Commentary

Biogenesis scandal set to boil over

We could be on the verge of the biggest drug bust in sports history

Originally Published: June 4, 2013
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

Since the day in January when the name "Biogenesis" first appeared in the vocabulary of baseball, we've been waiting for this news, this story, this headline:

BASEBALL SEEKS TO SUSPEND (FILL IN THE NAME)

Well, now we can fill in those blanks, can't we? With the names of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, just for starters. But that's not all. The only reason to stop at those two names is that the rest won't fit in a single headline.

What ESPN's T.J. Quinn, Mike Fish and Pedro Gomez are reporting is the list of players who face possible suspensions is actually much longer than the dynamic duo of Braun and A-Rod.

[+] EnlargeRyan Braun
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsBraun is once again at the heart of a PED scandal.

Longer than a lineup card. Longer than two lineup cards. Possibly even longer than that.

And if you believe the rumor mill, Braun and A-Rod might not even be the biggest names on that list. But we're getting way ahead of ourselves on that front.

Where this goes from here all depends on baseball's new best friend, Tony Bosch. He's the human smoking gun in this case, the kind of source that rarely comes along when performance-enhancing drug rumors sweep this beautiful land we live in.

Twenty-five years after the Bash Brothers, 15 years after Roger Maris' record fell, we know all too well that PEDs have forever altered the landscape of baseball. But what we know about most of that period is fuzzier than we'd like to believe, just because we've had so few facts with which to work.

In the beginning, there were no failed tests, no announced suspensions, no proof, practically no rules for that matter. Just a giant guessing game played by amateur detectives from coast to coast.

And, of course, by that best-selling author, Jose Canseco.

But now, along comes Bosch, a man who took notes, wrote down names and may suddenly be on the verge of actually naming those names. If the price is right. If there's enough in it for him.

Just take a second and try to digest what that means. If indeed this man is about to tell all about Biogenesis and its world-famous customers, this could make BALCO look like a teenage party bust.

A 100-game suspension for Rodriguez? If baseball were to go that route and then survive the inevitable appeal, it would be, essentially, a career-ending sentence for a man who once appeared to be the heir to Barry Bonds' throne.

A 100-game suspension for Braun? If that were to happen, the damage to Braun's reputation and, more significantly, to the entire Milwaukee Brewers franchise, would be almost incalculable.

Remember, it was just a year and a half ago that the Brewers waved goodbye to Prince Fielder and wrapped their arms and their whole franchise around their left fielder. So if he goes down, the Brewers will sink right along with him.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Elsa/Getty ImagesWho knows when we will see A-Rod on the field again?

Beyond those two, there's no use in speculating about who else might show up in Bosch's Notebook of Doom. You've seen the names that have already been reported. There could be more where those came from. Many more.

If baseball obtains all those names, and Bosch supplies proof that he sold those players the types of substances his notebooks suggest he did, then this becomes the biggest drug bust in the history of sports. Period.

It's possible that only a handful of those names will be players who have ever tested positive. For anything. But remember, that's not a factor in a case of this sort. Not anymore.

These days, the commissioner's office is empowered by baseball's Joint Drug Agreement to suspend players without a positive test. All it needs is proof that they used a banned PED, or possessed one, or did business with someone like Bosch and then lied about it when confronted.

So if baseball does make a deal with this guy, it had better hope he kept a few receipts. "Proof," after all, is a fundamental concept of truth, justice and the American way. Which means it is not to be taken lightly.

And that, friends, is why the headline says baseball will seek to suspend these players -- not that it is going to announce those suspensions in the next 15 minutes.

Now if you think this is the kind of blockbuster that will clean up sports forever, you're dreaming.

"Unfortunately," said a team executive Tuesday night, "there are still going to be guys who think they can get away with it."

But the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and the greater the impact on everyone who contemplates whether or not to dare to cross that line.

Well, if Tony Bosch sings the song that baseball firmly believes he's about to sing, some of the biggest names in this sport could pay a monstrous price. And the aftershocks will be rattling baseball's Richter Scale for generations to come.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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