Baseball has been under an extreme amount of scrutiny in the years since Barry Bonds freely usurped Hank Aaron as the home run king, despite the fact that Bonds had been clearly juicing during much of his playing career. A sense of justice was missing, and with a flurry of investigations and congressional hearings blanketing Major League Baseball in controversy, many wondered if the league would be able to stay afloat in the face of this scandal. As the latest saga regarding the Biogenesis clinic unfolds, the same questions and concerns will arise: How could the league let this happen? Why should I pay money to watch a bunch of cheaters? How can anyone fix this?
When it comes down to it, unless the league institutes harsher penalties to discourage doping (say, a one-strike, lifetime ban policy) then things aren't going to be changing anytime soon. But the real question that no one has asked yet is this: does it really matter? As we've already discussed, no one can pretend that baseball--or any professional competition, for that matter--has ever been completely clean; that idea is just propaganda that we've been fed by out-of-touch purists, and fantastical, Hollywood movies. Guess what? No one has Roy Hobbs' magic bat, and it's entirely possible that Nolan Ryan was hopped up on speed while he was working the mound.
We often forget that athletes are real people just like us, and that they too have to make a living. If they need some extra help to get out of the dregs of the minor leagues (where their pay can be as little as $1,100 a month), then so be it. We'll continue to enjoy the summer days that we can waste away on the couch watching a game, or hanging out at the ballpark with our friends. If we had to put some blinders on while we were taking in a game, then so be it. In terms of total fan experiences, baseball still gives us plenty to get misty-eyed and nostalgic about and, in the end, that's all that really matters.
Now that you've heard our thoughts, it's time for you guys to decide. What does Ryan Braun's suspension, and the rest of the controversy surrounding MLB in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal mean to you as a fan? Has the game been forever shamed in your eyes, or was this to be expected? Will we ever be able to connect with the players like our grandfathers did with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, or are we naive to hope for something so outdated like that? Weigh in on the issue in the comments section below.