Major League Baseball is finally serious about their performance-enhancing epidemic.
And while it's bad news for notable sluggers Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and dozens of other players with a bullseye on their backs, it's great news for America's past time and millions of its fans.
For decades, the MLB has tiptoed around the unquestionable issue of performance-enhancing drugs that overtook the league in the early 2000s and tarnished the reputation and legacy of many of the sport's all-time greats. All too often, justice doesn't catch up to these cheaters until it's way too late.
Heck, it even took Congress stepping in with the Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds fiascos to see any sort of large movement for justice—as if the U.S. government doesn't already have enough on their plate.
Now, it seems the MLB has launched a massive investigation into the Biogenesis clinic and founder Tony Bosch that will drastically alter the landscape of cheating in baseball and will set the standard for how punishment will be drawn-up and executed.
The first domino fell on Monday. It was then that the MLB announced Braun—the 2011 NL MVP—would be suspended for the rest of the season. Almost simultaneously, Braun publicly admitted to the use of PEDs after a scandal last offseason that culminated in his repeated denial of any wrongdoing.
Braun was one of 15 players listed in an inves- tigation of Bosch's clinic, with the other notable player being Rodriguez.
A-Rod, an all-time great slugger for the New York Yankees, could soon see his nickname changed to "A-Fraud" or "A-Roid." After Braun's suspension, CBS Sports reported that Rodriguez is "all but assured" of a major ban that would trump the 50-game suspension typically given to first-time offenders.
Rodriguez admitted in 2009 to using steroids between the 2001 and 2003 seasons when he broke out as a game-changing home run hitter with the Texas Rangers. He was not suspended, but after coming up on the radar yet again with shocking allegations that Bosch personally visited A-Rod in the middle of a playoff series in 2011, the MLB isn't happy.
Commissioner Bud Selig and much of base- ball's brass had hoped that A-Rod's long-time secret revealed in 2009 was old enough news to avoid defacing one of the sport's biggest names, but it's apparent after these latest developments that the Yankees slugger will likely join Braun as the lying scoundrels who the MLB will make into an example to better their sport.
And it's about time. As much as I enjoyed watching Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds crush baseballs, the sport needs its integrity back.
Suspending Braun, A-Rod and the rest of the cheaters is just the first step in major reform coming to Major League Baseball. The next step is a strict, unavoidable testing system that will prevent these players from ever getting an unfair advantage.
It's a trivial time for the sport of baseball, which gets in the national spotlight for negative reasons more so than positive reasons. A game that was built on integrity, sportsmanship and class has now become manipulated.
It may tarnish much of the last 20 years and some of the greatest to ever swing the bat, but would you rather blindly proclaim the evidence isn't there or make a sweeping reform to give the MLB every chance to return to a prideful state?
The MLB struggled with this question for years, and it finally seems as if they're committed to restoring the integrity of America's past time.
Steven Cooke is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at scook21@ utk.edu.