that the MLB had a strong enough case against Braun that they could suspend him as much as they wanted to with the evidence present. If I were one of the other players awaiting judgment day, I would be begging for mercy after seeing the two biggest names and what they are most likely to, or already have received.
ESPN is reporting that 12 players aside from Alex Rodriguez are about to be suspended for the Biogenesis scandal, possibly including: Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Bartolo Colon, Francisco Cervelli, Fernando Martinez, Melky Cabrera, Evereth Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, Jesus Montero, Cesar Puello, Jordan Noberto, and Fautino de los Santos.
I remember the day the Mitchell Report came out in 2007. This was going to be one of the more important days in baseball history, because we were about to get the compendium on who is juicing, and who isn’t. Some names that baseball fans and reporters were hoping played the game fair and clean, the proverbial fall back players that would be league wide role models, avoided implication (Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr, etc.)
Others weren’t as lucky. 18 major players I remember from my childhood were reported. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens, Lenny Dykstra, Eric Gagne, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Mo Vaughn, Rick Ankiel, Jose Canseco, Troy Glaus, Gary Matthews Jr and John Rocker all had their careers changed the day that report came out.
I admittedly don’t care about the names as much as I do the actions of the MLB following the report. The Mitchell Report was the second major study conducted on players using steroids in the MLB, along with the 2003 list, which has remained mostly secret (Save for the leaked names: Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Palmeiro, etc). The MLB wanted to create a strong policy against PEDs and try and drive them out of the game.
After the 2003 list, no suspensions came from the list. Admittedly, this was the deal with the players as the drug program was just being set up and it would be widely fought if the league changed the rules and started suspending people out of compliance with such a short turn around.
After the Mitchell Report, when there was a policy in the MLB to suspend people using PEDs, none of the 18 people I listed that were implicated in this report were suspended.
Biogenesis is the third major steroid scandal of the past decade, and the first time the MLB is going to suspend the players directly involved in the scandal.
If I am an MLB player, I’m terrified of what happens next if you’re involved in extracurricular activities that use a needle and syringe. Biogenesis is one lab. There are most certainly more, that’s just logic. The MLB isn’t playing games anymore. They are serious.
And it’s about damn time too.
I lived through the so-called “Steroid Era” of the late 90s. I have baseball cards of people that, as a wide-eyed fan around 6 years old, I was convinced were future Hall of Famers. I would learn later that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and the other big names I followed were never going to Cooperstown because they cheated.
I didn’t think I would also learn that steroid suspicion would be like a modern day Red Scare when it comes to Hall of Fame voting. For the first time since the 1960’s, no players were voted into the Hall of Fame this year. People with deserving cases, such as Jeff Bagwell, are getting shut out because he played in the 90s and had huge forearms. Being Popeye doesn’t 100% guarantee that you’re doping. Dan Uggla looks like an action figure and is hitting .197 as of late. Either he has big arms without steroids (he’s never tested positive, nor has he been suspected of juicing) or he is the worst at cheating in the game today.
It’s really, exceedingly weird to not have anyone go in. Especially with this being one of the first times I can remember the bulk of the candidates. All voters remember is their bulk.
Everyone is wishing for a cleaner game. They want to see names like Pujols and Jeter and Rivera in the Hall in a few years. With Biogenesis, and the suspensions coming tomorrow, the MLB has finally had enough, and is going to gut the best teams in the league (Texas, Detroit, etc) during a playoff chase, and suspend two of the biggest stars, and former MVPs, to make it clear that the days of ignoring steroid issues and avoiding suspensions are over. And this is one of the biggest stories in MLB history. Never before has their been a mass suspension like this for PEDs. The hammer is coming down. Tomorrow is going to forever change the face of baseball.
And all ESPN cares about is who will be taking snaps under center for the New York Jets this fall.
What a country we live in.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Connorlenahan.com. He is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism.