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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Biogenesis Rabbit Hole Goes Deeper as Players Attempt to Speed Evolution

Well, Major League Baseball, you've done it again: you've managed to rebuild your credibility only to completely obliterate it less than a decade later.  The phrase "Hulk SMASH!" comes to mind when I think of the most recent debacle to plague the already ailing professional sport, though I'm not even sure that does it justice.  And just when we thought things couldn't get any worse for the league publicity-wise, new information begins to make its way to the press today that sheds light on just how much player "enhancement" has actually occurred.  The information proves startling at best and raises many ethical questions that reach far further than the confines of the game.

Brother of Kid.  Or was it Play?
What we knew up to this point was that several players in the league were using performance enhancing drugs to improve their strength and endurance on the field.  These were provided to them by a now-defunct company called Biogenesis (or perhaps through one of their certified intermediaries).  The Florida-based clinic, initially known as an anti-aging facility for leathery-skinned grandparents, had grown into a full-scale weight loss and hormone replacement therapy center.  Naturally, as science and medicine improved, the clinic was able to develop several other products and services to support their generally vague mission statement and continue to generate revenue.  Couple that with mankind's obsession with greed and success, add in MLB's looser-than-a-two-dollar-whore drug testing policy, and you get a waiting room full of professional athletes filing anonymous paperwork so they can reverse the aging process and sign that hundred million dollar deal.  Makes enough sense, right?

Tongue numbness is a common side effect of being an idiot
Until this week it did.  On Monday, Brewers star Ryan Braun received a 3.5 million dollar fine and a 65-game suspension that effectively ends his season for his involvement with the clinic.  A-Rod is sure to follow next, and many experts agree his suspension will be even longer and could carry even greater financial penalties*.  To top that off, there's the 20-some-odd players that have yet to be named that could suffer a similar fate.  You can bet it will be as stern a ruling as those passed on to Braun and Rodriguez.  Though most fans agree that they are pleased to see the league cleaning house, some are left wondering if there isn't more work left to be done.  After all, with how rapidly science is progressing, there aren't even ways to test for new enhancements, let alone to name those who are using them.

This day and age, cheating, or "performance enhancement" scandals are all but commonplace in professional sports, from Lance Armstrong's recent colossal embarrassment to whatever the flavor of the week may be.  But what is most shocking about Biogenesis is just how much further they planned to delve into cheating as not just an enhancement, but a completely new way of life.  Given enough time and coupled with the continual loosening of the reins by Major League Baseball, you can bet that the game would have gone so far down this road that purists like myself wouldn't even recognize it anymore.  Biogenesis was a pioneer in the field of body magic, second only to the good folks behind HGH, and Great Scott was lucky enough to obtain a rendering of their final unrealized concept.  Biogenesis called it "Mechanized Human Integration," a concept that combined stem cell genetic therapy with advanced robotics (see figure 7).

Figure 7, Biogenesis' unfinished symphony
"The idea was to create a non-violent Robocop," quipped Seth Green, legal counsel for Biogenesis and no, not that Seth Green.  "A seamless integration of organic organism and robot intelligence combining the best of man's natural abilities with the calculable precision of robotics, optics, and preset programming."  When he was reminded that Robocop was not violent, rather he was programmed to his operator's preset controls, Green seemed enthusiastic.  "Even more apropos in today's world.  Take a chicken for example: some eggs are good and some are bad.  But what if there was some sort of Robot Chicken?  One that had a sensor in it's butt that could tell you if an egg would be good or bad before it was laid?  Wouldn't we be obligated, as a society, to enhance our own lives with this knowledge?  Or should we continue to live in the stone age?"

Is this what baseball will look like in 2020?
Though many progressives out there say yes and then no, fans of the sport worry that too many changes could lead to a different dynamic at the stadium.  "First we let them get Lasik, then we allowed them to take Advil for headaches.  What's next?  Some sort of needle injected drug that makes you bigger and stronger?" one fan wondered.  Plain and simple: yes.  And until the day that robotic implants become the norm^, players will have to stick with bluetooth, google glass, and needle drugs to reach the pinnacle of performance.  Or they could just work out hard and use the gifts they were naturally bestowed with, like the rest of us.

*Rumored to be something in the vicinity of infinity billion dollars.
^Predicted to be sometime around 2047.