Before we organize the party for when the Yankees and the unappealing appealer, Alex Rodriguez, come to Tropicana Field on Aug. 23 (proposed: a “Come as Your Favorite Syringe” contest), let’s go to the poisoned well one more time. Baseball hammering the Biogenesis crew is, to most people, either the worst or best day in the game’s history. I don’t agree. I think all those days, years and decades of segregation were worse, and Jackie Robinson’s debut was the best. But Monday will do in a pinch. It beats the Black Sox, at least. Years and years too late, a generation tainted, baseball made its play. Far from being a dark day, I see nothing but sunlight. Then there was the added bonus of comic relief, namely assorted slugs are coming out from under the garbage pail of history to have their voices heard.
I don’t know which is funnier, The Cincinnati Kid, Pete Rose — Pete Rose! — demanding that PED users “come clean” or Mark McGwire, confessed cheater, wishing aloud that he “had never been part of it” and that he wishes something had been in place to stop him way back when. What Mac Daddy never fathomed is that there was always something in place to stop him. Character, integrity. Only that cop wasn’t walking his beat. Nor was it with Ryan Braun, or A-Rod, or any of these other flying pigs. One day, there will be lifetime bans. I can’t wait. And still, it won’t stop everyone. It hasn’t at the Olympics, or in cycling. But it will be a great day. And what will make it happen won’t be commissioner Bud Selig or the owners, new rules or no. What’s going to make real change is this light bulb that has finally gone on in players’ heads. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria’s Twitter post seems the new norm. “Today is a sad day for MLB, the fans of this great game, and all players who may have been negatively affected by others selfishness,” Longoria wrote. Selfishness. There you have it. Longoria was mild by comparison to some other major-league players, who have lauded these suspensions, denounced druggies and in some cases called for lifetime bans. There was a time when you wouldn’t have heard a peep from the players. Their union was the strongest on land, sea or air. Solidarity ruled because of that massive — and justified — distrust of ownership, the authority that, until Curt Flood happened along, possessed players forever. Go back six years, to when the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball made headlines. Players hardly made a peep, unless you count former players, especially Hall of Famers (by the way, A-Rod can kiss that baby goodbye). Now look at the nearly non-existent defense over Braun’s suspension or the proposed 211-game A-Rod suspension. I think it has finally occurred to these guys that these cheaters are taking away their jobs and their contracts, money and playoff chances — and maybe their reputation as a whole, too. A-Rod? His appeal of his suspension, which is his right, and which is sure to drag everything into the open, is more about playing out this season — he made his 2013 home debut Friday night at Yankee Stadium — to show his current employer or other suitors he could still produce after any suspension, no matter how long, even if he’s 40. It’s an audition tape, nothing more. The show might be over. Maybe the tide has finally turned. Other games lag behind. The money is driving it, but wouldn’t it be great if it worked in tandem with the realization that this game needs to police itself? Evan Longoria hit on it: selfishness. It’s that simple, as simple as character or integrity or lack thereof. You’re in or you’re out. Right, Pete?