I wanted to make this a simple post on one of the many threads about the Braunpocalypse, but I kept getting errors. Maybe it's too long? So, now it's a fanpost.
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
One part that intrigues me in the uproar surrounding Braun's suspension is players saying things like 'he should lose his MVP' or 'he should be banned for life.' The problem is, this suspension is only about Braun. He had his own dilemma carved out with MLB, and the punishment was personally crafted for him and in no way changes the expectations for anyone else.
It also doesn't lend any credibility to MLB's testing program at all. And before you question that, think of it this way - the way the players would - does this suspension in any way increase your confidence that the other great players in the league are not using banned substances? Probably not.
Take a look at the top 10 active guys in career OPS, all of whom had productive seasons in the steroid era, and consider them individually:
Pujols. I know how I feel about him, and I've questioned his ability to heal a broken arm in three weeks. And his SI article claiming he was pure as driven show makes me think he 'doth protest too much.' Oh sure, we should believe him, but for exactly the same reasons we had faith in Braun before his failed test.
Manny. Known and punished user of several substances, including having more estrogen than Octomom.
Cabrera. The most dangerous hitter in the game right now, has all the potential to be roided - or not? The next few years should tell us, as this amazingly productive slugger passes his 30th birthday and should begin to decline. The muscles on his 6'4 frame should begin to lose their twitch, and his numbers should suffer.
Votto. He doesn't have the same power as some of these guys, but he's a great, consistent producer. Now that injuries are starting to interrupt his awesome game he has the motivation to stay on the field, and roids can help that.
Helton. Back in 2000 when 'everyone was dirty' the Toddfather had 103 extra base hits, the 5th-best season ever. He's been less impressive as the years go on, but who knows if he was clean back then?
A-Rod. Well, we know the story here.
Berkman. If there was a time that Berkman would have been motivated to juice, it probably would have been 2005-06. In 2005 at age 29 he misses significant time due to injury for the first time, and his Astros make it all the way to the World Series with users Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite as teammates. Next season he rebounds and pounds out 45 HRs. Things that make you think.
Braun. Guilty, of something. Maybe a few things. Probably not as much as some guys.
Ortiz. Big Papi's career was ending at age 33 because he's a big fat guy and he didn't have it anymore. But suddenly, he has 'it' again and is an MVP candidate at age 37. Hooray, steroids!
Giambi. Also a guilty user.
My point is this - if Braun can go from hero to zero in no time flat, so can all of these guys, and half of them are already there. Since all that the testing is proving at this point is that the testing isn't catching everyone, I have to assume that all of these guys are guilty. And I think that's what pisses players off the most. It's not Braun, it's the system.
I'm not accusing anyone on this list above, but I also wouldn't be surprised to discover that any one of them was dirty. And until baseball makes real, substantial changes to the testing program everyone is guilty by association, and I think that pisses them off the most. Their reward for being good is suspicion.
Until MLB fixes its screwed-up testing process it's just another chapter in a tale told to us by idiots, full of sound and fury, and unfortunately, signifying nothing.