Is a Player Strike Looming If MLB Raids with Mass of PED Clinic Suspensions?

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJune 7, 2013

Ryan Braun is at the center of the Biogenesis investigation and could be facing a 100-game suspension
Ryan Braun is at the center of the Biogenesis investigation and could be facing a 100-game suspensionJoe Sargent/Getty Images

It's no secret that the MLB wants to suspend players connected with the Biogenesis case, but the league could be going too far.

According to ESPN, the MLB is looking to "suspend about 20 players," but it won't be the typical 50-game suspension for a first offense.

Tony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America, reached an agreement this week to cooperate with MLB's investigation, two sources told "Outside the Lines," giving MLB the ammunition officials believe they need to suspend the players.

One source familiar with the case said the commissioner's office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players' connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.

The players could be in some serious trouble, as the MLB already set a precedent that would apply to this case and could lead to some serious punishments, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown.

Obviously the players and their union are looking to avoid potential suspensions, and stars involved with the case like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez are enraged about the media report and possible repercussions.

ESPN's Darren Rovell gives us A-Rod's response:

Myself and others are being mentioned in a media report before the process is even concluded. I would hope this thing would follow the guidelines of our Basic Agreement. I will monitor the situation and comment when appropriate. As I have said previously, I am working out every day to get back on the field and help the Yankees win a championship. I am down here doing my job and working hard and will continue to do so until I'm back playing.

While Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel documents Braun's statements:

I've already addressed everything related to the Miami situation. I addressed it in spring training. I will not make any further statements about it. The truth has not changed.

I don't know the specifics of the story that came out today. I've already addressed it, I've already commented on it and I'll say nothing further about it. I hope that you guys can respect that.

We are already seeing tensions boil over in what could be the biggest PED scandal in American sports history, and there hasn't been much done yet.

If the case continues to play out, Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times fears that we could see tension between the two sides.

If there are drug suspensions en masse, per the ESPN story, the era of good feeling between owners and union is at risk.

— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 5, 2013

Shaikin is not alone in fearing the worst. According to CBS Sports, the MLB has a "ton of witnesses," which could lead to these suspensions being as bad as ESPN reports they could be.

What's worse is that Braun likely won't get off this time, as he did in 2012.

Braun's 50-game suspension in 2012 was overturned on appeal due to, uh, collection issues. MLB was furious, fired Arbitrator Das.

— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) June 5, 2013

Let's assume that none of the 20 or so players gets off. Let's assume that the MLB suspends all of them for 100 games despite them not failing their drug tests. Let's assume that a paper trail is all it takes for a second offense when it comes to doping.

What happens next?

If relations between the MLB and the players' union continue to deteriorate and the MLB comes out on top, we could see the players' union take drastic action.

The last time we saw a dispute between the two sides like this during the middle of a season, the 1994 postseason was canceled due to a strike. I hate to say it, but we could be heading down that path again.

The players clearly see this as a violation of their privacy and the trust between the two sides that led to the good feeling between them that lasted for so long.

The MLB clearly sees this as a way to make sure that the game of baseball is played in a clean way, and to take a step toward PEDs becoming a thing of the past.

Neither side is likely to give on this issue, as it's one that affects the future of the game. With the fallout of the 1994-95 strike still being felt in the MLB community, the two sides will try to avoid a strike at all costs, but it could become unavoidable.

The dispute is still in its early stages, but as the situation develops we will have to see if this escalates into the kind of situation that can be solved only after a lengthy strike.