Monday, May 21, 2007

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Jason Giambi has apparently stirred up some controversy with his recent comments about his past steroid use. Giambi was quoted as saying that he was sorry that ever did that "stuff". He also said that Major League Baseball and the owners should apologize to the fans for the steroid problems of the past. By opening up his mouth about this issue he has set the Yankees and the Commissioner's office into a flurry of activity. The Yankees are once again looking into voiding his contract and the Commissioner's office has stated that they would like to speak to Giambi further on this matter.

Before the 2004 season, Giambi apologized to the fans without saying exactly what he was apologizing for. His Grand Jury testimony, in which he admitted taking steroids, had already been leaked to the press and so it was assumed that he was apologizing for his part in the growing scandal. The Yankees at that point had every lawyer in their employ scrutinizing his contract to see if there was anyway for them to void it based on Giambi's alleged steroid use. It didn't help Giambi's cause any when he then proceeded to have a horrible injury plagued year. The lawyers couldn't find a way out of the contract back then and they won't be able to find a way out of it now. Giambi has one year and $5 million buyout for the 2009 season remaining on his contract. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Giambi will not be part of the team when they open the new Yankee stadium in 2009. The Yankees should probably stop wasting energy and resources on trying to figure out how to get rid of Giambi and focus on the real problem at hand.

The Commissioner's office has known about Giambi's testimony for years. Certainly since it was leaked to the press in 2004. I'm not sure exactly what they have to speak to Giambi about at this point. He has never failed a drug test and even if he admits that he took steroids before 2004, there is nothing baseball can do about, since steroids were not a banned substance up to that point. I'm of the opinion that the Commissioner's office and the Yankee aren't particularly happy about being called out in the press by Giambi. He was basically saying that MLB and the owners both knew about the steroid problem and by not doing anything about it, were in fact, complicit in the scandal. Giambi is saying that they are just as much to blame as the players who took the drugs and I don't think that's something that they like to hear. They are trying to somehow turn the heat up on Giambi as some type of punishment for his talking out about the prolem.

The truth is that they can hire all the attorneys they want and bring Giambi in for all the testimony they want, but in the end, Giambi is going to get his money from the Yankees and will not face any disciplinary action from the Commissioner's office. I'm not even sure why they are going through with this show. They should have just said, "no comment" and let the story just die a natural death. For whatever reason, they were unwilling to do that. Perhaps they just hate the fact that a player is pointing the finger of blame at them, perhaps they just don't like Jason Giambi. They do themselves no favor by trying to punish a player who is simply speaking the truth. The sooner baseball admits it's errors in the steroids scandal, the sooner they can go about making part of their past.

The toothless Mitchell investigation is ongoing, but they will not come back with much that isn't already known. Baseball's own investigation has no federal authority to force testimony from anybody. They have to rely on athletes and others simply outing themselves. I don't see that happening. They will get a lot of hearsay evidence, but they will be lacking in real first person testimony. The one thing I do know is that the investigation will never point the finger of blame at the owners or the Commissioner. Bud Selig hired his friend George Mitchell to head baseball's investigation of the steroid scandal. George Mitchell along with being Bud Selig's friend and a former Senator is also part owner of the Boston Red Sox. So tell me, what do you think the odds are that the owners or commissioner will be singled out from blame when the investigation finally issues it's report (by the way, it's already been a year, I'm hoping for something by the end of the decade)? Not bloody likely.

I'm actually happy that Giambi pointed his finger in the direction of the owners box. They deserve equal blame for what happened to the game. I personally think that the player's union, who refused to even talk about including a ban on steroids in the collective bargaining agreements, is more to blame than even the owners or the commissioner's office, but that's a story for another day.

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