ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This process is like picking at a wound. That is Joe Maddon’s comparison, and it seems apt. The Biogenesis scandal represents a traumatic moment for baseball, from players to managers to front-office personnel, and healing will come in time.
Answers will arrive soon. Monday is expected to be the moment when all players with ties to the now-closed Miami clinic, including the defiant and beleaguered Alex Rodriguez, receive their suspensions. The announcement will mark one unfortunate chapter’s close and another’s start — the movement past an embarrassing episode that will maintain a place within baseball’s memory for the distant future.
“Any time we can re-affirm to the public and to the industry within that we’re making things better, that’s always a good thing,” said Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays’ manager. “It’s a little bit uncomfortable for everybody right now, and you just keep picking at a wound. But it will go away. But you’ve got to do it to be able to move on.”
The Rays played the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. They clinched another series victory with a 4-3 win. Here and throughout the majors, however, storm clouds continued to build, the Biogenesis (B-Day) decisions drawing near.
The Rays’ reaction? Mostly relief.
“I’m glad it’s happening, I really am,” right-hander Alex Cobb said. “I think it’s about time we try to get rid of everything that is going on. I don’t think anybody really wants to have an unfair advantage when they’re facing another hitter in the box or vice-versa. It really is taking money out of other players’ pockets when guys are cheating and taking up roster spots when there are younger guys trying to come up and prove themselves that will never get the opportunity.”
That is the Biogenesis scandal’s unseen effect. Of course, it is difficult to measure how many paths were altered because Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz and others (allegedly) cheated. It is difficult to determine the amount of opportunities lost and courses changed because temptation trumped logic and common sense for a few misguided men.
Likely, there are some.
Still, this chase between the sport’s shadowy figures and those who try to police the game is one some within the Rays would like to see end. Reliever Jamey Wright, an 18-year veteran, smartly said, “I thought we were doing a good job, and there’s no in-between anymore.” Cobb had a similar amount of sympathy when saying, “Just getting them all out of the game is great.”
Unfortunately, this cat-and-mouse survival game will continue. The names will change. The strategies will evolve. As long as there is money to be made and professional security to be gained, some will push ethical boundaries to achieve goals of their creation.
But at what cost do these choices come?
That is the question that will be asked as baseball moves past the Biogenesis scandal in the coming days, weeks and years. The Steroid Era continues to linger over the game, and the Biogenesis scandal has become another sad subplot.
Look no further than the fact that no living player was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were all eligible but rejected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Now, baseball braces for another reminder of its imperfect past.
“It’s just indicative of that era,” designated hitter Luke Scott said. “It wasn’t just (Rodriguez). He’s not the only one. … There are many.
“The league, they’re trying to get things cleaned up. They said they would. They’re doing what they said.”
That action is appropriate and, for the most part, welcomed here and elsewhere throughout the majors. It remains a touchy subject among some — “I don’t really have an opinion on it,” rookie outfielder Wil Myers said. “If they did (cheat), they did. If they didn’t, they didn’t.” — but others were less diplomatic. Some view the (alleged) cheaters like cockroaches to be squashed.
The more pain the better.
“I don’t feel sorry for him,” Wright said of Rodriguez. “That man has made a tremendous amount of money playing this game and not doing it the way everybody else is doing it. I don’t feel sorry for him at all. It’s unfortunate, I guess. No one will ever remember that name for what he did on the baseball field. (They’ll remember) what he did to get an edge on everybody else. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
That’s the way this issue is. For most, there is no middle ground. For most, there is no line to be drawn. There are no half-ways or what-ifs, only exclamation points.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Maddon said of the looming suspensions. “I’m glad that it seems we’re approaching it head on in an effort to move it along.”