As the dust begins to settle on the suspensions from Major League Baseball's latest performance-enhancing drug scandal, it only seems to lead to more questions.
One of those is how the players involved with the Biogenesis clinic will be judged moving forward, including the curious case of 40-year-old A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, who has brilliantly pitched himself into the center of the AL Cy Young Award discussion.
Colon wasn't suspended with the rest of the motley crew Monday, but his name was linked to theirs throughout the investigation. Baseball deemed Colon's PED-related 50-game suspension from last year, which trickled into the first five games of this season, enough of a punishment.
So Colon is in the clear for the rest of this season, which is a tremendous boost to the A's playoff and World Series chances. Where Colon may not be in the clear is in the eyes of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Yes, the organization that voted no players into the Hall of Fame this year — sending a strong message with its paltry vote totals for players linked to PEDs — will determine Colon's fate in the Cy Young race.
Colon is arguably having the best season of his career, and that's saying something considering he already has a Cy Young Award and two 20-win seasons on his résumé. Entering today's start against the Cincinnati Reds, he has compiled a 14-3 record, 2.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with no signs of slowing down.
In the most recent ESPN Cy Young predictor, which “presents a method based on past results to predict balloting,” Colon was in second place behind the Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer and just ahead of the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez. If Colon keeps up his pace, he has to be given serious consideration.
But will he garner enough support among voters who have a track record of punishing those with PED ties to have any chance of winning? While voting for the Hall of Fame is clearly a different ballgame than a single-season award, it presents quite a dilemma.
On one hand, Colon's served his punishment, is presumably clean this season and is pitching lights-out. Following that line of thinking, he should be rewarded regardless of his past.
On the other hand, he is a year removed from being popped for PEDs, and the stain of the Biogenesis scandal will linger through the season. Do voters really want to reward someone who was caught cheating just a year ago?
And it's not just Colon. What if Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun comes back next year and hits .350 with 50 homers? Those would normally be shoo-in MVP numbers, but maybe not now.
The one thing that's certain is Colon has been one of the best pitchers in baseball and an invaluable piece for the A's, but whether that's enough to sway some Cy Young voters after the season remains to be seen.
The takeaway is the days of clear-cut decisions based on on-field statistics for evaluating baseball players are over. Instead we are left with a muddled mess. Welcome to the new era of baseball.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.