As news broke this week that Major League Baseball will likely suspend approximately 20 players in connection to a looming PED scandal (which would be the largest in American sports history… you’re welcome, Lance?), I find it interesting that the timing coincides with this week’s MLB Draft. Many of those implicated in the Biogenesis controversy are lauded as some of the best in the game; one of the biggest names a former number-one draft pick (Alex Rodriguez in 1993). I see pictures of these young men being drafted, many fresh out of high school, incredible young athletes with youthful builds — no bloated muscles or the tree-trunks-for-necks we see on of some of those implicated, who we have to assume had some help along the way. I wonder what kinds of temptations these draftees will face not so very far from now, the pressure to live up to their billing.
I have hope that this controversy and subsequent bringing-to-justice spurs a change in mindset, a change in the culture of baseball — something I thought the PED scandal of the last decade would have done. But as Lance Armstrong showed us, the science and technology has only become better, the ability to hide what one is doing more advanced. But the part that really irks me, the part that gets me really pissed off on behalf of a sport I love, is that seasons upon seasons, records upon records, are affected by the play of those who have been cheating along the way.
I suppose I look at this Draft as a new beginning, a chance to do it right with the new crop of baseball hopefuls. Of course these young men get to choose what does or does not going into their bodies. But we, as fans, get to choose what we are willing to accept in sports, who we are willing to hold up as role models and heroes. And we need to demand better than drug-fueled greatness.