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A-Rod, Albert & PEDs Latin America

Posted By Steven Keys On Aug 17 2013 @ 5:33 pm In New York Yankees | 9 Comments

Fifty years from now, what will people remember about Biogenesis?

I’ll tell ya’ what they won’t remember:

Tony Bosch, its founder, and the un-paid employee Porter Fischer who clued us all in;

Most of the culprits who made the list of shame (17), and;

Those nameless investigators (fed / mlb) who brought it all to fruition.

What they will remember:

Its two prize catches, Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and how it defined their careers, and;

That the suspensions marked a demarcation point for MLB in its never-ending war on PEDs (another endless war) and the child-like, cheater’s mind-set which they feed.

Not just deterring and exposing the scoundrels through testing, but going on the offensive by going after points of distribution and those who operate the dens of drugs & deceit.

In all, seventeen men are suspended, three in 2012, fourteen this season, with only Alex Rodriguez appealing his suspension. Some may’ve lied and / or obstructed MLB’s investigation, all of them violated the player-approved Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program’s prohibition on PED use by way of their association with the Bosch family owned Florida-based drug distributorship.

The good news:

Biogenesis bust = more deterrence

How much more? Hard to say. If the reaction from fans, announcers and players is any indication, the support for baseball’s eradication efforts, some coupled with unabashed anger directed at those who continue to flaunt the PED ban, has never appeared stronger.

The bad news:

1) This time we got lucky

The Biogenesis gang didn’t get corralled because baseball’s testing procedures are tight, they got caught because of a federal mandate to halt illicit PED sales. Then the Boschs made it easy for ’em by stiffing employees who were privy to sensitive, damning data.

MLB’s working to catch cheaters but druggies don’t seem all that deterred by what’s in place. Baseball cannot rely on Feds or disgruntled employees to turn the tide on the PED war. That means MLBPA needs to get serious and help MLB bar the door: two blood-draws, each year, every player. Anything less is just a gift of deceit in pretty wrapping.

2) “It ain’t over, ‘til it’s over

A dark cloud hangs over baseball…and it’s not all A-Rod’s doing.

Alex Rodriguez continues to play while he appeals his suspension to newly hired arbitrator Fred Horowitz who expects to give his decision sometime in Nov – December.

Sure, A-Rod looks culpable, given his past, what’s been floated in the media and all his fellow ‘clinic’ customers taking their lumps. But the 3-time MVP has the most to lose in accepting this ban and then the most to gain if, by some chance, he prevails (See; Braun / Das ‘12), which, as rumor has it, would most likely mean a reduction in suspension.

It’s A-Rod’s cumulus, but it’s arbitration who’s stalled the front.

The wheel of justice gave itself a fat time-frame to render a ruling. No doubt there’s lots o’ data to digest but this ain’t exactly the Miller-Coors merger. Put on that thinking cap Fred, process any add’l matter and get ‘er done. It’s the national pastime, for god’s sake.

Letting this drag-out may give Rodriguez a lift (if he can boost the Yanks), but does no good for MLB or fans. Affording even the chance A-Rod goes Aaron Boone (‘03) and sends America’s Team into the fall classic is an outcome baseball just shouldn’t afford.

3) Trending South-of-the-Border

He stands off alone, ignored by press & public whenever talk of PEDs or baseball talent South of the Rio Grande is topic of conversation.

He’s the 10,000 pound elephant in the room and represents the apparent prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in the Latin American baseball community.

He can’t be overlooked anymore. Biogenesis has pushed him smack dab into the center of the room where…well, he’ll still get the ‘Who, what?,’ no doubt.

Nationalities on MLB’s recent list of suspendees:

Melky Cabrera (2012): Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (‘84);

Bartolo Colon: Altamira, Dominican Republic (‘73);

Yasmani Grandal: Havana, Cuba (‘88);

Nelson Cruz (2013): Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic (‘80);

Everth Cabrera: Nandaime, Nicaragua (‘86);

Jhonny Peralta: Santiago, Dominican Republic (‘82);

Antonio Bastardo: Hato Mayor del Ray, Dominican Republic (‘85);

Francisco Cervelli: Valencia, Venezuela (‘86);

Jordany Valdespin: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic (‘87);

Jesus Montero: Guacara, Venezuela (‘89);

Cesar Puello: La Romana, Dominican Republic (‘91);

Sergio Escalona: El Tocuyo, Venezuela (‘84);

Fernando Martinez: Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic (‘88);

Fautino de los Santos: La Vega, Dominican Republic (‘86);

Jordan Norberto: Nagua, Dominican Republic (‘86);

Ryan Braun: Los Angeles, CA, USA (‘83);

Alex Rodriguez: New York, NY, USA (‘75) (Wikipedia: “Biogenesis baseball scandal”).

While PEDs are a menace that span the globe, altering bodies & minds of athletes everywhere (maybe more kids than we’d admit), the regularity with which those caught using in the Majors are Latin American in origin, might suggest a disturbing cultural trend in that region of the world engaged in the business operations of baseball development.

Could it be a mere coincidence that 15 of 17 are from Latin America, ten names from the Dominican Republic alone? If it is, it’s an awful “BIG coincidence (Elaine).”

Baseball must do more to educate players & associates on the wrongs and risks of using PEDs, wherever it has established a working relationship, whether that be South of the border, in Asia or North America.

Albert Pujols’ Timing Off

It’s not the man’s swing. Al’s on the DL, wearing a recuperative boot, last I heard.

I’m referring to Pujols’ talk of legal action against former player turned short-lived radio chatterbox, Jack Clark and radio WGNU, after Clark made bold statements concerning Pujols and his supposed PED use (“Albert“ / ESPN.com / 8-12-13).

Albert wants to protect his reputation. That’s cool. Not much worse than being wrongly accused, whether with malice or ignorance. Jack’s entitled to suspicions but to say he “know(s) for a fact” Al “has been a juicer,” well, you better have more than heresy to back that up or you’re gonna’ lose your job and maybe need to lawyer-up (“Albert” / ESPN).

Because for so long there was no testing, then only urine takes, now random blood draws once in a blue moon, when assessing player performance, we’re stuck with limiting language like ‘I suspect’ or ‘maybe he is, maybe he isn’t.’

My question to Mr. Pujols: If you’ve been clean, where was your voice ten, five years back when people outside baseball were calling for HGH blood tests and players had to be dragged kicking & screaming even to get on board with the leaky-standard passing-off for prevention policy today?

Unions protecting drug cheats, players deceiving fans and themselves, sacred marks falling left & right while some skunks scoot away scot-free & rich, and the captured media fawning over the fakes. All very frustrating for those who love the game beyond fantasy play. In frustration, sometimes resentment rushes out (Clark), maybe figuring players ‘made their bed,’ now they can sleep in it. Impassioned, if not haphazard.

Just playing PED-free has never been enough, Albert. There’s a price to pay for letting fear or indifference hold you back from leadership, and it’s coming due.

Whether or not Clark retracts / apologizes, Pujols has made his point and should drop the action. Persuading a jury that Albert was slandered won’t prove he never juiced, only that Jack misspoke, caused harm and is held responsible.

Before it’s in the hopper, Al might consider this brief but apropos line from Edward de Vere’s Hamlet: “the (man) doth protest too much, methinks.”

Steven Keys

Can o’ Corn

Photo Credit: Alex Rodriguez / 8-31-09 / Flickr – K. Allison / wc.cc

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