The Giants just presented us the full-flawed potential of this PED-infected season.
They didn't do it on purpose, necessarily. They're not a bandit franchise, per se.
But, not long after the Barry Bonds asterisk era, the Giants have once again set themselves up for the worst-case vision of baseball taint.
Let's flash forward to early October, Giants vs. L.A. in Dodger Stadium, at the climax of 162 grueling games.
Imagine Guillermo Mota, little more than a month after finishing his second PED ban, on the mound for the Giants in a key spot, holding the fate of the N.L. West in his hands.
Picture Mota vs. Matt Kemp in the seventh inning, runners on base, tie score.
Mota isn't a great player, but manager Bruce Bochy obviously trusts him and wants him in the bullpen; that's why the Giants activated Mota on Tuesday (to replace Jeremy Affeldt, who is on paternity leave) and got him to Houston ASAP, with the Giants holding a 21/2-game lead over the Dodgers.
It can't be denied: The Giants are in this position partly because of the 159 hits and 84 runs they got from Melky Cabrera before his own PED suspension.
Figure that the lead narrows in the coming weeks, and it goes down to the last series in L.A. Not out of the question at all.
Then imagine Mota striking out Kemp to help save the day and win the division. Remember that Cabrera's suspension ends after five games into the postseason, if the
And the Giants would be on the verge of the greatest/worst proven PED-cheat season in baseball history.
(Ryan Braun's overturned PED suspension puts Milwaukee's trip to the NLCS last year in hazy territory, too.)
Really, it might not even take all the fall drama for the Giants to create a permanent kind of twisted history.
The Giants could already be there, given the elevated play (and testosterone) of Cabrera, who might win the N.L. batting title in absentia.
If they win the N.L. West -- and possibly go deep into the playoffs -- they will have done it with large help from at least one chemically aided player.
But you can argue that the Giants aren't to blame for Cabrera's drug use against the landscape of this drug-addled sports culture.
They didn't know, and they have given every signal that they're distancing themselves from his guilt.
The Mota reactivation, however, is another story altogether, and now the Giants are almost fully complicit.
More to the point, with the bullpen looking a little thin these days, the Giants are counting on him.
When Mota was suspended in May, I argued that he should never wear a Giants uniform again. Now, with Cabrera's suspension still fresh, I think Mota's return is fraught with PED cynicism and implied PED guilt.
The Giants had the chance to walk away from him after two suspensions, and instead they embraced Mota, endorsing his excuse that he only accidentally tested positive because he drank children's cough medicine.
It's a potentially credible excuse. But the chemicals are on the banned list for a reason, and Mota's multiple failed tests are a sign that he is not an innocent here.
Clearly, Mota, 39, is a valued member of the Giants' clubhouse and is considered a mentor to many of the younger players. That's how he was viewed during the 2010 World Series run, and that's how he's still viewed, especially by Bochy.
But at his age, on a team already leading the division, is he worth the taint?
That's assuming the Giants are willing to accept some amount of taint in order to win games, which, by now, is a very safe assumption.
Maybe this all has to be put in perspective. The Dodgers' barrage of acquisitions gives us proof that they could potentially have an unlimited budget.
Maybe this is the Giants' response: A potentially unlimited tolerance for PED use.