Thursday, March 16, 2006

Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

Bud Selig has a dilemma. He doesn't know what to do about Barry Bonds. The simple answer is nothing. There really isn't anything to do about Barry Bonds. The problem with opening up an investigation is that it cannot simply be limited to Barry Bonds. That would be a witch-hunt and regardless of how popular such scrutiny would be, it would be blatantly unfair. If the commissioner is going to open an investigation into Barry Bonds' steroid use, then he would have to open up an investigation on Ken Caminitti, Rafael Palmiero, Albert Belle, Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez, Pudge "I stopped eating sugar" Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling (that sanctimonious, self-righteous prick), Brett Boone, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Lenny Dykstra, Brady Anderson (Who somehow managed hit 50 home runs one year. Yeah, that was natural) Gary Sheffield, etc, the list is endless.

The commissioner has two choices here. He can either instigate an investigation that will track and illustrate the rampant use of steroids throughout baseball for the past 15 years or he can choose to ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own. His problems are twofold. First of all steroids were not banned in baseball until last year. So even if an investigation were to show that Barry Bonds or whomever took steroids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and as a late night snack every single day, there could be no sanctions against that person. Secondly it's clear that everyone in baseball, including the Commissioner's office, knew that there was a huge steroid problem and did nothing to stop it. They simply turned a blind eye to it in favor of balls flying out of the park and the fans flying in. The Commissioner is complicit in this scandal. He's almost as much to blame for this as the players who took the steroids.

Look, it's clearly not my usual position to defend Barry Bonds. However, if the reports of him doing the steroids out of jealousy are true, then it proves the point. If the steroid issue had been addressed when it first reared its ugly head then we wouldn't be talking about Bonds breaking the all time home run record. He would never have taken them. Perhaps McGwire would never have taken them. Perhaps Roger Maris would still be all-the time single season home run record holder and the integrity of the game and its records would be more secure.

The problem was that the Commissioner and the owners didn't trust the fans. They didn't think that they would come unless the home runs were flying out of the park. They didn't think that the fans would care about baseball unless they could come and see some Paul Bunyan type hit the ball 800 miles. The people who run the game clearly don't love it as much as the fans do. People always talk about how the home run race between McGwire and Sosa helped save baseball. That is absolute and utter bullshit. As a lifelong baseball fan, I was thrilled by that home run duel/chase, but it didn't change the way I felt about the game. There were probably a large number of casual fans that perhaps paid more attention to baseball during that period, but that single event didn't turn a whole nation into baseball loving fanatics. The game was fine before the home run chase and it would have been fine without it. Why couldn't the people in charge see that?

The Commissioner does have the broad reaching "best interest of baseball" clause that he could conceivably invoke, but I don't think, no wait I know that the players union would never stand for that. They would never stand for one of their own being punished for doing something that wasn't against the rules of the game. Breaking the law has never been reason enough to be banished from baseball (Ask Steve Howe, Daryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, Keith Hernandez, Doc Gooden, go ahead ask them). The Commissioner lost his ability to do anything about this situation when he abandoned the moral high ground in favor of record attendance. Any attempt at this point to express shock or surprise or outrage at any players steroid use is purely for show. He knew it, you knew it, I knew it and the American people knew it. As the headline in the Onion proclaimed, "Barry Bonds took steroids reports everyone who has ever watched baseball".

So suck it up Bud. When Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth in April or early May, you'll have to grin and bear it just like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us though, you could have done something about it. You simply chose not to.



Blogger Reg said...

I really like your blog (no this isn't a spam!). I'm a baseball fan and it sickens me how the game has been tainted with steroids and homerun records. I remember when the game was about *teams* and how they played together. I don't agree with booing at a game, unless an umpire makes a really bad call. But everytime Barry steps up to the plate, I not only want to boo, I want to spit on him for being such a major factor in ruining a game I love.

2:15 PM  

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