Major League Baseball already has the strictest doping policies among the four major professional sports, yet commissioner Bud Selig wants them even tighter.
Even prior to the expiration of the current CBA, Selig asked his VP of labor relations, Rob Manfred, and MLB Players Association chief Michael Weiner to hammer out a new agreement.
“I’ve always wanted (fans) to understand that I’ll always regard cleaning up this situation as something I’m very proud of,’’ Selig told reporters.
Selig wants his legacy to be that he’s the commissioner that got rid performance-enhancing drugs, which sound about right because it was under his watch that the problem mushroom into its current mess.
Not coincidentally and not surprisingly, his reason for wanting this is the same reason why it started in the first place: Money.
Selig is peeved Melky Cabrera, who sat out a 50-game suspension last year, was rewarded by a two-year, $16-million contract from Toronto. Sounds reasonable. However, there’s also the current scandal emanating from Florida, which includes Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, the latter two being former MVP’s.
“If people want to continue to do what they shouldn’t do, then the one thing that you have to do is you have to have stricter penalties. It’s as simple as that,’’ Selig said.
It’s never that simple. The current penalties of 50 games for a first offense and 100 games for a second offense aren’t the deterrent Selig thought. That’s because, and aptly demonstrated in the Cabrera case, the payoff in salaries for outweigh the penalties.
In this case, Selig is right.
What’s losing 50 games when on the other side you get a two-year deal? A year suspension for the first offense and two years if not outright banishment following the second should get the player’s attention.
However, stop short of praising him because it was the owner’s greed – with Selig the point man – who locked out the players in 1994. With it came the killing of the World Series and delay of the 1995 season.
To compensate for the money lost during the stoppage, Selig and the owners turned a blind eye to steroids, which was the spark to the power explosion that filled the stands once again. The McGwire-Sosa sham home run race, and Barry Bonds surpassing Hank Aaron, was the fallout of the steroid era.
And, with it, the annual indigestion the sport feels every January with the Hall of Fame announcements, turning what should be a joyous occasion celebrating baseball’s past into a disgrace.
Sure, Selig wants to clean up that mess. He should, because he helped create it in the first place. What I want from Selig now isn’t grandstanding, but an acknowledgement of what happened under his guidance, and with it, some recognition that the records that define the sport need an asterisk.
As far as I am concerned, the single-season and career home run records belong to Roger Maris and Aaron.
I don’t know what you would call them, but Bonds, McGwire and Sosa during that time did not hit home runs in the traditional sense. And, tradition is what baseball is all about.