The sky is falling.
That’s always the way the media reacts whenever baseball and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are linked.
For sure, it’s a big story. As first reported by ESPN, there’s a chance MLB could suspend as many as 20 players in a PED scandal linked to a Miami-area clinic.
The report names the players involved, including stars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. It also says some players could get 100-game suspensions once all investigations are concluded.
It’s a bad look for the national pastime, no doubt. But it’s not the end of the world, the end of baseball. The sport has endured so much and moved on to great success.
No one will stand with or applaud players that don’t follow the rules laid out by the sport. And those players found guilty should be punished.
Still, the reality is that fans don’t care.
Apparently, they are numb from years of PED scandals. Or at the very least, bored by it.
This steroid story, however, rings bigger for the media and the commissioner. The media because it missed the original story that was right under its nose. And Bud Selig because it came under his watch. He has a legacy to worry about.
No matter how many times this story rears its ugly head, fans don’t seem to be turned off to the sport. Plus, there’s been no fan backlash whatsoever.
Before this season, MLB enjoyed an attendance renaissance. Last season, baseball recorded its fifth-best attendance in the sport’s history. The 74.8 million fans was the best mark since 2008.
Better yet, the best five attendance marks in baseball history have come in the last eight seasons.
It tells you one thing: Fans have come to understand that there are some who will take a chance to get an advantage. But in no way does it take away from the game they love. That’s why they are still coming out to games in droves.
You can’t say that for the other major sports. Last season, the NFL logged its fifth straight season of declining attendance.
This past season, the NBA suffered its third straight season of declining attendance and is now just the fifth-most attended sport in the country. Yes, the MLS (third) and NHL (fourth) get better average attendance for its games.
The point is simply that baseball hasn’t been hurt as much as you would think given all the negative headlines about PEDs.
Plus, there’s no doubt that baseball is held to a higher standard when it comes to steroids and other drugs.
It’s amazing. Plenty of NFL players get suspended every year for banned substances. It’s an ongoing thing with that league. Since 2006, over 40 players have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Last season, 17 players got banned. Already in 2013, there have been six suspensions.
Most of the time, players get sacked for four games and then they come back. There are no big headlines. Fans, once again, don’t seem to care.
There’s currently Seattle Seahawks scandal. There have been six players suspended under coach Pete Carroll. Yet, nothing condemning the team’s recent success or its coach.
There weren’t the same headlines you see for baseball.
It doesn’t make the baseball story right. It’s just that the media seems to have accepted the NFL PED situation and not the one that’s in baseball.
In 2006, Chargers’ LB Shawne Merriman finished third in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year despite being suspended for the first four games of that season.
And even when you hear that 20 players could be suspended, don’t forget that there are 750 MLB players.
Funny thing is that most fans believe baseball was saved by the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa HR battle in 1998. Both were linked to steroids. Fans didn’t care about what they were on. They were just thrilled about the homers that seemed to be leaving the park on an almost nightly basis.
Baseball still has a big job in front of it. How will they be able to suspend players without positive drug tests? Unless the players admit to it and take responsibility, MLB will have a hard time handing out penalties.
Most people think MLB should clean up the sport, but it’s just that the media shouldn’t overreact and drag the entire sport through the mud. It’s not done to any other sport.
The sky only seems to fall in baseball. Stop it.