Does anyone care when a baseball player tests positive for performance enhancing drugs? I’m guessing probably as many people as who cared when Georgia-Pacific changed its Brawny paper towel spokes-cartoon from a blonde Tom Selick look-a-like to a young Rick Perry double.
The latest player to test positive for PEDs is newly crowned National League MVP Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers left fielder failed his drug test because, allegedly, he had elevated levels of testosterone.
Braun texted “I am completely innocent” to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the news broke on ESPN’s Outside The Lines.
Braun actually found out that he tested positive a month before he received the MVP award, but, since he appealed the results, he or Major League Baseball had no obligation to reveal the results to the public.
If Braun loses his appeal, he faces a fifty-game suspension, which will permanently damage his chances to reach the pinnacle of his sport — enshrinement in Cooperstown.
But in real life, Braun will still pocket a majority of his 160 million dollar contract, a salary that makes him the cornerstone of his franchise.
Honestly, this story is a snooze considering MLB’s long history of scandals. From the infamous 1919 Black Sox gambling scandal to the rampant use of amphetamines in 1970s to the “steroid” era — which produced the 1998 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run chase — MLB knows its sport needs these players to do whatever it takes — especially now — to generate revenue to keep pace with the National Football League and to stave off the National Basketball Association’s recent resurgence in popularity.
To illustrate why it’s necessary for not only baseball players but all athletes to cheat, let’s look at Albert Pujols and Los Angeles Angels deal.
Sports has one of the best, most teflon,
propaganda public relations machines, full of meaningless slogans that disarm the public from ever engaging in conservations that might actually hold the owners and executives accountable for their lies and wasteful plundering.
And it’s many of us, in the media, who perpetuate and disseminate the lies to keep our industry relevant, irrespective of the collateral damage.
So as a result, when major scandals break, like BLACO, the media swoops in to save the “sanctity” of these sports institutions by sending their journalist cronies to drum up the ancient mating call of “witch-hunting,” destroying the reputation of players, keeping the fans obedient, and protecting the owners’ profits so that television and internet money keeps flowing.
It all makes sense. The Angels want a return on the 254 million it gave Pujols as much as Fox wants its three billion dollar television deal to workout with the club, and the only way for all this to happen is if Pujols performs close to or at the level he did in St. Louis. No pressure Albert …
But at 32, with contract that runs through his 41st birthday, if he produces at even three quarters of what he did during his first ten years in the league, we should all assume he’s doing whatever it takes to fulfill his part of the bargain.
It’s really not a wonder why Braun decided to take a synthetic testosterone supplement — just look at his contract, endorsements, and civic stature. Ryan Braun will not be the last athlete to hedge his health for fortune and glory on the playing field, but he will have to carry the scarlet letter until the next scandal diverts our attention away from the real cheaters.