Posted on: February 11, 2009 1:10 pm

Steroids and baseball, Will it ever end?

As I sit here writing this post I have a few thoughts concerning the ongoing steroid discussion as it relates to baseball and the stars in the sport.  This is the first blog entry I have posted in quite some time but I have not had the time to do so.  This may reflect my impatience with the entire subject and my desire to just see it go away.  Some may also believe that it has to do with me being a Yankee fan and growing increasingly sick of seeing my team's players outed in various reports, books and other media.  I believe, and hope, that I can be a little bit more neutral and impartial than that.  At this point, I would be as sick of hearing about steroids and baseball if it were Boston Red Sox players being named rather than New York Yankees players.  To begin, I would like to say that I am not defending or making excuses for the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

First, it has been obvious that there is certainly disparate treatment of athletes who test dirty depending upon what sport they participate in.  It seems that this entire week has been devoted to the story of Alex Rodriguez and performance enhancing drugs.  I am sure there are other stories in sports and this cannot possibly be all that is going on.  We also have seen the same treatment of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and many other baseball players.  Some have escaped as much wrath due to admitting use and acting humble, see Andy Pettite.  However, all of the baseball players named in any report will forever have their careers tarnished by this.  In fact, the entire era is probably tarnished by steroids.  It has even been said that none of these players should be allowed into the Hall of Fame because of steroid use.  For a contrast I turn to the NFL.  In the recent past Sean Merriman and Rodney Harrison have both been found to have used a performance enhancing drug.  Neither one of them were put through the media circus or called before Congress as baseball players have been.  They received a suspension and the biggest concern of fans seemed to be, when will they be back on the field?  If there is any validity to the argument that we don't want our pro athletes using any PED so that children and developing athletes won't use them, then the same rules and scrutiny should apply across the board.  Otherwise, we are really saying that it is really okay to use performance enhancing drugs if you play football, but if you play baseball it is a mortal sin to even consider it.  And let's face it, where do you think being bigger, stronger, and faster will pay off the most?

People have now been stating that the remainder of the 104 names of players who tested dirty in the 2003 testing should be released to the public as Alex Rodriguez's name was.  There are a couple of objections I can see to this.  First, this testing was done with the promise that it would be confidential, would be destroyed, and there would be no punishment assessed for a positive test.  It was absolutely wrong for any name, including Alex Rodriguez, to be released to the media, period.  It was through these guarantees that players agreed to that round of testing to begin with.  If the players cannot trust ownership and the league when it comes to these positive tests, can they trust them on anything else? For all of those who think that we have the right to know all the names, I will put one question to you.  If you took a medical test at your job, say for drugs, based on the promise that it would be confidential, and there would be no punishment for it, would you believe that it would be justified to publish your positive test result at a later date?  To add to the problem, your name is then trashed in the media.  While most of us would not have to worry about the media, you have to admit that it would be embarrassing.  Would you have any trust for your employer at that point?  Additionally, if the other 103 names were released does anyone believe that would end the steroid era and no other player would be suspected?  There is no way.  Releasing the names would do nothing except to provide tabloid fodder as no one can be punished for these tests anyway.  Truly, the only person wronged by the release of just one name out of 104 is Alex Rodriguez himself because he is now being singled out.  Who knows, even if they all came out he may still receive the most attention, but at least would be one among many.

Another subject that has been continually coming up is Cooperstown.  There have been many columnists and fans that say that no player ever tied to the steroid scandal should be eliminated from consideration from the Hall of Fame.  At this point that list would include many of the best players of this era.  The Hall of Fame is supposed to be a museum to the greatest achievements on the field.  The simple fact is that a lot of the greatest players of this era have been tied to steroids, or had their name mentioned in relation to the subject.  This naturally leads to the question of what standard of do we use to keep players out of Cooperstown based on steroid ties.  Would it be as little as an individual said they did it or would it have to be based upon a positive test?  Clearly there should be more than just the word of one person to keep a person out of the Hall forever.  It actually may just cast a doubt over every player who has played during the steroid era.  If all players are guilty by association, do we then keep them all out of the Hall?  That would certainly seem like an extreme solution.  To me the most reasonable solution seems to be to do as Bob Costas has suggested and put a sign up indicating what the steroid era was and what it signified to the sport and the nation.  People then could make up their own minds as to what it would mean to them.  This would also ensure that players who have accomplished some astounding feats would be enshrined.  Let's not forget that there have been other ways of cheating in the past and I am pretty sure there are some Hall of Famers who have engaged in some form of cheating.

