Monday, February 23, 2009

What Kind of Leader Are You?

I took a week off, as previously mentioned, due to illness (mine and the family's).

In the interim, we learned:

- Selig doesn't want us to blame him for the steriods debacle;
- MLBPA former head Marvin Miller stated steroids never hurt or killed anyone, so what's the big deal;
- A-Roid held a press conference, at which he described taking a steroid he bought in the Dominican Republic;
- A-Roid was linked to a known steroids-tainted trainer;
- A-Roid was caught in a lie when the steroid he 'bought' in the DR wasn't available in the DR between 2001-03, with or without a prescription;
- BBWAA decided not to revoke A-Roid's 2003 MVP award; AND
- Lots of evidence got thrown out in the Barry Bonds trial unless the wife of his trainer testifies at the trial (trial begins a week from today).

Most of this stuff didn't surprise me (Selig's weaseling, A-Roid's caught in another lie, a liberal San Fran judge throwing out key evidence in a case against a favored adopted son). What did was the depth of the involvement, and lack of consciousness, the MLBPA had in this whole affair.

For years I believed the real evil in MLB was the owners. Greedy owners. Architects of the reserve clause. Constantly raising ticket prices. It's only since the steroids story broke this time around that I've realized the MLBPA are just as culpable, if not more so, than the owners.

They fought against testing.

They fought against punishment for positive steroids tests.

They allegedly warned players of upcoming tests so they could hide their drug use.

They only cared about how much money they could rake in and very little about the well-being of their players physically.

The whole thing stinks.

Steroid abuse had been long rumored at the MLB level, but back in 1998, when the first 'concrete' evidence of that abuse turned up (McGwire's can of creatine), baseball consistently refused to believe there was a problem, much less do anything about it. This continued for 4 more years before the Commissioner's office was finally, with pressure applied by CONGRESS, able to force testing of players, and ultimately to institute the steriod testing program as we know it today.

The blame for that lack of action rightly belongs to Selig. But not him alone. Donald Fehr and the rest of the union leadership are just a cupable and should be held in just as much contempt for what's happened to the game.

Selig had a singular chance to do something positive for baseball when this all appeared back in 1998. He did nothing.

Selig has gotten a do-over thanks to the leaking of A-Roid's positive test result. He, again, has a singular opportunity to do something positive for baseball.

He could make a stand.
He could suspend A-Roid, invoking the 1971 Commissioner decree that no drug use without a prescription is allowed.
He could release the rest of the 103 names into the public record.
He could revoke any post-season awards for any players who test positive for illegal substances.
He could ban for life all those with positive tests.

Public support would back him; the union would fight, but once exposed as the Machiavellian men they are, they would have to back down and accept what the Commissioner did.

And the Commissioner's office would wrest back some control over the game, control that has been slowly ceded to the players union over the last 40 years until now they are the ones running the league.

But he won't do a thing.

And Major League Baseball will continue to lose credibility, and with it will go the fans.

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