Bud’s Big Probe

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - April 05, 2006
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Let the blames begin.

With pressure from Congress and public sentiment over Barry Bonds closing in on one of sports’ most-hallowed records, Major League Baseball has decided to investigate performance-enhancing drugs.

And only 10 years too late. Saying “nothing is more important to me than the integrity of baseball,” during last Thursday’s press conference, Selig kicked off a self-celebratory recounting of baseball’s efforts to clean up the game and announced the full-bore effort to find out who did what and when.

While the path of the investigation will be a mystery for some time, what does seem obvious is that the scope of the probe and the person running it were carefully chosen for the maximun benefit of Major League Baseball.

George Mitchell, who will lead the investigation, was praised by Selig for his work in Congress and in international politics. He failed to mention that Mitchell is a part owner of the Boston Red Sox and the director of the team. The former Senate majority leader was also the director of the Florida Marlins, and in 1999 was appointed by Selig to be part of an economic study committee.

Mitchell, who is chairman of the Walt Disney Co., the parent company of ESPN, which is a partner with Major League Baseball and which will air Barry Bonds’ “reality” show, declined to answer questions about whether his appointment represents a conflict of interest. He did however, according to ESPN, say that his role with Boston will not be a problem. “If anyone associated with the Red Sox is implicated, they will be treated just like everyone else.”

Another reason Mitchell is the logical choice is his political connections. Keeping baseball agitators such as Arizona Sen. John McCain and Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns at bay is of utmost importance while baseball once again tries to cover its backside.

Selig said the investigation will look at “any player that used steroids and other substances that were banned by the 2002 collective bargaining agreement.” Which means that the cattle enhancers and female fertility drugs allegedly taken by Bonds would be beyond the scope of the investigation as would any club, league official or member of the players association. Evidently, this is what Selig considers “both thorough and fair.”

Mitchell said Selig gave him complete independence and unhindered authority to conduct the investigation where ever it may lead. Which sounds good and would mean more if baseball didn’t hire one of its own to investigate something for which Selig, and possibly Mitchell himself, may be complicit.

Mitchell seems to expect players to line up and testify regardless of Selig saying that unlike the federal government, baseball lacks the authority to grant immunity.

According to the New York Daily News Bonds won’t cooperate. And why should he? Why should any player stand up and possibly indict himself in front of a committee that, at least for the time being, seems unwilling to recognize the involvement of others who are just as guilty?

Baseball only acts when forced. If it weren’t for congressional interest there would be no testing policy and if it were not for Game of Shadows there would be no investigation.

The era is dirty and everyone is responsible. We don’t know when it began or what were the exact results. We don’t know who took the drugs or who knew and turned a blinds eye. Since we can’t kick out everyone, we cannot kick out a few.

The era and investigation are a sham. The integrity of the league has been compromised, and Skip Bayless picks the Tigers to win the American League wild card.


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