For those who follow baseball (and sports in general) there is a general refrain from fans and non fans alike. It goes something like, ‘well, they all use steroids and drugs to do better, they’re all a bunch of cheaters.’ As someone who is both critical of modern society for a number of reasons (primarily as a socialist of sorts), and a sports fan, I’m generally thinking quietly to myself about a lack of insight into how these things correlate.
Our society thrives on performance enhancers. We drink coffee, get implants, surgeries, diets, we live for a culture of this. To point to it in the context of sports seems a bit narrow; and giving sports too much credit. Considering I start my morning with espresso to ‘wake myself up and alert’ I don’t have much of a leg to stand on. We live with a desire of modification, enhancement, etc. I don’t mean to call into question at all the idea of thriving; just at this function I see as maladjusted.
‘But scale, scale! Coffee is one thing, but steroids, that’s a whole different level.’
Sure, but is this what troubles us? The degree of the use and the lengths to which we go? Or are we setting up a cultural straw man to put down what we hate about our culture and society as a whole? We hate the PED user because it allows us a separation, to normalize our own way of life but allows us each to act as moral authorities on a subject. We can collectively abhor someone; rather than looking at PED use as a function of a capitalist society that preaches profits first. When we set arbitrary deadlines, limits, borders (normally right on the other side of what we already do) we’re just not being ethically honest.
That serves as my long introduction to my thoughts on baseball’s ongoing issues with what are called ‘performance enhancing drugs’ (PEDs). I put that in quotes because I can’t claim to know the effects of what anyone takes; and thus far, neither can MLB. There is some anecdotal evidence (the ‘steroid era’, which is that period of time we collectively pretended we didn’t know what was going on but did and now pretend to be morally outraged while having bought tickets and jerseys of said people at the time) but if taking PED’s made everyone who took them All-Stars, Freddy Galvis would be stoked on life and signing a $20 million per year extension. The science shows, it’s just not that simple.
So there is more to it than that. Thus, favor: let’s cut the crap on everyone playing junior biologist (or metabologist? is that a thing?) And let’s practice the fine art of nuance and complicating these issues and placing them in relation to our society and it’s values.
I bring all this up, because in this moment, MLB is going after a number of athletes in the Biogenesis scandal. It’s the semi-annual straw-manning of a few token players and making an example of them. This years candidates include Attack on Braun 2: The Revenge of Selig; in which Braun, who some say ‘got off on a technicality’ (who knew so many people didn’t believe in due process, where a simple procedure has to be followed and if you don’t, then the results are invalidated) was a ‘technicality.’
Silly me, I thought it was the basis for activity and civil society. Process simply matters. And in this latest one, Selig has decided to come out guns blazing. Leaking names of athletes, suing the founder of Biogenesis; then agreeing to drop the suit, and pay any resulting legal/civil suit fees that may ensue in order for evidence.
So to recap: MLB sued Anthony Boesch (Biogenesis founder), saying essentially ‘I will bury you‘; then agreed to drop that suit and pay any lasting legal ramifications (you’d have to believe that the players will sue him in a breach of confidentiality, whether they have standing remains to be seen) and basically call in a favor and ask that he not be prosecuted by the DA.
And we, the fans, are supposed to support his crusade. We are supposed to believe that this is somehow in the interest of the fans and the game. I won’t go over ad naseum my thoughts on the use of PEDs, the ‘Steroid Era’ etc, but I can sum it up by saying: we all knew it was happening, we turned an eye, then we crucified those who used it with our high-fiving, ticket-buying, home run ball chasing asses.
I do agree that if there is a joint agreement (a union contract) players sign on and agree to a policy/results/process. Thus, I am not saying that people who violate their agreements should not be held to account. But running over due process, calling in congressional favors on a witchhunt? I can’t sign on to this and won’t be cheerleading this crusade. No thanks. And no progressive or radical sports fan should be either.
Oh also, #freebarry #hof