Like it or not, baseball is making news again with regard to performance enhancing drugs. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: Help. I’m wrestling with a double standard that I know is foolish, that I can’t seem to overcome. When I hear about baseball players using PEDs, I get mad. I want them suspended. I want justice served. When I hear about football players doing the same thing, I shrug.
Styf: Soon enough, the NFL cheats will be suspended like the cycling and baseball ones for HGH and all kinds of sophisticated acronyms like that. I’m beyond being appalled at someone shooting themselves up or downing some sort of illegal concoction to get an advantage. It’s bad practice, all of it. But the line between legal and barely legal, as Ali G once asked Attorney General Richard Thornburgh about (excuse the obscure reference), is ever shifting.
Musick: Booyakasha. Yes, there is plenty of gray area in the fight between good and evil in sports. But it seems pretty black and white to me that Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the Biogenesis Bunch have tried to cheat the game. That said, I think this has been a great couple of weeks for baseball. Not only is Bud Selig angry at the cheaters, but other players are angry, too. About time.
Styf: The other players being angry strikes me as being about as sincere as Braun saying he did nothing wrong. I’ll generalize now and state that the majority of pro athletes I’ve spoken to don’t come off as open and honest when they’re holding court with the media. They’re saying what they want you to hear and what they want you to repeat, in most cases. They’re thinking about their image and distancing themselves from ostracized players like A-Rod, Jose Canseco and ... Sammy Sosa. Yep, I went there.
Musick: I guess the best way to test the players’ sincerity is for the baseball players to push the union to agree to harsher penalties right here, right now. Fifty games for a first-time offender is nothing when players stand to gain millions by inflating their muscles and their statistics. You don’t need an apology for bringing up Slammin’ Sammy’s name. I remember loving baseball in the summer of 1998. I completed zero homework the night Mark McGwire hit No. 62 off of Steve Trachsel. Maybe if I studied harder (or at all) that night, I could have been an engineer.
Styf: I once wanted to be an accountant. That fell through when I fell in love with Detroit Tigers baseball, bad baseball. I’m sure Damion Easley and Luis Gonzalez and Billy Ripken (oh, that practical joke bat handle baseball card) were no angels. I know Bobby Higginson wasn’t. But back to baseball that actually matters. I assume it’s in the game, and I assume the game has changed significantly. When I look back on this 10 years from now, I’m sure I’ll remember Yasiel Puig’s first month as being a lot better than it was. That’s what we tend to do. The sad part of the influx of enhancing drugs is that it took a lot of that away. The late ’90s and early 2000s feel like a wasteland to me. Brady Anderson and Damion Easley were way cooler then than now.
Musick: You can add A-Rod to that group.
Styf: But I never respected him. So for me, nothing has changed. Except for not having to dislike him any more.
Musick: Fair enough. When he was a young phenom, I fell for the act. I won’t do it again! (Yes, I will.)