“It will shock you how much it never happened.” — Don Draper
One term which seems to have gained a lot steam six months into 2013 is “fauxrage,” the act of getting upset over a trivial matter and trying to blow it way out of portion.
It’s hard to say Tuesday night’s ESPN Outside the Lines report that Major League Baseball will attempt to suspend Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and host of others is trivial. Attempting to suspend a pair of former MVPs for over 100 games based on the testimony from the operator of a shuttered anti-aging clinic is certainly big news.
At the same time, as a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan for nearly three decades, I simply don’t care.
When it comes to baseball and PEDs it’s hard to do anything other than shrug, especially in this case when it looks like nothing more than a witch hunt conducted by Bud Selig and his cronies to claim the scalps of some prominent players, winning some cheap headlines in the process to show it’s taking its drug enforcement policy seriously. Of course, is suspending players based on the testimony of a dubious third party source, rather than a failed drug test, a threshold MLB wants to cross?
Wouldn’t MLB’s time and resources be much better spent trying to get to the root cause of why players, even with harsh penalties in place, still seek out ways to cheat the system to try to gain an artificial performance edge? Apologies for making an analogy from “The Wire” a decade after the fact, but stories like this are nothing more than Selig’s version of “dope on the table.”
Educating athletes at a young age of the potential risks of using PEDs, enforcing anti-steroid measures in the minors or even in high school? That’s hard and takes a lot of work to win over minds. Using testimony from a disgraced anti-aging clinic runner to splash the names Rodriguez and Braun all over the news? That’s a lot easier, yet does it even serve as a deterrent to a young ballplayer when they see Rodriguez is making $28 million this season?
More than that it’s hard to feel outraged as a fan that players were juiced during the “Steroid Era” since technically baseball didn’t have any testing in place on the Major League-level until 2006. The outrage should be among the players who were clean during that era and watched franchises fork over a king’s ransom to players whose stats were boosted chemically, as the MLB Player’s Association dug in its heels against any form of testing.
That stain from the ‘Steroid Era’ has been tough for baseball to shake since it appears to be the only sport to evoke so much outrage or even “fauxrage” when it comes to PEDs. For what it’s worth there hasn’t been a Major Leaguer suspended in the 2013 calendar year for a PED violation, yet seven NFL players have received four-game suspensions for substance violations already this year and nobody bats an eye. Tuesday, the same day the A-Rod/Braun news broke, Chicago Bears’ tight end Gabe Miller received a four-game ban and it was met with a collective yawn. The entire integrity of the NFL wasn’t called into question.
If the possibility of PEDs still lingering in baseball offends you, don’t buy a ticket or watch. Personally, after the news broke about A-Rod and Braun it didn’t take me that long to completely forget about it and focus on the Tigers/Rays game I was watching through the MLB At Bat app, which, by the way, already had four million downloads by Opening Day so apparently not all sports fans are turned off by the specter of PEDs on the diamond.
Most baseball fans I know aren’t outraged — or fauxraged — by this much, if at all.
The game is the game and that’s what we tend to care about.
[Photo via Getty]