Don't care about Braun and PED chatter? If you're a baseball fan, you should
Say the words "steroids", "PED's" or "human growth hormone" around any gaggle of baseball fans and you'll probably see more than a few eyes glaze over, or perhaps roll.
And, the latest round of Ryan Braun/suspension chatter s being met with a collective shrug of the shoulders by some who are fatigued by its resilience and bored by the lack of any real news (the only relevant development this time around is Tony Bosch's decision to cooperate--all else is premature).
Don't care? You should, if you're a fan.
First, Milwaukee baseball fans are connected, like it or not, to Commissioner Bud Selig by geography and franchise genealogy. Go anywhere and, when a fellow seam head finds out where you're from, you're likely to end up chatting about Selig's stewardship of the game. Happened to me the other day in Chicago, and it's occurred before. Milwaukee baseball fans wear Selig like a suit. His accomplishments are many--expanded playoffs, inter league play, All Star game revisions--but the two he's proudest of are labor peace and drug testing. The continued Biogenesis probe could damage both.
Grantland's Jonah Keri says baseball looked the other way as steroids proliferated (admit it, we all did, media included) and that the game has since changed its tune but that the Bosch probe is different. "There's a difference," he writes, "between respectable vigilance and taking unsavory shortcuts in an effort to mount players' heads on the wall." All of this, he says, could be a manifestation of a commissioner who wants to change his legacy from that of the man who headed up the game during it's chemically altered worst to that of a man who left it pure.
What's the problem with that? Well, there's that second thing Selig is so proud of, that being labor peace. NBC Sports columnist Joe Posnanski thinks MLB's approach in the Biogensis probe and it's reliance on Bosch threatens the trust built with the players union, with possible blowback when it comes time to cut a new collective bargaining agreement. We haven't had a strike since 1994 but Posnanski says the latest investigation has a air of "screeching desperation" that might already have the union at DEFCON 3.
Don't care if Braun cheated? Don't give a flip of players juice? That's fine. You'll care, though, if this dust-up leaves bad feelings, mistrust, and new animosity between owners and players to the point where talk of performance enhancing drugs is replaced with the words "lock-out" and "strike".
I'm a Bud Selig fan. He brought baseball back to Milwaukee. He loves the game and made it better on his watch. He has a right to cultivate his legacy, and the sport, has an obligation to find cheaters. It has a duty, though, to be fair to all involved in the process. A shabby probe that doesn't pass the smell test could sour fans, call into question the game's drug policies and destroy the labor tranquility Selig adores.
Would this be worth that?