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August 5, 2013

Manufactured Runs

Biogenesis and Baseball's Post-Human Present

by Colin Wyers


The announcement was mostly anticlimax. Twelve players accepted 50-game suspensions for their involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, and Alex Rodriguez is looking at a longer suspension pending appeal. Some of the names are a surprise, but not the name that everyone is talking about.

The Biogenesis story has, admittedly at the urging of MLB, become primarily about Alex Rodriguez and his massive contract, and Ryan Braun and his improperly handled sample. It is understandable, in that they’re both big stars and the storylines around them are indeed compelling. But there’s a larger story here that’s mostly being missed.

What Biogenesis revealed is that there were a collection of major-league players who had found a way to violate the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement without being detected during the ordinary enforcement mechanisms of that agreement. Now, ignore for a second that some of those players have stuck in the craw of MLB for some time now. If Biogenesis is the only such clinic, then… well you don’t really have to finish that thought, because of course it isn’t. Biogenesis is simply the one that’s the worst at keeping its dirty laundry out of the public eye.

MLB’s conduct against these players becomes both more and less understandable in that context. If you view Biogenesis as not an isolated incident, but as an indicator of a systemic problem that threatens the integrity of the entire JDA, then it’s a much more serious issue than two highly paid jerkweeds being jerkweeds. In that context, MLB’s enthusiasm for punishment makes quite a bit of sense.

But if Biogenesis warrants swift and severe action from MLB, it would also seem to call for sustainable action. If the integrity of the JDA is threatened by Biogenesis, then the most pressing question facing MLB is how to locate other clinics that supply players with substances that violate the JDA but are undetectable in the drug testing regimen. When seen in that light, it seems that MLB’s behavior is counterproductive at best.

There’s a reason that prosecutors tend to be forgiving to drug users in order to get at drug dealers. MLB, instead, has made deals with drug dealers in order to get at drug users. Then MLB went after those users at, at the very best, the absolute limits of due process under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the JDA. Nothing MLB has done here is a long-term sustainable way of handling these kinds of cases in the future.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (08/05)
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Manufactured Runs: SAB... (08/02)
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Manufactured Runs: SAB... (08/13)
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Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (08/06)

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