By: Eric Thomas
The performance enhancing drugs scandal that began as a pebble of a rumor for Major League Baseball players is now starting to look more like the boulder that chased Indiana Jones.
The DEA continues its massive investigation of Anthony Bosch, the Florida medicine man who consulted Alex Rodriguez on everything from nutrition and blood analysis to allegedly administering Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Sources were quoted as saying there may be as many as 20 players on his client list. Now it appears that one of the ones on that long list is Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers.
Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, and everyone else wilting in the magnesium glow of this investigation have denied any wrongdoing; Peralta followed their lead. In a statement through his attorney he said, “I have never used performance enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.” At least he didn’t go as far as A-Rod, who gave a nauseating quote claiming that the Yankees had invented the story to avoid paying him the $100 million they rightly owe him for a quality of play that was far below what was expected. I believe those words might qualify Rodriguez to be pictured next to ‘solipsism’ in the dictionary.
Now the scandal has come to the Motor City, the strength of the DEA’s case still isn’t clear but it would be fair to say that this doesn’t bode well. These kind of allegations rarely turn out false, with the player under scrutiny usually getting off on a technicality despite the gathered evidence that they are as guilty as sin. Does the DEA have a proverbial smoking gun that will lead to suspensions, fines, or worse? Does this mean that Peralta’s inflated 2011 season, where he bat .299 with an .824 OPS, was chemically induced? Neither, at the time of this writing, are clear.
He denies it now but that denial will likely meet a tin ear among sports fans. Many in Detroit want to believe him, but they stand alongside others who spent most of 2012 calling for his resignation. Wherever your caucus, the sound of an athlete swearing that they never, ever, ever took steroids is rightly met with skepticism. Lance, Barry, Mark, Jose, no one believes anyone anymore…for good reason.
Peralta might be innocent, but his compatriots have done him no favors. Perhaps if athletes were more vocal about their team mates’ malfeasance we might be more likely to believe those who stand accused. Locker rooms are ruled with almost Mafia level secrecy, no one will snitch. Those caught are never properly castigated by their peers. Players have chosen instead to cry McCarthyist tactics. It’s understandable, however, too many athletes have released finger wagging statements, pointing at everything but themselves, and each time the evidence of their deceit would then appear under whatever rock the DEA turned over.
To be blunt, Peralta has always been a role player. His near .300 average two years ago was met with a measure of amazement. His All Star turn was so surprising that most Tigers’ fans seemed to think it was a mirage. Twitter is already awash of jokes about how PEDs apparently don’t provide range on the infield.
Subsequent days will bring discussion about the impact. Will the Tigers cut ties because they feel like his post PED drop will be dramatic? Will baseball have enough dirt to deal a suspension? There will be plenty who shrug their shoulders as they put this scandal on the shelf with the others. Athletes need to understand that this cynicism has been built and fortified by their silence. Don’t expect anyone to believe you if you’re next.
Below you will find the Tigers statement on the situation:
“The Detroit Tigers fully support Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
We are aware of this report, however since this matter is currently part of an investigation by Major League Baseball, the Club is not at liberty to comment.”