Overshadowing actual baseball news yesterday, Ryan Braun was suspended for 65 games for his connections to Biogenesis, a Florida company that supplied baseball players with banned substances. It is apparently a very big deal.
It’s not as though there aren’t other subjects to talk about. The Tampa Bay Rays have climbed to within a half-game of the Boston Red Sox thanks to a Matt Moore shutout yesterday. The Chicago Cubs traded Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for a small army of young players. The Dodgers might finally be good.
If the context wasn’t obvious, the whole thing is pretty ridiculous. The idea of Braun being required to apologize to me personally or to baseball fans or to those he “cheated” just confounds me. Or, maybe it’s exhaustion. But he has had no impact on my life since winning the National League’s Rookie of the Year award in 2007, and I can’t imagine that changes.
Since the baseball world was duped into caring about Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s home run chase in 1998, there has been this constant movement for baseball to right old wrongs and punish anything and everything that moves in an attempt to make the game as pure as it was in the good ole’ days, when men were men and players ran on hot dogs and played hurt and whatever other nostalgic nonsense is spewed up in these cases.
I don’t understand it. I don’t see or feel the moral outrage and I don’t feel particularly good or hurt or vindicated when a player is busted for using outlawed chemicals on his body.
In instances like these, it’s acceptable to just let bare facts carry the story. In 2011, a failed drug test was improperly handled and Braun escaped punishment. In 2013, he admitted in a plea deal of sorts to wrongdoing and was suspended by baseball. It’s perfectly reasonable to read that the same as “the car drove down the road” or “the supermarket sells ground beef,” in that it’s fine to not feel any sort of emotional pull.
Again, it could just as easily be steroid fatigue. Keeping the game clean and punishing players who violate the terms of competition are important tasks, but to sit here and maintain moral outrage whenever a baseball player tries to get an edge on the rest of the league seems futile. Factoring in how much the outrage dwarfs that of the other major North American sports shows how strange the culture of baseball’s perceived drug problem is. Football players go away for four games at a time in the NFL and not much is thought of it beyond possible fantasy impacts, maybe. But when a baseball player cheats, it’s supposedly some indictment on society as a whole.
Ryan Braun did not take money from me directly, as far as I can tell. He doesn’t play for a team I care for, I didn’t have any sort of feelings on him being named MVP over Matt Kemp one way or the other, he didn’t promise me a home run in a hospital bed, I don’t have any stake in the remaining 65 games his team has to play without him. He plays baseball, he broke a rule and now he won’t play baseball for a couple of months.
I watch baseball and write about it on occasion. I still get to do what I do. I don’t see the need for an apology.