A mass Biogenesis suspension would be a massive fail

176 Comments

MLB will let Tony Bosch off the hook, if he just gives them A-Rod and Braun.

That’s the crux of Tuesday’s Outside the Lines article. Tony Bosch, the fake doctor who ran the Biogenesis Clinic exposed by the Miami New Times earlier this year, merely has to tell MLB everything that went on at his defunct business. In return, the league will drop its lawsuit against him; “indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation; provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that may bring charges against him.”

So, forgive the dealer, punish the users.

I’m good with suspending steroid users, but I’m not comfortable with that kind of arrangement. I’m also not comfortable with punishing players who never failed steroid tests, and I’m simply not interested in seeing a couple of dozen major leaguers benched for a big chunk of the season so that Bud Selig can prove his point. It’s not cleaning up the game. It’s a power play, and the real losers in all of it are the fans rooting for the teams affected by the suspensions.

What’s more, the OTL report indicates that the league will aim for 100-game bans, rather than the 50-game standard:

One source familiar with the case said the commissioner’s office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is that the players’ connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.

Good luck getting that to stand up. Like it or not, the CBA says its a 50-game suspension for a first offense. The idea that lying about their PED usage constitutes a second offense is laughable.

MORE: A-Rod, Braun among those MLB will reportedly suspend for Biogenesis link

This whole thing stinks like something long dead. I don’t like steroids, but I don’t want to see the season ruined because a cluster of users were outed for something they did the year before. It’s not like these 20-25 players that MLB might try to suspend are the extent of cheaters around the game. There are at least dozens and maybe hundreds more with secrets best buried who were merely lucky enough to be dealing with people smarter than Bosch. Almost all of the players associated with Bosch have strong Miami connections; this is just one subset of the players who have tried to game the system by getting ahead. Even if they deserve their punishments, the fans don’t.

In trying to suspend several stars, none with positive tests, MLB has a lot to lose and very little to gain here. Bud Selig believes Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun have embarrassed the game with their previous evasions and may think this grand gesture will add to his legacy. In so doing, he’s getting into bed with a sleazy criminal possessing pretty much zero credibility. Besides the lawyers looking at a grand payday, I can’t imagine anyone coming out a winner in this.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.