Monday, July 22, 2013
PEDs In Baseball? Fuck You. Go Away, You Cheaters...
With today's news that Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun finally copped to cheating via performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), and was suspended for the remainder of the season without pay, maybe we can finally say that Major League Baseball is, finally, getting close to getting it right.
But, is it a case of too little too late? I guess you'd have to ask the kids in Milwaukee.
Given how Braun kinda, sorta skipped by on a technicality before the 2012 season (the "chain of custody" defense); and, given how doggedly and vociferously he held to that defense (and with such arrogant indignity!), his carefully worded admission of some sort of guilt today cuts at, not merely the kids in Milwaukee-- but at the kid in all of us who still love the game of baseball, and want to believe in it's veracity.
As I write this, well past being a kid by any definition, I am sickened and saddened by today's event; even as I (a mere fan) am breathing a simultaneous sigh of relief.
I wanted, like all hell, to believe that Braun had been railroaded in the previous controversy! His very game looked to be so pure: Everything from his joy, to his easy swing, to the throws he made, made him a blast to watch-- so when the first allegations against him came down well over a year ago, I was among those who fell into the "no way!" camp.
Even as a small, dark part, deep inside cautioned against my flag-waving, fan reaction.
We'd been here before....
I need not lay out the litany of names: We all know them; though it is now fairly unlikely those who vote for Hall Of Fame inductions remember them now:
Most of an entire generation of stunning diamond achievement not lost; merely exposed for chicanery that, after the '94 strike, was kind of ignored by all involved.
Including US, the fans.
Yes, we as fans, are absolutely complicit.
We saw McGwire, Sosa, Bonds suddenly strike to new heights between '98-'01, and all we did was gawk at the moon, and say nothing! Yes, to baseball fans, these hallowed records toppling was kind of an awesome thing to behold in the moment, weren't they? "Hey, I watched as McGwire hugged the Maris family on September 8, 1998, blah, blah, blah..."; and wasn't that touching?
Yes, it was.
It was also a lie. A lie to the fans. A lie to history. A lie to the very game itself.
But, it was so monumental that we all just let these fake successors to Ruth and Maris just jerk off all over our faces; because we wanted baseball to be back after the strike of 4 years previous. We wanted baseball to comfort us again.
Doesn't make us (the fans) bad people; nor does it necessarily make those players involved bad people, either.
This is where it gets complicated:
You and I are just fans. Doesn't mean we're not invested; but, if you're like me, your competitive baseball career ended after high school. For the guys with better eyes at the plate, better arms on the mound, or better defensive skills, the end of high school suddenly made things all real.
At that point came the stink of money.
If you need anyone to write a detailed account of how PEDs can possibly fast-track a prospect into MLB greatness, perhaps you should check out here, as my thesis is about to possibly get a bit weird on you.
I was a very good high school athlete. Even before then, once I lost fear of a ball hitting me in the face (4th grade), I'd been good at sports. I was good/great at football, baseball and basketball all through high school.
On a football field, I could throw a ball 70 yards, on a line. On the baseball field, I could pick all the short throws at first base, and was a pretty decent hitter.
Oh yeah, I was also a flake and a bit of a stoner fuckhead. This might explain why my athletic 'career' ended soon after I fell in love with cigarettes and weed.
I'm okay with that.
Just as I am okay with the following contradictory logic in my head:
While I feel completely betrayed by McGwire, Sosa, Bonds (ecchh!), Ramirez, Braun, Rodriguez, and the like; I am A-Okay with my man, Dock Ellis.
(No kids, don't try this at home)
It has now gone into the realm of a folk tale; but, according to the late Dock Ellis, on June 12, 1970 he did something kind of incredible. This long-repeated tale has Dock, pitching that day against the San Diego Padres, throwing a no-hitter.
I mean, tripping balls, on acid.
Can't say I saw it, as I was 7; but, I wanna believe it. I really do.
As a fan.
As a so-called 'writer', I wanna analyze/explore this more against the tableau of PEDs, and the shadow they've cast over the game in the past 20+ years.
By way of full disclosure, I love booze, hallucinogenics, weed, blah blah blah.
And, I want ALL drugs out of all major sports. Not just PEDs; but also the weed, coke, speed, etc....
Yes, I admit that I am a total fucking hypocrite in the sense that I think it was cool Dock Ellis threw fastballs at the Padres while seeing trails off his hand on that long ago June day; while, in the same breath I can hit Ryan Braun (a player I root for) with some sanctimonious "say it ain't so, Joe!" utter fucking bullshit, just because of the waist deep denial I've been in.
In the end, as a fan, I am hopeful that the MLBPA finally will, at some point, embrace an aggressive set of tests to eradicate, once and for all, the doubt we all now feel, as fans, dropping just above our heads.
Fluids, hair samples, skin/tissue biopsies, etc...If you've got nothing to hide, then you've got not problem!
Lawyers, CBAs and all the rest are just smoke/mirrors bullshit! Drop your needles, level the field and make baseball pure again, right?
And, despite having said that, I still say Dock Ellis dropping and then tripping while firing zeros against the Padres is still just too badass for words.
I wouldn't recommend it; but, in a different era, with different mores, Dock was the guy to pull it off.
May he rest in peace.