Earlier today, my morning Timehop alert reminded me of this tweet from exactly four years ago today. With all the recent Biogenesis talk — especially the speculation about Bud Selig planning to drop a nuclear bomb on Alex Rodriguez — this four-year-old post on my old blog is oddly relevant. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I wouldn't change a word, but the sentiments certainly hold true:
I don’t care. I really just don’t care.
About what, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Earlier today, The New York Times reported that Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was among the Major League Baseball players who reportedly testified positive during the 2003 survey testing. And how did the Times learn this? Someone or ones, presumably a lawyer involved in the fight over the government’s seizure of the list of names, leaked Ortiz’s name to a reporter. Once leaked, it dribbled out, because that’s what leaks do – they dribble.
So, as a baseball fan, what am I to take away from this revelation? What should I have learned as a result of this new information? Let’s see … some baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs at some point during their careers? Gasp! An athlete with a powerful incentive to do so took advantage of a scientific advance to try and gain an advantage? Insert sharp intake of breath here.
Look, beyond sticking our collective noses into other peoples’ supposedly-dirty laundry, there is nothing new we can learn about this story. And beyond specific names, there is nothing new that the Times or any other media outlet can tell us. Does the MSM realize that, at this point, they’re the only ones who care about this story? That baseball fans, if they ever did, simply don’t care anymore?
And why should we ever have cared anyway? Have a look at this list, and see if you can figure out what everything on it has in common:
- Outlawing the spitball
- Integration of African-American players
- The rise of Latin-American players
- Artificial turf
- Changing the height of the mound
- The designated hitter rule
- Tommy John surgery
- The rabbit ball
- Increasing specialty of pitching roles
- The Asian migration
Figured it out? Every single thing on that list had an effect on the game in one way or another. Whether a rule change, enhancement or dilution of the talent pool, or a method of performance enhancement, it changed the context in which we understand the game. Where 25 wins was good, now 15 is. Where 300 innings was a stud, now it’s 200. 30 HR became the new 15, and 50 the new 30. The great joy, and great challenge, is that the game is always changing – whether for the good or the bad is often in the eye of the beholder.
So, again, why should I care whether David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, or Johnny Backup-Infielder used a performance-enhancing drug back in 2003? Stars used them and became greater stars. League-average players used them, spiked to career years, and then fell to earth just as quickly. Scrubs used them, and still stayed scrubs. Hitters used them, but so did pitchers, so who really had the advantage? They were illegal, but they weren’t against the rules of the game. We watched. We were entertained. We didn’t get hurt, apart from whatever collective outrage we’re supposed to be feeling due to being robbed of our innocence. I sure didn’t get unsightly scabs when Jose Canseco was jabbing a needle in his ass. No, I got a mammoth home run deep into the 500 level of the SkyDome, while Jose got man-boobs. I gotta tell you, I’m okay with that trade, and apparently he was too.
Nowadays, we – the fans – are protected. There’s random testing, escalating suspensions, and public vilification, right down the bottom levels of the minors, because everyone knows that 16-year-old Dominican outfielder is supposed to understand all the nuances of this issue just as well as the 16-year major league veteran. Now it’s against the rules. Just like the all-star game, this time, it counts, and now if you get caught, then you’re potentially an idiot and you may just deserve my scorn. Yes, I’m looking at you Manny. But David Ortiz? I have no scorn for him. He was just 1 out of, what, 103 and that was just the ones that they caught? He was doing what the cool kids were doing, and let those among you who’ve never fallen prey to that mistake throw the first stone, or take the first hit off the bong, whichever you prefer.
No, I’ll save my scorn for the person or persons who are responsible for leaking these names, for violating a judge’s order sealing the contents of the list. I’ll save my scorn for the editors at the Times, and at ESPN, and any other media outlet who simply can’t recognize that they’re not uncovering the next Watergate here – they’re just helping someone with an agenda to break the law. They’re just creating noise that I have to slog through to find out about today’s hot rookie who made their debut, today’s fantastic pitching performance, today’s great catch, today’s guy who ran out the play that looked like a sure out and beat the throw at first. Those things, I care about. This? I’m sorry, but I just don’t care.