MLB Suspends Jhonny Peralta

MLB: World Series-San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers

On Monday, MLB finally let the other shoe drop and suspended more than a dozen players for their connection to Tony Bosch’s BioGenensis clinic. I won’t rehash the story, you know the deal. We learned today that Peralta was suspended and accepted a 50 game ban for his connection to the PED distributor Bosch. Barring rainouts, he will be eligible to return to the field on September 27th in Miami, ironically, for the final 3 games of the season. At this point, we have no specific information about what evidence MLB found regarding Peralta  but he issued this statement:

“In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret. I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers’ organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension.

“I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost.”

The direct impact on the Tigers is clear. Peralta was having a great season, providing 126 wRC+ (what’s wRC+?) and 3.7 WAR (what’s WAR?), essentially functioning as the team’s second best everyday hitter overall. The Tigers have baseball’s best offense and the loss of Peralta isn’t a crippling blow, but it certainly isn’t ideal. He’ll be replaced with defensive wizard Jose Iglesias who should be able to make up a decent amount of Peralta’s lost value with his defensive skills because we’re only talking about 50 games.

Now we know. The uncertainly surrounding his situation is over and we can get on with our lives. Peralta did something against the rules, it seems, and will take the punishment for that infraction. I’ve been outspoken about this issue over the last few months in saying that the evidence that has been made public is extremely flimsy, but hopefully we’ll be able to get a better idea of what MLB has on these players that resulted in these suspensions now that the reckoning has come. I’ll reserve full judgement on their character until everything is made public.

For now, I’ll say this. Jhonny Peralta broke the rules. He cheated. I don’t know what he took. I just know his actions were enough to result in a suspension from MLB. But we should remember that taking PEDs isn’t some sort of giant affront to the Gods. These aren’t players who harmed others, drove drunk, or did anything to endanger anyone. They didn’t steal or abuse. They cheated, but we’re talking about taking a drug to make yourself better at a sport. Let’s not lose our heads.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m defending Peralta. I’m not. He did something wrong and it will hurt his team. My team. But I don’t think he’s a bad guy because of it. I imagine a lot of fans, if given the chance to take an illegal drug that would turn them into superstar athletes, would hardly think twice.

The only reason I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t is because I’m terrified of side effects and would never be able to take PEDs without giving myself debilitating panic attacks. Aside from that, I understand the temptation.

I’m not sure how much PEDs help baseball players. It’s not really a game of strength. I imagine in helps, but I don’t think you can take a nobody and make him  a star with a few injections. Maybe it turns a AAA guy into someone who sticks in the show, but that’s about it. Peralta deserves what he is getting, but the reaction to PED use is really disproportionate to the offense.

This is a sport that has no punishment for drunk driving. It’s a sport that glorified the long ball after the 1995 strike. I want PED users punished and I want these punishments to deter others. It’s good for baseball, and it’s especially good for young athletes who won’t damage their bodies taking dangerous drugs. I don’t want sports to be a chemically enhanced freak show, but where is the line? Countless pitchers have a ligament from their leg implanted into their elbow. What about cortisone?

We’ve created an atmosphere that is so competitive and so cutthroat that guys will do anything to get ahead. Millions of dollars are at stake. I know people are upset about the validity of records and the tradition of the game, but some of our most hallowed records were set in an era in which only white people were allowed to play the sport. Not everything is so sacred.

I guess my point is this. These guys are rule breakers. They’re not horrible criminals. They are people with flaws who sometimes give into temptation and skirt the rules to get ahead. That’s wrong, but we’re not talking about a deadly sin here. The problem is with us if we expect our stars to perfect. If we demand perfection, we are asking to be deceived.

Give these guys a break, They’ll do their time. They’ll take the hit. They’ll be tested and scrutinized more in the future. That’s on them. But spare me the moralizing. You’ve all done things that were less than honorable.

What actually gets me isn’t that Peralta cheated (and I honestly don’t care much about the rest of them). What gets me is that Peralta put the Tigers in this position. Maybe the drugs made him better, but they also put him at risk to miss 50 games and the team will miss him for those 50. They probably don’t need him, but they might. It’s not really like he quit on us, but it’s a little bit like that.

I’m mad at him, but I forgive him. And I understand, but I’m furious.

I really don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. I’m upset for the career minor leaguers who did it clean and can’t break in, but I’m also really envious that they were blessed with enough talent to make it that far. Peralta’s the bad guy, but he’s not a bad guy. He made a very human mistake, he apologized, and took full responsibility.

It really comes down to this. He shouldn’t have done it, but it’s not as bad as most people will make it out to be. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way I lost my innocence. It’s probably been eroding for a long time. But I don’t have it in me to get worked up about this. Professional athletes are guilty of so much worse, why bother drawing our lines in the sand on this one issue? Where was the outrage about players who got arrested for DUI? How about the players who committed violence against women? Heck, what about the players who get in fights on the field?

I guess what I’m saying is I’ve outgrown getting angry just for anger’s sake. BioGenesis has been more annoying than anything else. I want it to be over and I don’t really care what the outcome is. I want the focus to be on the field. Peralta is to blame for taking himself off the field, but that doesn’t mean we need to follow him around while he’s gone and call him names.

I don’t expect people to be perfect and I won’t fault them when I find out they’re not. Maybe I’ll feel differently in 10 years and I know I felt different 10 years ago, but this is just part of life you have to accept. People do bad things and if you get worked up about all of them you’ll miss all the good things people do. Yeah Peralta did something stupid, but instead of spending our time on that, why don’t we glorify someone who did something great?

That’s what I’ll be doing and I’d love it if you would join me.

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