Yesterday I anticipated that, in the interests of narrative over information, some writers would probably try to turn the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon PED suspensions into some larger story about Bay Area drug corruption with callbacks to the days of BALCO, Canseco and Bonds.
And I was not disappointed. John Shea:
The steroid cloud that once hovered over Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi and Co. in Oakland, and Barry Bonds and his BALCO brethren in San Francisco, is back by the bay.
First we had the steroid-enhanced A’s of the late ’80s and early ’90s, led by Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Then came the BALCO scandal, with Barry Bonds and several lesser Giants as the central figures. The 2007 Mitchell Report implicated players associated with both Bay Area teams, and recent years have brought more drug-related suspensions, most recently the bombshells that sidelined Cabrera and Colon in the middle of highly influential seasons.
It keeps happening, and most specifically, it keeps happening in the Bay Area, home of two baseball teams and a seemingly endless amount of PED use … The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids …
Of course, it starts with the whole sordid history of BALCO (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) and Barry Bonds and the early steroid adventures of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The Mitchell Report was littered with the names of Bay Area players; now, years later, the Bay Area is home to three players testing positive for PED use.
I don’t begrudge a writer using a framing device. But this particular framing device — BALCO, Bonds, Canseco, etc. — is highly misleading. It creates the impression that the problem is bigger than it truly is and implies connections where there are none.
The subject of PEDs in sports is rife with overheated and misleading rhetoric. What it lacks is actual factual reporting and constructive commentary and ideas. This kind of thing isn’t helping.