By: Eric Thomas
The suspensions landed with a thud on Monday afternoon and laid there, fans stepped around them, not even trying to show the interest that the media automatically assumed they would. Maybe it was overhyped. Maybe it was like the Matrix sequels—an exercise in futility because the finished product could never live up to the hyper-inflated expectations. Maybe, and far more likely, it’s the latest fumble for Major League Baseball as they crawl out from the smoking wreckage the steroid scandal caused.
Endless leaks. It’s going to happen next month / next week / tomorrow / oh wait maybe Monday / it’s A-Rod’s fault, all combined to continue the circus atmosphere. Why couldn’t they do this in one fell swoop? Instead, we spent several months talking about steroids rather than baseball. By drawing this out, the conversation continued on endlessly. Steroids and baseball dance together again, the one thing the league wanted to avoid.
Baseball can’t seem to get out of its own way. Starting with the strike in 94, they’ve been mired in several embarrassing episodes. This latest was a self-inflicted wound. The evidence against the players remains behind a cloud. Rather than dumping out the bad news on some idle Friday, the league called for the spotlight to shine on their embarrassment several times, all in the misinformed name of law and order. Do they think these suspensions reflect favorably on the Commissioner’s office? Do they believe that any baseball fan pumped their fist, excited that the cheaters were punished? If they do, they’re more delusional than we ever previously considered.
Sports journalists and pundits are probably tired of talking about steroids, and for good reason. Melky Cabrera was a story for a few days. This was first murmured about in February, and the avalanche of “exclusive reports” started a few weeks into the season and endured until Monday afternoon. For all his faults, Roger Goodell would never let something like this happen. He’s quick, harsh and decisive. If there is a scandal, it’s answered or smothered before Twitter even finds out about it. Von Miller’s suspension came without a drum roll, most NFL fans outside of Denver have likely forgotten about it already.
The axiom in politics is “If you’re explaining, you’re losing,” and baseball would do well to heed it. Leaks are impossible to plug completely in the twenty-four hour news cycle, but this was completely unacceptable. It was almost two months of tomorrows; the negotiations with A-Rod almost used the press as an intermediary.
In a recent press conference, Bud Selig said he’s never had an email address. He might want to get one, because he’s losing the information age. He doesn’t seem to understand that the internet is an echo that never stops, where whispers turn to roars. Fans have endless amounts of outlets to gather their information, and those outlets need something to fill the space.
If the league was trying to look heroic in striking down cheating players, they’ve fumbled badly. They again appear as confused old men. If baseball intends to show fans they’re serious about enforcing the policies concerning performance enhancing drugs, then the man who presided over the desecration of their sacred record book should step down. If history tells the truth, the only constant in the entire steroid era, from the heads turned the other way to the players with needles in their arms—was Bud Selig.