Bob Nightengale Is An All-Star Of Pearl-Clutching

Poe's Law, PED edition—Take a look at this lede, and just try to convince me this is real outrage and not a parody of concern-trolling:

Just the thought turns your stomach, doesn't it?

Well, brace yourselves: We could have a tainted player win the All-Star Game MVP Award again.

Yup, it's Bob Nightengale in USA Today, once again carrying MLB's water and trying to rile up apathetic fans into getting offended by suspected PED cheats being allowed to walk the streets like free men.

The impetus for this clarion call is that the the All-Star reserves contain four players with possible connections to the Biogenesis probe, an extravagant, clownish, legally dubious investigation where MLB always seems two steps behind the media. Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, and Everth Cabrera (not Everth Cabrera! she exclaimed, bustling toward her fainting couch) will all be in Queens next week, selected by their peers. But if Nightengale had his druthers, the Midsummer Classic would simply be three hours of a stationary camera focused on the four in a stockade in short center.

Now, it would be ideal if MLB could announce its findings before next Tuesday's All-Star Game at New York's Citi Field, preventing any dirty player from defacing the showcase, but that's not going to happen. MLB investigators say they aren't quite done. They need more time. They aren't about to rush the process and risk a mistake just to avoid a potential embarrassment.

(Here is where we point out that the entire process is already a mistake and an embarrassment.)

Nightengale's column manages to drag in Manny Ramirez, for some reason, and the ghost of Taylor Hooton, a high school baseball player who used steroids and committed suicide, though these two things likely have nothing to do with each other. Craig Calcaterra has already detonated the misplaced pathos of that argument.

But we're forced to return to the lede. The nut. The dreadful possibility that an All-Star could end up suspended for steroids, or even worse, an ASG MVP. Like Melky Cabrera, who won last year's award, then missed 50 games.

Did you even remember that Cabrera won last year? Did it turn the entire 2013 baseball season into, as Nightengale puts it, a joke just setting up Melky as the "punch line?" Is there anybody on this planet besides Bob Nightengale who thinks the All-Star Game MVP matters in the slightest? Was Cabrera's 2-for-3 night anywhere near as artificial as MLB arbitrarily and retroactively changing its own rules to make sure he didn't win the batting crown?

Maybe one of these Biogenesis 4 eventually gets suspended. But, then, maybe David Wright tests positive for Clenbuterol next week. There's a process in place, and it pretty clearly states you can't punish a player for a thing he might have done, no matter how much Bob Nightengale wants Bartolo Colon's pelt mounted in Bud Selig's den. The only possible reason for this scaremongering is to prime the pump for future outrage—remember when Jhonny Peralta had one at-bat and completely ruined our hallowed celebration of baseball?

One last note, and this one isn't Nightengale's fault, but it's a lovely coda of absurdity. The headline on his column contains an asterisk, an honest-to-god asterisk. But it's qualifying the word "players."

Nightengale: Tainted players* dull All-Star Game [USA Today]