Friday, December 14, 2007

Bulking Up

The report's out, and it seems many are talking about it:
Now, Roger Clemens joins Barry Bonds in baseball's version of hell. It's a slow burn that lasts a lifetime, then, after death, lingers as long as the game is played and tongues can wag. In baseball, a man's triumphs and his sins are immortal. The pursuit of one often leads to the other. And those misdeeds are seldom as dark as their endless punishment.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, an illiterate outfielder who hit like a demon in the 1919 World Series, but neglected to blow the whistle on his crooked teammates, died with his good name as black as their Sox. Pete Rose, who bet on his team, but never against it, finally confessed. It could be good for his soul, and buys him dinner at my house any night, but may never get him into Cooperstown. Now, they have company: two giants of our time, just as humbled, though no less tarnished.
Yesterday's finger pointing actually frustrated me. Don't get me wrong, these individuals cheated. They participated in an environment that coerced others to make poor decisions to remain competitive. I will not condone their actions, but where is MLB's and the Players' Association's consequences? How long have they turned their head to look the other way, knowing some of this was going on.

Boswell continues:
Mitchell's opus was intended as many things. It was, of course, a severe front-to-back slam at the union for its 20 years of intransigence on drug testing. The charge is absolutely correct. Still, how self-serving can Commissioner Bud Selig be? He appoints Mitchell, closely affiliated with management in general and specifically with the Red Sox, to spend 21 months finding out who's guilty when he already knows that Don Fehr will get handcuffed in the last chapter.

And, of course, owners, mid-level baseball employees and even Selig get taken to ritual task. Oh, everybody should have acted faster, been smarter, seen the signs. But, gosh, how were we to know? Just because our players showed up for spring training like they'd spent the winter inhaling helium. Just because scouts in their reports and general managers discussing trades evaluated how much weight to give the "juice" factor.

Finally, naturally, because Congress knows a vote-grabber in an election year, the report serves as baseball's proactive shield against further embarrassing visits to Capitol Hill. I'm shocked, shocked, to discover that both Mitchell and Selig -- who, just two hours later, endorsed every recommendation in the report -- are passionately in favor of tougher "best-practices" drug testing. What a stunner. Why, right off the bat, Bud said there would be no more 24-hour warnings to clubs that a random drug test would be held the next day. You mean there were warnings for "random" tests? And MLB could have changed it unilaterally, but it took the Mitchell report before they did it? What impressive self-motivation.
And what happens:
a punch in the nose to the union, a slap in the face to MLB, a predictable recitation of the usual (already revealed) steroid suspects and a T-bone steak to placate congressional watchdogs
The commentary focuses on "The Rocket's" decent, but I am more concerned about the bigger picture, and the culpability of the Players group and MLB itself. Seems like they are getting a free pass, while everyone else becomes obsessed with our "heroes" of the diamond. This entire event wouldn't have happened without a catalyst, and I point to the Player's Union and MLB for being the oxygen that kept this fire going for far too long.

But that's just me!


No comments: