ImageThe date was August 15, 2012.

The San Francisco Giants were in the heat of a tight division race with the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers as they ventured to rebound from a disappointing 2011 season in which they failed to reach the playoffs in defense of their 2010 World Series title. Suddenly their best (and at times only) offensive threat—newcomer Melky Cabrera, who was being touted as an MVP candidate—was suspended 50 games for use of a banned performance-enhancing substance.

The suspension, coupled with a blockbusting trade that brought a cadre of marquee stars from Boston to Los Angeles, cast the prospects of a San Francisco postseason berth in a bleak light. The ultimate outcome was far from expected, however.

After vowing not to have Cabrera back for any potential postseason games, the diminished and beleaguered Giants surged down the stretch, ultimately winning the division by eight games over the seemingly reinvigorated Dodgers. They then twice staved off near-certain elimination in the divisional and league championship playoff rounds before sweeping the much-more highly-touted Detroit Tigers for their second World Series title in three years.

Flash forward to August 5, 2013.

Major League Baseball makes its strongest statement to date against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, issuing 13 suspensions in association with investigations surrounding the south Florida Biogenesis Clinic. The most severe and by far most notable ban went to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who “happened” to be making his 2013 season debut following his second major hip surgery in four seasons.

Rodriguez was the only player to appeal his suspension.

The Yankees entered play on August 5 at 57-53, having recently split a very hotly-contested two-game series against the red-hot Dodgers in Los Angeles. Andy Pettitte was coming off three consecutive solid (albeit losing) starts, and the Yankees were playing the Chicago White Sox—owners of a 40-69 record and the lowest run production in the American League, and losers of their last ten straight games.

Pettitte did not survive the third inning, allowing 7 runs on 11 hits as the Yankees lost 8-1. The following night, the Yankees had a clear second run robbed from them early on a bad call at home plate before watching a critical two-out at bat against their best pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, get extended on a questionable ball before Alejandro De Aza doubled in the third White Sox run in their 3-2 victory.

In fairness, Pettitte has been inconsistent all year and every slumping team is bound to break out eventually, but can this all really be strictly a coincidence?

Is it a coincidence that the demure Giants caught fire to beat the boisterous Dodgers for a division title, then further defied the odds and logic in the postseason to claim a World Series title after disavowing themselves of their besmirched slugger (though, ironically, Barry Bonds was a prominent off-field presence during the World Series)?

Is it a coincidence that Rodriguez’s suspension was served the day he was set to return to the field?

Is it a coincidence that Pettitte—a 17-year veteran—was visibly frustrated throughout his two and two-thirds innings of work with the strike zone being called in what was by far his worst outing of the year, coming against the worst-hitting team in the league?

Is it a coincidence that a blown call at second base in the first inning of that game robbed Rodriguez of an RBI opportunity in his first plate appearance or the year?

And is it a coincidence that the Yankees have dropped two straight games to a team nearly 30 games below .500 after looking very competitive since welcoming Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx?

This could all be coincidence, but it seems more reasonable that Major League Baseball is pulling strings to make a statement against PED use.

You can believe in magic and fairy tales, I’m a slave to logic. 

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