MELKED MESSAGES: Melky Cabrera seemed like one of the good guys. But so did A-Rod, Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa. Photo courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It’s becoming increasingly hard for those who love the game of baseball to stay romantic about America’s pastime.

Just look at Melky Cabrera. After joining up with San Francisco and enjoying a resurgent season, he is now the next big name in an embarrassingly long list of big names to disgrace the sport. This is because he has become yet another big bat to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, this time it being unusually high levels of testosterone.

There are details to this story, but you don’t need to hear them because you’ve heard them a thousand times before. He knew he was cheating, he took a drug test, he got caught, and now he is inexplicably sorry. Same song, different dance. And the tune is quickly getting old.

In fact, when you heard the news break yesterday, your first reaction was probably, “Oh, geez. Not again!” And who can blame you? The fact that this continues to happen on a regular basis is absolutely ridiculous. More importantly, though, it is indicative of a gross systematic flaw within Major League Baseball.

Whatever the MLB is doing, whatever they THOUGHT they were doing, isn’t working and it’s time to go back to the drawing board. They can suspend player after player for 50 games at a time, but all that means is there will be more coming up, and some of those guys are going to cheat as well. So long as Bud Selig and his baseball bureaucracy continue to be one step behind the cheaters, the game of baseball will be forever tainted.

What makes the downfall of Cabrera so disheartening is his story, though. He was a super-talented player that fell off the radar a little bit. Then, he got a fresh start with a new team and bounced back. He broke Willie Mays’ and Randy Winn’s records for hits in a month. He shined on baseball’s most talent-filled stage to become the All-Star Game MVP. From a fantasy perspective, he’s been a Top-10 performer for most of the year. And now? Just another shame to the game.

You can see just HOW the steroids era has tainted baseball. It’s not just about the inflated numbers and broken records with asterisks next to their holders’ names, but about the fallen icons themselves. Can the next generation of baseball fans confidently place their trust in the game’s role models anymore? Who can you look up to and matter-of-factly say, “Well, HE doesn’t use drugs?” More and more, that number is decreasing.

In fact, the steroids era itself is evolving. To call it an era is to assume that this time will come to pass. Do we have any proof of this? Do we have any HOPE for this? The more we get blindsided by these positive tests and fallen heroes, the less confident we become when we talk about a day where baseball is no longer ruined by performance-enhancing drugs. With every suspension handed down and every positive test that pops up, steroids in baseball looks less and less like an era and more and more just like the way the game is played.

The interesting counterpoint to all this, of course, are the players who choose NOT to cheat. Simply by keeping their nose clean, otherwise average baseball players are that much closer to sport sainthood. God forbid someone comes along and has a Hall of Fame-caliber, record-breaking, ball-blasting, golden-glove career and DOESN’T cheat, every kid in America might be forced to wear the same jersey.

Which brings us back to the original point: how can the baseball faithful remain loyal to a sport filled with athletes that pervert their childhood crushes with the sport. For the longest time, the labor dispute classically labeled as the “billionaires versus millionaires” alienated more fans than any other event in pro baseball history. If players like Melky Cabrera continue to try and cheat and get away with it, the Steroids “Era” may quickly take over the top spot.

NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others, click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you follow him @bclienesch for MLB updates and other shenanigans.