7/23/2013 5:54 P.M. ET
Major League Baseball remains resilient
By Terence Moore / MLB.com
Everybody should take a deep breath, recall the slew of times baseball had a vibrant recovery after intensive care and move on with the rest of their lives. You see, folks aren't paying attention. When it comes to the Mother of All Baseball Scandals, Controversies and Debates, this Biogenesis thing should get in the back of a line that stretches from the start of the game's existence.
Or at least from 1919.
That's 1919, as in the Black Sox Scandal, involving the fixing of that World Series, and it caused many to predict that baseball wouldn't survive in the aftermath.
Baseball did. The game also did in 1947, '61, '68 and '73, when folks continued to predict baseball's demise after a little of this and a lot of that. Come to think of it, 1985 and '89 provide the best examples of where I'm going here, but I'll wait a moment before telling you the significance of these post-Black Sox Scandal years.
We also can't forget 1972, '81 and '94 (OK, I'll tell you those years involved work stoppages in baseball) when fans of the national pastime thought planet Earth would explode. And just like those strikes and lockouts, another issue had multiple lives of infamy in baseball, and let's get that one out of the way -- steroids. Throughout the first decade of this century, "PED" became synonymous with "DOA" in the minds of those who suggested the game would stumble throughout the second decade of this century and beyond in search of a final resting place.
Well, baseball's death hasn't happened, and if the past is indicative of the future, the game will have several Lazarus-like moments over the next few weeks, months, years and decades.
Which means here we go again with the epidemic of doomsayers regarding baseball.
This time, there is another PED scandal in the game, and it involves players linked to a Major League Baseball investigation involving the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida. Brewers star Ryan Braun accepted a suspension for the remainder of the season on Monday. He likely won't be the last since the Commissioner's Office is expected to deliver penalties to more than a dozen other players.
These are big names, too. In addition to Braun, a former National League MVP and five-time All-Star, there is possibly the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez who was sprinting toward the Hall of Fame with 647 home runs and a lifetime batting average of .300. Plus, there are recent All-Stars in the mix such as the Rangers' Nelson Cruz, the Padres' Everth Cabrera, the A's Bartolo Colon and the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta.
The reputations of Biogenesis-related players will be altered forever. So will pennant races and baseball's record book.
"It's disappointing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the Braun news first broke. "I mean, it's just another back eye for our game. I know this game is very resilient. There have been a lot of scandals over the years, but you know, you get tired of it."
We do, but we go on. Baseball always has, and for verification, let's start with the recent past and go in reverse order from there. Consider these happenings, for instance: Attendance zoomed to record levels throughout baseball. New television contracts were signed by MLB in general and by teams in particular for unprecedented millions. According to Forbes, the Yankees passed the Cowboys as the most valuable team in all of professional sports. The point is, those things occurred after baseball supposedly was permanently damaged by BALCO, its previous PED scandal way back in ... 2005.
Back then, Jose Canseco screamed loudly during a book in which he discussed baseball and steroids. Soon afterward, the feel-good story of 1998 didn't feel so good. Remember? Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled through that summer in pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61, but then word surfaced over the years that PEDs were involved in that magical duel between McGwire and Sosa.
So there they were in 2005, during a hearing on steroid use in baseball on Capitol Hill, where McGwire told U.S. congressmen that he wasn't there to talk about the past, and Sosa struggled during his testimony. Not good. Neither was it helpful to baseball's image that Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron's legendary 755 home run total in 2007 with BALCO hanging on his every swing.
Still, baseball prospered (see above). In fact, the Dodgers sold for $2 billion, a record for a pro sports franchise.
Let's jump to the work stoppages. Each was considered the worst thing to happen to sports, especially the one in 1994 that killed most of the season, including the World Series for the first time ever. Not even two World Wars had done such a thing.
Baseball survived The Strike. It also overcame Pete Rose's gambling saga in 1989 that captured the eyes and the ears of the world. It was awful for baseball, because it led to the game's all-time hits leader receiving a lifetime ban from baseball. But you know what? His Reds are still playing, and so are 29 other teams in the Major Leagues with most of their turnstiles still clicking at a high rate.
Before steroids provided the biggest drug scandal in baseball history, there was cocaine. Dave Parker. Keith Hernandez. Tim Raines. Vida Blue. Lee Mazzilli. Some of the game's biggest names were involved in the so-called Pittsburgh Drug Trials of 1985, and it led to the Commissioner's Office suspending 11 players, including seven for the whole season -- unless they agreed to community service and financial penalties.
Baseball survived the cocaine trials. Just as it did after the coming of the designated hitter to the American League in 1973. The game also didn't collapse after The Year of the Pitcher in 1968 forced the lowering of the mound to help spark an offensive renaissance. Then there were those who thought civilization would end as we know it after baseball expanded the regular season from 154 to 162 games in '61, when Maris used those extra games to break Babe Ruth's record 60 home run mark of 1927.
Again, baseball survived -- as it did in 1947, when No. 42 wasn't as romanticized then as it is now. More than a few doomsayers arose back then after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Instead, it opened the door for the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and others who sent baseball toward popularity it hadn't known for nearly 80 years as a white-only sport.
Then there was 1919.
Ninety-four years later, we still have the seventh-inning stretch.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.