The East Coast and West Coast offices ask each other 5 questions about a certain topic. The answers to those questions are placed here, for your immediate enjoyment. These are the coast-to-coast conversations. Our topic this week: Biogenesis and baseball. Looking at everything from Gio Gonzalez’s vindication to Ryan Braun hiding in the shadow of another former MVP.
THE EAST COAST OFFICE
(questions from The West Coast Office)
- Even though Gio Gonzalez was cleared, do you think that he will be under the microscope more as a result of his name simply being mentioned?
I don’t think so. Given that Gio was already an All-Star before his name was ever dropped in the Biogenesis mud, I think people will continue to believe that his accomplishments down the line are the result of hard work and natural talent, and not cheating. In a general sense, I think perception is now a problem for every ballplayer given the massive scope of this scandal, and not just this guy.
- Do you think it’s fair that Rodriguez be allowed to continue playing while his appeal is carried out, considering it may take the entire season (and possibly postseason) for a verdict to be reached?
Yes I think so. I would feel differently if there was a failed drug test that the MLB could produce to the public and definitively label A-Rod as a cheater, but thus far all we have heard is speculation. The fact that the MLB may have strong-armed Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch into providing the answers they wanted to hear makes a causal fan like me even more wary of effectively ending A-Rod’s career without a chance at a fair hearing. This is a strange situation where it seems that we all know he’s guilty, the only question is to what degree. Based on that, it seems fair that if he is healthy enough to play, he should be able to until the appeals process has concluded, as if he were any other ballplayer suspected of PED use.
- Is 50 games enough of a punishment for the players who have accepted their suspensions?
I have no reason to disagree with baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement which outlines the punishments for PED infractions as 50 games for a first violation, 100 for a second, and a third violation resulting in a lifetime ban. Missing just under a third of season seems appropriate to me; especially considering the equivalent standard in the NFL is a 4 game suspension equaling only 25% of the season.
- Are you concerned that some of the punishments in this case do not follow the collectively bargained rules between the MLB and MLBPA?
Absolutely. Braun and Rodriguez are interesting precedents; neither player has ever officially failed a drug test or otherwise been caught red-handed with PEDs and yet both will serve a sentence longer than the typical 50 games. If the MLB can suspend A-Rod for 200 games without a positive test, what is there to stop future commissioners from targeting specific players based only on the perception of their cheating?
- Do you think this is the last we’ll hear of PED use in baseball? (at least for the foreseeable future)
I certainly hope so. Obviously the MLB planned its attack to garner longer suspensions for the two biggest fish worth frying. Whether this was by design or a reality of their infractions, we may never know. But the hope is that this mass-suspension draws the attention not only of fans (in the form of relief that the MLB is finally confronting this issue) but also of the current and future players who realize that the risks outweigh the benefits. While MLB may not have taken the most ethical road, that is certainly a destination worth rooting for.
THE WEST COAST OFFICE
(questions from The East Coast Office)
- Which would-be contender has been hurt the most by these suspensions (purely in terms of on-the-field results)?
It’s hard to say “would be contender” when talking about the suspensions, as many of the players are from teams that aren’t really vying for a post-season berth. Of the teams losing players, the Yankees, Padres, Phillies, Mets, Brewers, Astros, and Mariners are all at least 10 games back in their respective divisions. So between the Tigers, who lose Jhonny Peralta, and the Rangers, losing Nelson Cruz, I’d say the Rangers lose more. The Tigers just traded for Jose Iglesias, a very capable young shortstop who is brilliant defensively, and it’s not like the Tigers ever hurt for offense with the cybernetic Miguel Cabrera and power-swinging Prince Fielder. The Rangers already lost Hamilton from their outfield in the offseason and now lose a solid two-way player in Cruz. Plus the AL West is dominated by a very capable Oakland team, putting more pressure on Texas to win games.
- Has Bud Selig helped or hurt his own personal legacy by doggedly going after suspected cheaters and ensuring that steroids remain a relevant topic within the sport?
This is hard to really answer for sure. I’ve never been a big fan of Selig to begin with, but have to admit he has been given a pretty tough hand when it comes to being Commissioner of the MLB. He did give us the wild card, which has done wonders for the excitement in October, but he also pretty much ignored the steroid issue until it blew up in his face. I think his actions here are probably going to look better on paper in 20 years, but right now it’s awfully hard for me to see this as anything more than an old man trying to show the world he has changed. Do I agree with him? Certainly, but I also am of the opinion that this whole mess might have been avoided had the hammer been brought down sooner.
- Without knowing the evidence which MLB has on Alex Rodriguez, is there any chance he could eventually make the Hall of Fame?
Do I think he’ll make it there eventually? Yes, but like Barry Bonds, it’s probably going to take a while. A-Roid was one of the most exciting players on one of the most exciting teams in baseball history. The Seattle Mariners of the early-to-mid 90’s were a thing of beauty with Griffey Jr. and Rodriguez as brilliant young stars and Randy Johnson was knocking out his own teeth from pitching too hard. There is no denying that he had all the potential in the world to be a hall-of-famer. Hell, he probably would be in there on the first ballot if he had never taken PEDs. But he did, and the voters will take a long time to forget that.
- Why hasn’t there been more public backlash against Braun, who fraudulently won the MVP award just two years ago and in the course of protesting his (false) innocence, got both the tester and arbitrator fired?
Short answer: because baseball can’t afford that right now. It took a long time for the MLB to start building up its credibility again after the home run race and ensuing witch hunt. All of those players are gone now, and the page was just starting to turn until these new charges came up. It’s much more acceptable for the average viewer to see A-Rod, a previous offender who is already extremely disliked by the majority of fans, as the poster boy for the scandal. If fans were looking only at Braun’s face, they’d start to question all of the young stars. In my opinion, it’s all about saving face.
- What’s the best thing about the A-Rod suspension as a Red Sox fan?
I have been going back and forth trying to figure out which I’d prefer: The Yankees having to pay Cheat-Rod $75 million, or watching his sad face for an entire season. I would have to go with the sad face though, because if the Yankees are freed from the burden of A-Roid’s ludicrous contract, they will have money to rebuild. And when they rebuild, they get good again. And if they’re good again, the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry becomes much more fun. Watching one team or the other simply stop playing well makes things much less exciting. As much as the small-market teams hate to admit it, it’s good for baseball when both of these teams do well. And I’m all for more people watching baseball.