Here's to the end of the entire steroid saga and a return to our great national past time in the very near future. 

Posted on: January 24, 2008 12:46 am

My First Blog - Mitchell Observations

This is my first foray into the world of writing a blog.  There have been some things that have happened recently in sports that have perturbed me to say the least.  One of the big ones, is the Mitchell Report.   

The entire Mitchell investigation has really been irking me recently.  This is really for several reasons.  The first has to do with the idea of it being an independent investigation.  I do not think that either independent or investigation really apply to what was done.  To be independent, you have to have a party conducting the act that is not associated with any of the parties involved.  In law this is done to avoid any appearance of impropriety.  There are good reasons this is done.  It protects any findings from the doubt that automatically arises if you have someone connected to a party deciding a dispute involving that party.  They may actually be completely fair, but many will assume otherwise.  Next, it protects against having a “judge” make a ruling by things other than the case itself.  In this instance, George Mitchell is on the Board of Directors of the Boston Red Sox.  I am not saying, that the man is dishonest, or lied, but he certainly cannot be considered independent.  It does seem suspicious that twenty Yankees players and virtually no Red Sox players were named though.  Also, the word investigation seems like a stretch as well.  As far as I can tell, the entire report is based on the accounts of two snitches, McNamee and Rodomski.  To begin with, why in the world would that cost twenty million dollars?  Also, these are two guys giving over information in order to get favorable deals from the government.  It does not seem that there was enough actual investigation into their claims.  They may have been spoken to on several occasions, but a good liar could keep his story straight.

I also have a problem with naming players in this report and thereby ruin their reputations based on this information.  As everyone is well aware, it is very difficult to recover your reputation after these types of allegations.  I bet that even if a player is able to clear his name, many will still hold unfounded suspicion of that player due to just having been named.  It was seen during the McCarthy era when just being named a communist could ruin reputations as well as lives.  Another problem arises in a player even being able to clear their name to begin with.  It is very difficult to prove a negative.  When Roger Clemons was named in the report, his agent or attorney released a message in which Clemons said he did not ever use PED’s, no relation to WMD’s I hope.  After the naming, it seemed like the vast majority of people believed him guilty just because he was named.  Many stated opinions that if he was  innocent, he should be shouting it from the mountain tops and file suit against McNamee, etc.  Now he has done exactly that, but it still appears from the online polls that the vast majority of people still believe him to have cheated.  Whatever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?  Related to this, just because a few of the named players have admitted to use certainly does not mean that the information given on all of the players named is accurate.  After all, the best lies are partially true.

Another issue I have with this entire process is the simple fact that MLB decided that it was necessary to even conduct this investigation in the manner it did.  I have wondered why there have been a few players in the NFL who have been suspended for using PED’s and Congress does not get involved with them.  Maybe it is because they handle it differently.  The approach by the NFL seems to be, have a testing program, do the testing, punish for violations.  They recognized that there was a problem and they addressed it.  MLB was on its way to doing the same thing, a testing program, and sanctions for positive results, or confirmed use of HGH, were in place.  Baseball had recognized the problem and was handling it.  It does not seems that having this highly publicized report really will do a lot of good in eliminating PED’s from the game.  Now Congress has gotten involved in this mess.  I know many people think that baseball cannot handle the problem so Congress has to save the day.  To begin with virtually all of the information given in Mitchell is from 2002 or earlier, before MLB had any testing or any policy on PED’s.  It doesn’t seem like the testing program has even been given enough time to even be able to tell if it is effective or not.  And is this really what Congress needs to be concerned with?  MLB is still a private enterprise, and is not in danger of failing.  If it was in danger of failing, I could see why Congress would have a place, but such is not the case now.  Even though Congress should be able to handle many different issues at once, if they spend a lot of time on this it is definitely taking away from tome that could be spent on things that are more of a concern to them and the nation.  The economy, war, and many other social issues come to mind as problems Congress should be trying to solve rather than this issue. 

I hope that this steroids era will pass soon and we can get back to enjoying the game without having to hear a story about this player who got caught doing that drug on a daily basis anymore.  Yes, the PED’s do need to be eliminated from the game, but a knee jerk reaction is not the answer.

Category: General
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