An MLB Culture Shift Is Not Just On The PlayersBaseball, The Cheap Seats — By Matt Whitener on August 13, 2013 at 9:30 am
A revolution could be stirring in Major League Baseball. Unlike never before, more and more players are coming forward with strong opinions on what needs to be in place to prevent performance-enhancing drug scandals, such as BALCO and Biogenesis, from rearing their heads again. Unlike when the issue originally appeared, players are not taking to a code of silence on what needs to be done to eradicate the problem. Just this weekend, Evan Longoria called out the MLB on how it has handled the Alex Rodriguez situation. On the heels of that, everybody’s superstar Mike Trout called for a death penalty for anyone who is found using drugs at any point.
Basically, baseball is getting fed up with its dirty laundry being in the streets and is beginning to make the turns it needs the most — with the players. Still, if the culture of baseball is going to truly change, everybody in its fold is going to have to take certain measures of responsibility to see it through. This also starts with those that present the game in the media as well and perhaps most importantly there. In a time where the information regarding MLB comes from so many different locations — from the players directly to creditable beat writers to administrators and into the varying sectors of the blog verse — that is a sweeping task to undertake.
This was proven perhaps most evident in the case of now-former St. Louis-based radio broadcaster Jack Clark’s statement of having direct knowledge of PED usage from Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander. Clark, a four-time All-Star himself, went on the air and made what was immediately deemed an unsubstantiated claim of having such knowledge that sparked the immediate threat of legal action from Pujols and condemnation from Verlander as well.
Yet the problem of the issue lies in how it started in the first place. If St. Louis sports had a Rush Limbaugh, it would be Clark. He has not missed an opportunity to kick a former Cardinal that may have finished his career without the most sterling of image in years. He hasn’t missed a chance to take a shot at Mark McGwire in over 10 years, and the Pujols departure and subsequent years have not been his most shining moments either. Yet, this isn’t known nationwide, mostly because Clark is not much more of a major player for any other reason than his exploits on the field. His commentary work has not consisted of many more than brash opinions. One notable source in the local media stated to me directly that he would “be surprised if he lasted for six months.” And in the end, he barely made half of that. But on the grander scale, it appears that he has an authoritative voice, and when Pujols reacted, understandably, in his own best interests, it became a legitimate situation that grew wings and took off.
The moral of the story is that if the MLB is going to repair itself, the responsibility falls on everyone who empowers the purveyors of the story of the game as well. All angles should be presented, and opinion on each rightfully should be brought as well. But how can the game reasonably ever move past its low lights if it continues to pull them into the actual spotlight? Of course the eliminating the problem at its root and following through with truly restrictive penalties is a major part of that fight, but pulling the weeds of sensationalist reporting would go a long way as well.