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More baseball talk, or more drug talk? I know which one I'd pick

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

Matt Harvey is on one channel, pitching to Giancarlo Stanton. The Indians are on another channel, trying to extend their remarkable and thrilling winning streak to eight games. The Royals are playing, too, trying to extend their even more remarkable winning streak to nine.

You know what's on MLB Network? Steroids. Biogenesis. Alex Rodriguez.

Lifetime suspensions!

Steroids have been bad for the game. But there are days I wonder if steroid talk has been even worse.

It appears now that MLB's goal (as opposed to MLB Network's goal) is to get all the Biogenesis suspensions announced at once, ASAP, and to get as many of them as possible served and done with before the end of the season (not you, A-Rod). It appears there's a chance that almost every player involved will accept the discipline and avoid a lengthy (and very possibly ugly) arbitration process.

We can only hope so.

I'm not nearly naive enough to think that this is the last time we'll be talking drugs, or that the newfound vigilance by baseball and its players union will turn the game completely clean. I'm not nearly reactionary enough to wish that any players who are unfairly charged -- or unfairly treated -- get railroaded into punishments they don't deserve.

But baseball is absolutely right in its attempt to get as much of the Biogenesis mess as possible confined to this season. With the majority of the suspensions expected to be for 50 games, get them announced this week so they can be served this season.

And with A-Rod going through "simulated rehab," as Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York called it Thursday on Twitter, get his status resolved before he takes the field in a minor-league or, dare we say, major-league game.

This will always be remembered as the Biogenesis season, and most of the blame for that goes to the players who so blatantly tried to cheat the game. As player association chief Michael Weiner said so well at the All-Star Game, "The players who deserve to get suspended will get suspended."

We won't totally be able to escape it, especially since at least two of the players believed to be involved -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta -- are with teams involved in pennant races. If they accept a suspension, they affect the race; if they fight it, that hangs over the race just as much.

And then, of course, there's A-Rod, who apparently will either accept a suspension that could carry through all of next season, or take his fight against MLB to another level.

Baseball may be able to ban him, but it won't be able to escape him as a story and an annoyance, not now and not for a while to come.

It's time to move on to the next stage, though. It's time to move past the endless threats issued through sources -- MLB wants a lifetime ban! A-Rod vows to fight! -- and get the situation more out in the open.

It's time to get some or all of those suspensions started, so we can get them finished. Because it sure feels as if all of us have been serving a season-long Biogenesis suspension.

With two months of the regular season and a month of playoffs to go, it's time to get back to focusing on baseball. The Biogenesis probe was necessary, the penalties are necessary and there's a real argument to be made that increasing future penalties for drug use is a necessary step.

But this has already dragged on far too long. We've already had far too many anonymous sources dropping far too many anonymous hints, some of them fully believable, some of them ridiculously preposterous.

We've already had too many great games overshadowed by the crawl at the bottom of the screen, screeching about lifetime bans.

The suggestion this week has been that baseball has held off the announcement in hopes that a few more hours or days would allow more or perhaps even all of the players to accept a penalty and not fight. If so, and if they're successful, it's worth an extra day or two of uncertainty.

But the best news of all is that the announcements are coming soon, perhaps even Friday. The best news is that we're nearly there when it comes to getting to the next stage, the stage of either players sitting out or cases heading to the arbitrator.

The next time Matt Harvey pitches to Giancarlo Stanton, I want to be able to give that my full attention.

 
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