Baseball’s Pennant Chase In The Wake Of BiogenesisBaseball, The Cheap Seats — By Matt Whitener on August 6, 2013 at 6:00 am
The majority of the Biogenesis story is now in the books. The big names have been named, the sources have had the light of day shined on them and over 900 games of baseball suspensions have been dealt out. Overall, 17 players took the fall in perhaps baseball’s most page-turning scandal yet, and in the end 14 were dealt fresh penalties yesterday. Among the carnage are two former Most Valuable Players as well as three All-Stars from just a month ago. Among those that can be counted among those that “avoided” judgment today is another current All-Star, as well as a disregarded “batting champ.”
Overall, Major League Baseball’s most Eliot Ness-style day seems as a rousing success for justice, unless you’re a team whose destiny changed suddenly. Because with the suspense of what was looming having passed, there’s the actual aftershock on the diamond to deal with. Ryan Braun was the first wave of the story that changed. While one of the best players in the game was taken out into the street, tarred and feathered, it doesn’t change anything about the outcome of the year. The Brewers were in the dumps and not coming out.
The same could be said for the six minor leaguers and one free agent player that were in the undercard of yesterday’s events. However, the same could not be said about the Rangers, Tigers and Nationals, each of which came out in different directions from the day’s news. Amid the wreckage, a few players emerged intact. Gio Gonzalez’s innocence was upheld. Yet the masses took a fall and didn’t do it by themselves. Here’s how the immediate Biogenesis aftermath looks on what truly matters, and is rightfully (save for one character that decided today wasn’t his day – yet) back in the in the spotlight: the pennant race.
Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers: Easily the biggest impact on the actual season, Cruz’s decision to take the 50 games unchallenged could very well be the foot that steps on the Rangers’ last few fingers holding on to the postseason cliff. For a Texas team that was already desperately in need of production even with Cruz’s 27 home run power in the mix, there’s nowhere else to turn to now.
Yet the decision was made at prime time for Cruz himself, as he has free agency pending this winter, and while his market will be damaged now by association, at least he won’t have to worry about having even fewer suitors due to them not being sure when his 2014 will start. Looking out for himself at the end of this situation should be a surprise to no one, since that’s what got him here in the first place.
Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers: For the Tigers, this season has been about pushing last season a bit further than last, and losing an All-Star shortstop for the last two months of the season is no way to keep that going. Obviously, Peralta is not the core of the Tigers attack, and they have plenty of firepower even in his absence, but with both the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals starting to hit their stride, all hands may need to be on deck in the D.
Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres: The reigning National League stolen base king was back pacing the race again this year. He was on pace to steal just over 50 bases on the year but instead will miss the next 50 games. The Padres’ lone All-Star has so far taken the highest road of all the suspension acceptors, blaming his former representation for his usage. In the meantime, the surprising Padres will suffer through their second key loss of the season due to Biogenesis-based suspensions.
Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies: Another domino in the Phillies’ summer fall, Bastardo was the bright spot in the Phillies bullpen, with a 2.32 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings. Yet now the Phillies, who just decided to not be sellers at the break in hopes of making a push, take another loss to their fractured roster.
Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees: The fourth current or former Yankee involved in Biogenesis had been on the disabled list since late April. Not a major factor in the race or the Yankee season. However …
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: The fire rising around A-Rod doesn’t need another log thrown on it, but somehow he pulled it off, as only he could, making his season debut on the same day he received a record 211-game suspension. A suspension that he decided to put off until next year, because really, there’s no better or worse time to lose a year and half. Why not wait another few months, if for no other reason than to flip one last defiant middle finger at the establishment?
The most ironic thing about it is that the powers that be said that his appeal against his suspension today wouldn’t be heard until after the season, so there’s a chance that he could actually help the Yankees, who sit 4.5 games out but just got Curtis Granderson back this weekend and, with Rodriguez, finally have something that resembles their regular lineup for the first time all season for the final two months.
Irony is a dish best served salty.