Dirty Laundry

ONE OF Major League Baseball’s darkest days may spawn a much brighter and cleaner future.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig put the long-awaited hammer down on 13 players involved with the Biogenesis drug case. The biggest fish in the performance-enhancing-drug pond was Alex Rodriguez. The aging New York Yankee was suspended through 2014.

Also, All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece.

Selig’s disciplinary action is the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago. It was also long overdue as the sport has been ravaged by steroid scandals for more than a decade, induced by Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

Monday’s suspensions come on the heels of Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension last month. All told, 18 players have now been sanctioned for their relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez was dealt the most severe blow. He said he will appeal his suspension, which covers 211 games. Since the arbitrator isn’t expected to rule until November or December at the earliest, Rodriguez will likely play the remainder of this season.

The other 12 players agreed to their 50-game penalties before they were announced, giving them a chance to return for the playoffs.

The only disturbing development from Monday’s discipline dishing is that A-Rod will be able to play out the season, even though his punishment was “for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.” That is serious stuff.

MLB has demonstrated that it has the toughest drug-policing policy of all professional sports, and it is now paying bountiful dividends. More drug suspensions will undoubtedly play out in the future.

Monday was not a black eye for MLB. Far from it.

Rather we view it as a precedent-setting house-cleaning of dirty laundry. It is a line-in-the-sand moment that will start to remove many of the black clouds currently hovering over baseball.