On Monday, Eric wrote that the most "disappointing and disheartening" part of the Ryan Braun saga is the way that sportswriters will react to it. Eric "detest[s]" the moralizing of commentators "far more than Braun's anything-to-get-an-edge approach to baseball," and he and like-minded individuals devote nearly every tweet on the subject to blasting the "moralizing, sanctimony, demonizing, hand-wringing, dumping-on," etc.
My reaction to this is "Sure, but what about PEDs?" It isn't very compelling to respond to something by mostly saying "this related thing makes me so mad!" And when what you're mad about is people being mad, and what you're denouncing is denunciations, there is bound to be some irony, or at least rhetorical chaos.
My take is that both sides of the issue, the baseball is stained forever crowd and the LOLGaryCohen crowd, are mostly just banging pots and pans, making it hard for anyone to think about PED use in an Amazin' Avenue-like manner. If the story is Ryan Braun and Steroids, the story should be Ryan Braun and Steroids, it shouldn't be Look At What All These Idiots Are Saying. If that was the go-to, how would we talk intelligently about anything?
Unfortunately, I am not the Very Serious Person to save the day, because I mostly don't know what I'm talking about. I am a product of the culture where we all just yell. But I've come up with some propositions that, to my mind, are each more worthy of debate than almost anything in Monday's comment section. I have no idea if some of these are true. I'm pretty sure that others are. Help me think about it. Even when we can't know the answer, we can still think about it.
Proposition 1: PED users have a significant advantage in the game of baseball.
Proposition 2: PEDs commonly used by MLB players pose serious risks to players' health.
Proposition 3: PED users exert pressure on the general player population to close the gap by using PEDs.
Proposition 4: PED use among major league players is linked to use in younger players, where there are greater health risks.
Proposition 5: Not that many players use PEDs any more, so the ones who do gain an anomalous advantage.
Proposition 6: PED use is cheating.
Proposition 7: The advantage gained from PED use is more substantial than from other historic forms of cheating.
Proposition 8: The list of banned substances is a largely rational choice of drugs to prohibit.
Proposition 9: The 2005 anti-doping framework was agreed upon fairly and not unduly hoisted on the players.
Proposition 10: Most players would prefer an all-clean league to a league allowing PEDs.
Proposition 11: The post-2005 environment is very different than the pre-2005 environment, and we should separate the debates.
Proposition 12: Moral outrage over the 1990s scandals was largely responsible for a positive change in PED policy.
Proposition 13: The game would be better if no one used PEDs.
Again, I have no idea if most of those statements are true, but full disclosure: I have opinions, too! And they are bound to have affected my choice of debating points.
Namely (and you can skip this) I think that today's PED users (but not the 90s kind) are jerks in the same banal way that schoolyard cheats are jerks, and I hope potentially dangerous drugs are drummed out of the game, and I think the best way to do this is through constant testing and lengthy suspensions. So I'm feeling fine right now, because it's a process, and I think it's underway. I am not outraged (though Braun can go swallow a stepladder), and I'm not worried about the game.
I am worried that I have something wrong, though, since nobody's helping me think about it.