Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Why on earth would anyone be surprised by Robinson Cano's suspension for violating the league's joint drug program? How could anyone react with "wow," "holy (bleep)," or any other expression of incredulity?
The questions are not an indictment of Cano specifically. His suspension was for the diuretic furosemide, which is not a PED but can be used as a masking agent, according to a person familiar with the subject. "It's used for flushing," or getting the drugs out of your system, says the person.
In a statement, Cano claimed he has never used PEDs. "This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment," he said. "While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful."
Anyway, the reason you shouldn't be surprised by this, or by skinny Dee Gordon's 2016 PED suspension, or Bartolo Colon's 2010 bust, is that banned substances have been a part of the fabric of the game for decades. Dopers have long demonstrated an ability to evade even baseball's rigid program, and the chase continues without end. There is no such thing as a post-steroid era -- only evolving substances and improved, but still imperfect, testing protocols.
The only real question for a fan of Cano or any other suspended player should be, does it bother you?
Many players who do not use PEDs are passionate anti-steroid voices inside their own union. Many agents, executives and managers simply don't want to know (how many millions has Cano's buddy Melky Cabrera made since his suspension)? Some older baseball lifers concede that if steroids were available in their day, they would have gladly partaken, in order to make more money.
As for fans? While it's irresponsible to generalize about any large group of people, let me tell you a story.
Last week at Yankee Stadium, I was sitting in the press box when Alex Rodriguez - one of Cano's mentors - sat in a nearby luxury box with his girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. Fans below started yelling "A-Rod!" and Rodriguez waved like a returning king. A few innings later, the Yankees showed A-Rod on the scoreboard, and the crowd went crazy.
We're not here to judge. We're just here to point out that no one seemed bothered that their hero had once earned the longest PED suspension in history. And, by the way, that Biogenesis scandal that got A-Rod suspended? He never failed a drug test. He was caught because his name appeared on the clinic's records.
Cano's fans will choose whether or not to believe his denial, but it's hard to imagine that scandal will follow him through his career. He will return to the game, still filthy rich, still talented, and everyone will move on. We've seen this movie before.
Just please don't be surprised by any of it.