Bud Shares The Blame For Barry

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - March 22, 2006
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With the release of Game of Shadows, the book chronicling Barry Bonds’ alleged use of illegal performance enhancers, an outcry has gone up for baseball commissioner Bud Selig to launch an investigation into Bonds’ behavior. Among those crying out may be Florida Rep.Cliff Stearns, who wrote Selig asking him about his role in baseball’s steroid policy from 1998 to 2002.

According to the New York Daily News, Selig is going to do just that. Selig said he hasn’t yet decided what he will do, but with all the bad press, he has to be thinking about it. The News said Bud is still undecided whether to do the investigation in house or shop it out. Whoever does the digging, one would expect it to answer as many questions as the Warren Report.

The reason is simple: In order to conduct a credible investigation into Barry Bonds, baseball will have to investigate itself.

Is Selig ready to put himself on trial? What about the owners? The San Francisco Giants? The Players Association? It’s like putting a cat in a blender, everyone is going to get messy.

For a decade steroids and other performance enhancers were baseball’s dirty little secret. Like the amphetamines that Selig admits were a common clubhouse commodity for 40 years, the drugs were viewed as a necessary evil. The muscle enhancers were secretly accepted, thereby tolerated and encouraged, in an effort to promote a sport still reeling from the strike in 1994 that canceled the World Series and alienated generations of fans.

So what if they endangered the health of the players and the integrity of the game? The turn-stiles were spinning.

While public suspicion began to surface with the offensive explosions of the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2002 that baseball adopted any kind of policy. What they came up with is a sham that called for little testing and even less enforcement. It allowed baseball to talk tough while hiding the blood on its hands, and really, that was the main purpose. It might have stayed that way had not Jose Canseco spilled the beans and a congressional committee held baseball’s feet to the fire.

Game of Shadows reported that the Giants had investigated Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson, and found that Anderson was, at least, a bit on the dirty side. Yet Anderson was given complete run of the clubhouse against the objections of the Giants’ training staff because the team did not want to alienate the man who was drawing crowds to its new stadium.

The Major League Baseball Players Association decided it was better to fight any kind of testing as an infringement of the players’ rights rather than work with those they represent to protect them from the dangers of the drugs many were taking.

Selig, and by extension Major League Baseball, claimed a lack of power to effect any meaningful change, saying they were blocked by the collective bargaining agreement. A convenient excuse that ignored the fact that Selig possessed the power to unilater-ally change things he felt were “not in the best interests of the game,” this according to the Major League Baseball web site.

As reported in the News, Stearns’ letter to Selig said, “As commissioner, you have the essential responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the game and to ensure that cheaters have no place in professional baseball.”

Selig failed. So did everyone else.

Baseball needs to investigate performance-enhancing drugs, and everyone from the commissioner’s office to the players association to the teams needs to be looked at. Punishments must be addressed before the results so that those in charge can’t alter the penalties for their own benefit, and the league must determine once and for all how to handle those who break the rules. It cannot continue to laugh at pitchers with emery boards in their pockets while bashing those who take pills or cork their bats.

Until baseball admits to its past and puts in place an effective testing and punishment system, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Major League Baseball traded its soul and the safety of the players to make money.

It’s that simple.

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