Does the Biogenesis Scandal Affect Baseball This Season?
It will clearly be a story for the sports history books, although not a good one, as people in the future look back and wonder why Major League Baseball suspended almost 20 professional, minor league, and free agent players in the wake of the Biogenesis performance enhancing doping scandal. Now, almost a month after the suspensions were formally announced, the media feeding frenzy has died down some, and most teams have been involved in the business of playing baseball. So, what, if any effect do the scandal and suspensions have on this season of baseball?
As far as the biggest name involved in the scandal goes, there hasn’t been much of an effect unless you count the increased boo-ing. Alex Rodriquez of the New York Yankees is allowed to play until his appeal hearing, and in fact played his first game of the season on the day his 211 game suspension was announced. His suspension hasn’t created much of an impact on his team yet, because he’s recovered from his hip surgery and is still hitting homers. The place where it might hurt is in the Yankee’s wallet, as Rodriguez is still set to be paid $114 million from his contract that runs through 2017. He’s baseballs highest paid player, the question is, “Is he worth it?”
Out of all the suspensions, most in the 50-game range, only three affected players who were an everyday part of their respective teams. The Detroit Tigers lost Jhonny Peralta, the Texas Rangers are without Nelson Cruz, and the San Diego Padres are doing without their shortstop, Everth Cabrera. Most agree that for the Tigers, the loss of Peralta was a big one, and they are having a hard time dealing with the hole left by his suspension. Peralta’s batting average, on-base plus slugging stats, and total WAR value to his team are all high. In the case of the Rangers, the loss of Nelson Cruz has also put them in a desperate situation. He was their best home run hitter and RBI player and the team has struggled to find an effective replacement. Cruz could be eligible to return if the make the playoffs, but it’s a question of even making it, and if the team would take him back anyway. The Padres have no real playoff chance, so their season without Cabrera won’t really affect their standing, although it could affect the remaining teams they play in the National League West and Central divisions.
What about the other suspended players? Truthfully, many of their suspensions didn’t really affect their teams or baseball one way or another. Some had already been out injured, many were in the Minor Leagues, and one was a free agent with no team attachment. Overall, as the season heads into playoff time, the suspensions won’t likely have a part in affecting any of the teams that will make it. So the question remains to be asked, “What message did the suspensions send, if any?” Did the actions taken by MLB help send a message that they are serious about cleaning up baseball? Did the overwhelmingly negative publicity toward cheating players such as A-Rod and Ryan Braun create an impact on players that were up and coming and now may turn their noses up at performance enhancers in order to have a great career? And did the entire scandal make medical “professionals” similar to Tony Bosch of Biogenesis decide that the possibility of exposure wasn’t worth the risk of providing illegal drugs to professional sports players? We can only hope that the scandal creates a positive outcome for America’s Favorite Pastime.