Marc Ambinder

Doping: Do we care?

Seems like, in major league sports, everyone dopes. And no one, except people who are paid to pontificate about such things, seems to care.

Take together the perceptions that:

(a) the public does not show its outrage by refusing to attend baseball games;

(b) corporations voice displeasure by refusing to buy ads against televised baseball games;

(c) contracts can be negotiated that allow players earning tens of millions of dollars to be penalized only marginally if they're caught doping;

(d) the redemption story is financially valuable, too;

and it stands to reason that players like Ryan Braun, a.k.a. the Hebrew Hammer, would so casually lie about their doping, even when Major League Baseball almost certainly had more than enough evidence to throw him out of the game for good.

Instead, he'll be back next year.

I've read that doping is more of a scandal in baseball than it is in football because baseball is a game where statistics are part of its historical fabric. Every fan of my era — I'm (egads) 34 — knows how many home runs Roger Maris slugged, or how many games in a row DiMaggio hit in, or how many wins Cy Young bagged.

There's some truth to this, but by the advent of the doping scandal era, I think the fan base in baseball no longer cared about the game's history or stats, or baseball cards, or records.

Announcers, commentators, veterans, and ex-players, those who dominate the media scrum, certainly do.

But the people who pay money to fund the sport see baseball players as marketable celebrities first, athletic specimens second, and role models — a distant third.

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