Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Name Game

Isn't this fun?

Every day or so, we have another name coming out of the Biogenesis clinic ledger:  Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, and Gio Gonzalez originally, then Ryan Braun, and most recently Jesus Montero and Jhonny Peralta.

This is very much (and you can certainly consider this unfortunate, if you'd like) a situation of guilty until 100% proven innocent.  Presumed guilt seems to stick more to some players than others, and so Gonzalez and Cruz might very well get off with just a couple of weird sidelong looks while Rodriguez and Braun get pilloried.

I do feel a bit for the "clean" players, the guys who didn't use.  For years, they've complained publicly and privately that they were being tarred with the same brush as the PED enhancers.  (Note Craig Biggio being kept out of the Hall of Fame.)  What hurts them is that this keeps happening -- and worse, that it keeps happening with baseball's best players, from Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens to Manny Ramirez and now to Ryan Braun.

I'm right now listening to Richard Justice discuss on Tony Kornheiser's show to what extent he trusts/believes each player (he trusts that Gio Gonzalez is totally clean, for instance), which strikes me as the way we've all reacted to each new allegation right from the very day it came out that Mark McGwire had androstenedione in his locker.  ("Quick:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a cheater is he?")

Thankfully, I'm starting to hear a change in the conversation from some very smart people out there, Craig Calcaterra among them.  The questions need to shift from "Who's using?  How do we discourage them from using with stiff penalties?" to "Who's supplying?  How do we stop suppliers from reaching our players?"  There will always be new players to the new game, seeking their own personal advantage -- inexperienced, unworldly, shortsighted, arrogant, stupid, ambitious, unethical, ignorant, money/glory-seeking, and/or naive sorts of players -- and so any illegal advantages must be shut off right from the source.

That's the real challenge for Major League Baseball:  Stay pro-active, not reactive.  Find every other clinic and supplier, and then shut it down.

Then, and only then, the name game will finally cease.

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