Keeping Score

Why The Latest Doping Scandal Won’t Really Hurt Baseball

According to ESPN, major league baseball is preparing to suspend a slew of players for doping, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. Why the game will go on.

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Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 15, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Joe Sargent / Getty Images

Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 15, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

So, it looks like major league baseball is getting set to hand down a whole slew of doping-related suspensions — about 20, according to an ESPN investigative report. Tony Bosch, founder of a now-shuttered Miami-area “wellness” clinic called Biogensis, has allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs, and ESPN reports that he is now ready to cooperate with MLB officials. Among the players facing possible 50-game or even 100-game suspensions, which are reserved for a second doping-related offense, according to ESPN: 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, who faced doping accusations after winning that award, Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted to using steroids in the past, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended last season for 50 games while playing for the San Francisco Giants, for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone, New York Yankees catcher  Francisco Cervelli, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz.

If these suspensions go down, they are certainly a huge deal, a black eye for the sport that threatens to dominate headlines for the foreseeable future. But baseball doping scandals don’t spark collective outrage anymore, or cause fans to flee the game. In instances like these, baseball benefits from its marketing strategy: game first, stars second. It also benefits from the game’s parochial nature. The sport now has minimal national television presence during the regular season: the days of gathering around for NBC’s Saturday Game of the Week are long gone. In basketball, games on TNT and ESPN might not be appointment viewing like the NFL is. But audiences tune in, to see the more visible, accessible stars like LeBron and Kobe do their thing.

Ryan Braun is a fantastic player. But even before he was embroiled in doping scandals, who outside Milwaukee, besides Brewers and maybe some hardcore baseball fans, would stop what they’re doing just to watch that guy hit? Who besides Brewers fans are really invested in Braun’s performance? So if he goes down for doping — last night Braun again dismissed the allegations — the business of baseball doesn’t change. Brewers fans are angry, because they lost a key player, and that makes them less competitive. And they may feel betrayed by Braun. But the games go on, to capture their attention, to distract them, every day.

Baseball is bigger than a bunch of dopes.

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9 comments
riccismiles
riccismiles

HINT: It wont bother baseball because as of TODAY, I'm pretty sure we are finishing just over a DECADE of ROID scandals. SO, since they seem to remain on the scene, no one is paying attention to them anymore. Its like boobs on a European beach. (and BOOBS is appropriate)

brenro12
brenro12

$29 million a year and a dope user. Pro sports are out of control

MattMcNamara
MattMcNamara

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that the 'fans' defend the dopers....it took cycling (my preferred drug) decades to face reality and they didn't have nearly the power of the players union. Some day, mark my words, the major sports will have a testing protocol similar to the biopassport cycling uses. Then you have a baseline AND testing to snare the cheats..which is what they are...CHEATING! Anyone who justifies it is simply stupid or an enabler...then again aren't we all enablers for following these sports with the rabid enthusiasm we do....maybe we should all get lives!? Gotta run....Criterium du Dauphine is on :)

evan_glenn
evan_glenn

It's funny how everyone is jumping to conclusions when NO new evidence has been presented?  This isn't really even a story, it's been no secret that MLB wishes to suspend Braun and others for PEDs but the problem is it's not because they found some new damning evidence, they just want to stroke their ego.  Really the only thing thats changed is some proven liar was blackmailed into telling the media everything MLB wanted him to say, while also calling off their investigation and immunity in any ongoing investigations that follow.  OF COURSE he's going to take that deal, and hell probably say anything they want him to say because he's a LIAR.  and all we know he's going to say that Braun and others didn't use PEDs, that everything was legal and Braun's legal team was there to consult.  It's not like any of these players have failed a test?  It's quite a shame actually, people need to stop jumping to conclusions before all the evidence is presented. 

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@evan_glenn

what conclusions were jumped to? this was a pretty middle of the road article. and, not to justify it, but when you have players like braun and a-rod who have been suspended, admitted to using steroids, or have had that shadow of doubt cast over them in the past, people are going to take that into account. in a trial, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, but his criminal history may be used against him because it shows a pattern of behavior. same case here. still innocent until proven guilty, but having a checkered past counts against you in the eyes of pretty much everybody

RyanSMarkel
RyanSMarkel

Personally, Im over it and think it has gone to far now to just burn the players... Hidden documents, buyouts of facility paper work with signatures on it, bad testing procedures, congreesional freakn meetings, ruined last yrs of greats, asterisks or no asterisks. Look if they are using HGH and Equpoise, Deca, Winnie V, ect ect ect.. then okay.. but if its adderall give them a chance to get the prescription papers and legitimatizes it, if its elevated testosterone levels  dont publish it, dont suspend them until they are given a chance to lower to a correct amount since HMMMM wait.. do you have a baseline of every players testosterone levels ... NO are they maybe high sure but going to GNC and getting TBOMB or a Generic Testosterone Booster like millions of people do... QUIT WASTING OUR TIME


DanBruce
DanBruce

Professional sports itself has become a drug, with media the pushers.

Discursions
Discursions

A sportswriter has a vested interest in saying sports will be just as important when they're corrupt and full of cheats as they used to be.  But surely it's a different audience for dope-addled cheaterball.

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