On December 13, 2007, I drove home from work in a blizzard. A twenty-five-mile, fifty-minute commute from Waltham to Chelmsford, Massachusetts turned into to a four-hour journey. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had my new XM radio tuned to one of the baseball channels, so I could be "entertained" by the Mitchell Report on anobolic steroids and human growth hormone use in MLB. It was painful to listen to, but it was well timed in baseball's dead period between The Winter Meetings and the beginning of spring training.
The investigation, led by former United States Senator George Mitchell was not all bad. It made the public more aware of the breadth of baseball's drug problems and led to further tightening of drug testing policies. Commissioner Bud Selig, owners and players were finally taking some responsibility for Performance Enhancing Drug use in the game. Now, we could all move forward and get back to baseball.
News of PED use never really left the game. There were the silly congressional hearings with Roger Clemens. There were reminders from some writers that the era where millions of fans fell in love with the game was a fraud. It resulted in one of the strongest Hall of Fame ballots of all time producing no Hall of Famers. Then there was the Ryan Braun mess in 2011 when he won the MVP, tested positive positive for drugs and got the test thrown out on a technicality.
For the most part though, things were getting better. There would be occasional suspensions and players were punished according to the rules and it usually happened fairly quietly. Fans calmed down. Writers calmed down. Declining offensive outputs made it seem more like 1984 than 2001. There was a was a sense that baseball was getting back to normal.
Then, it all came crashing down again earlier this year and MLB seemed strangely eager to let it happen. It became know that some MLB players had connections with Biogenesis of America an anti-aging clinic founded by doctor impersonator and drug dealer Anthony Bosch. Baseball cut deals with Bosch and the equally shady former Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer to get incriminating information on players.
Unlike the random drug tests, MLB decided they would not keep the Biogenesis data to themselves. During the course of the season, MLB repeatedly leaked out names of players such as Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and Jhonny Peralta. This has been a major distraction to the season with constant rumors about who would be suspended, for how long and whether or not they would appeal.
The news has affected Tigers fans in particular as they have been dealing with the uncertainty of Peralta during a pennant race. I am not wring this because of Peralta though. He's having a good offensive season,but I won't lose any sleep should he get suspended for the rest of the season. I'm kind of excited to see what new shortstop Jose Iglesias can do anyway.
What bothers me is that this whole saga could have been kept quiet until decisions were made. There was no need to leak out names and interrupt the flow of the season. They could waited until next winter to announce the decisions too. Yet, for some odd reason, MLB seemed to think it was a good idea to take down the game publicly at a time everyone is trying to concentrate on the season.
It's almost as if MLB wants to bring negative attention to the game.