Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3: Outside Investigation of Baseball, Union Needed

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Releasing the list won't solve the problem.

The reaction of a lot of people to the leaking of the names of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez from that 2003 list of Major League Baseball players who tested positive for an illegal substance is that the entire list should be released.

All that means is that the entire list will be released.

A genuine resolution of the problem of steroids, human growth hormone and whatever other illegal junk baseball players are swallowing, injecting and slopping on won't come without two things:

1) A change of leadership and leadership philosophy in both the MLB Commissioner's Office and the Major League Baseball Players Association,

2) A full, outside investigation of baseball and its national and international leadership over the past two decades.

Today comes the story that two Boston Red Sox security officers, one the son of former Sox second baseman and current announcer Jerry Remy, have been fired for connections to steroid use. They insist they didn't supply players.

Even if that's true in this case, baseball fans with long memories will recall the Pittsburgh drug trials of the mid-1980s, in which a number of baseball stars - and baseball team employees - 'fessed up their guilt in various involvements with cocaine.

Human nature being what it is, it's not hard to suspect that steroid and human growth hormone suppliers are working in, or for, at least some of those clubhouses right now.

Love of money being what it is, it's not hard to suspect that team and players union executives still want to turn their backs on whispers about which stars are involved.

Then there's the Latin America pipeline, which has never been investigated at all. Again, many of those countries don't have the equivalent of a Food and Drug Administration.

While the cocaine addictions didn't stop completely with the Pittsburgh drug trials - Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry's problems with cocaine were still largely ahead of them in 1985 - it did seem to become the exception rather than the rule. That's because baseball had a real leader - Commissioner Peter Ueberroth - who was determined to clean up the sport.

Another commissioner, Fay Vincent, banned steroids from baseball in 1991. Bud Selig, who succeeded Vincent in what was essentially an owners' coup against the commissioner's office, never tried to enforce that ban until the evidence and yells from Congress became too obvious to ignore.

And still the problem goes on. Ramirez, mentioned in that 2003 list, was suspended for 50 games earlier this year. He and others caught continue with their "The dog ate my homework" excuses.


Someone, anyone - a small college, an ambitious federal prosecutor - needs to begin and sustain an outside, comprehensive investigation of what baseball has been doing on this issue since Vincent was deposed.

That 2003 list doesn't contain the names of those who are really guilty in this mess: Bud Selig. Union head Donald Fehr. And many team owners, executives and managers.

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