Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To Those Who Are Tired Of Hearing About MLB And Steroids

Those Who Learn, Yada Yada
There are sports that have not historically taken due diligence to the pursuit and expulsion of those who take competition beyond agreed levels.

These sports are not judged well by history, or by commerce.

To wit... boxing once ruled America's sporting awareness. The heavyweight champion of the world was a major celebrity, appeared on mainstream television and movies and news for just being his own damned self, and if he wasn't a big deal, the middleweight champion was. Most of the time, both mattered.

Then Don King and Bob Arum and other supreme parasites (supreme in that they made the earlier parasites look like angels) moved in, and the sport became, in my lifetime, marginalized to the point where human cockfighting and fake fighting (aka, pro wrestling) roll boxing in every possible measure.

Now, maybe our tastes as a nation and species would have gone this way in time anyway. But we loved boxing for centuries before the corruption got too hard to ignore.

And then we stopped.

More recently, cycling appeared to be something that was on the grow for North American sporting consideration. Lance Armstrong, aka the greatest drug cheat ever, became more popular than, well, the heavyweight champion of the world. And over time, the facade melted, the real person was shone, and since others in cycling were also dirty, we're going to go back to pretending that sport doesn't exist in America. (And, well, amen to that. Commuting is not sport. But I digress.)

Baseball itself has analogous scandals. Throwing games was fairly well tolerated, or at least thought not worth rooting out, for decades in the early part of the 20th century. PEDs date back to the 1960s, with Jim Bouton outing the practice of "greenie" abuse, which is to say, amphetamines. Luckily for the game, Babe Ruth came along to distract everyone from the Black Sox debacle, and baseball's expansion and relative parity for mid-markets fueled a '70s and '80s boom. Now, on-demand entertainment, and the inability of broadcast media to get away from live ratings, pours national and regional network dollars into the least-bad bucket. The boom is likely not long until correction, but the nature of sports in my lifetime is that when a bubble breaks, it means the sport just plateaus for a while, rather than actually contracts.

So... do not buy into the idea that MLB is prosecuting the likes of Ryan Braun out of nothing but stubbornness, or a Javert-like need to punish. (There is some of both, of course.)

The bigger issue is that corruption ends commerce. Always has, always will. And PED use, no matter how much we can try to dance around it with science or health or technology allegories, is corruption.

Life is too short to play, or watch, games that are corrupt.

Or, well, enthusiastically patronize any business that you know is corrupt.

And if you had skin in the game of MLB continuing to be a big-time league and cash cow, you'd probably nail as many PED cheaters to the wall that you could, too...

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