EDITORIAL: Selig, Fehr have reached the ends of their roads
06-09-2006 11:06 PM
EDITORIAL: Selig, Fehr have reached the ends of their roads
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Selig, Fehr have reached the ends of their roads
by Benjamin Kabak
As the Grimsley Scandal explodes and once-redacted names hit the Internet, a familiar refrain has arisen among the baseball literati. Bud Selig, as Dan Lewis wrote yesterday at ArmChairGM, should step down.
Selig has long been the whipping boy among baseball bloggers. For years, Selig has seemingly spent more times posturing on steroids than actually pursuing a true testing program. While Howard Bryant’s Juicing the Game paints a somewhat sympathetic portrait of Selig and Andrew Zimbalist’s recent In The Best Interests of Baseball? is a panegyric in support of Selig, his tenure has been wracked and defined by the Steroid Era. The Jason Grimsley revelations and upcoming fallout will just be icing on the cake.
While it is easy for all of us to point our virtual fingers at Bud Selig and hope - futilely - that the owners would appoint someone neutral (Bob Costas?) as the next commissioner, the truth is never that simple. Based on the details in Bryant’s book, Selig has wanted to try to fix baseball’s drug problems for the better part of 12 years. But, according to Bryant, he has faced a very formidable foe in Donald Fehr and the might of the Major League Baseball Players’ Union, arguably the strongest labor union in America.
In advance of the labor negotiations in 1994-1995, Selig was a part of the group of owners who wanted to push for a drug testing program. Those within the game knew that steroids were becoming a problem even while those in the media either did not know about it or chose not to report on this story. But internal battles among the haves and the have-nots as well as a bitter conflict and labor stoppage pushed the drug tests off the table.
In 1998, when an Androstenodione-powered Mark McGwire and a Creatine-plus powered Sammy Sosa revived baseball’s popularity, drugs and steroids became a taboo subject. Media members were ostracized for reporting on drugs, and no one wanted to risk the “good will” of the fans.
Four years later, Selig got his drug testing program, but it has no fangs. Since then, the publicity from the BALCO case as well as pressure from Congress has led baseball to refine and add fangs to its drug testing program. But there is a long way to go. Selig started the George Mitchell investigation, but now that hardly seems relevant. The government has its claws in baseball, and they’re not done exposing the sport.
It’s easy now for us to point fingers at Selig. He was charged with keeping the best interests of baseball in the forefront, and clearly, he has failed. He comes across as an ineffective commissioner who is simply a pawn of the owners. He may love the game, and he may want to, with all of his heart, clean up the game. But he has no credibility anymore. His statements sound hollow, and his actions and ineffective.
If baseball is going to clean up its act, someone else has to step in. Maybe Selig is trying hard to get drugs out of the game; maybe he lies awake at night wishing the game were clean. But part of being commissioner is its image, and Selig no longer has that image. That’s why it’s time for him to go.
But the buck doesn’t stop with Allan H. Selig because at every step of the way someone else was with him dancing the same dance. Selig’s partner in crime - his mirror image, in a way - is none of other than Donald Fehr. And if baseball and the players want a way to try to wipe the slate clean, Donald Fehr has got to go as well.
No one has written the book on Fehr yet, but we could call it In the Best Interests of the Players’ Wallets. Every step of the way, Donald Fehr has tried his best to stick up for the players. Whatever gets them the most money, the most protection, that’s been his method. Drug tests could violate their privacy, he has argued. Two years ago, Christine Brennan of USA Today, penned a column condemning Fehr. I use her words:
As head of the players union, if Fehr had wanted no-nonsense steroid testing for his players, rest assured, baseball would have it today. Instead, in what must be interpreted at least in part as an attempt to hide baseball’s massive steroid problem from the public, Fehr fought against all conventional drug-testing wisdom, forcing others to out baseball’s cheaters when the game itself would not. Hence, the fiasco of spring training 2004.
Fehr, a member of the IOC board, knew all about drug use in professional sports. And he more than anyone blocked baseball’s efforts in this steroid tango. Was it in the best interests of the players? Now, it hardly seems so, and it wouldn’t have taken much foresight to predict this dismal future.
So now as BALCO dies down and Barry Bonds’ chances of reaching 755 seem dim, baseball has yet another colossal scandal on its hands. We can spend hours debating what effects steroids have on stats, but if baseball wants to clean up its image, one thing is clear: The leaders of the game must take the fall.
It’s time for Bud Selig to step down. It’s time for Donald Fehr to step down. If these two men won’t do so willingly, then maybe the owners and the players should simply oust the men. That would be in the best interest of baseball.
Posted on Jun 9, 2006 at 12:22 AM
06-12-2006 01:29 AM
More scapegoating if you ask me. Getting rid of Fehr and Selig isnt going to make much of a differnence at this point. The cat's allready out of the bag, the testing criteria has allready gotten tough. Personally I find it facinating that anyone was shocked by these so called "Grimsley revelations". Why would anyone be surprised that harder to detect drugs like GH (and probably others like slin, Igf, maybe even MGF) would fall into favor upon the AAS crackdown? Of COURSE their going to rely more on harder to detect compounds now. DUH.
Fehr may very well have opposed AAS testing because it wasnt in the best interest of the players bank accounts, but that doesnt mean that the fiasco of finger pointing and expensive investigations is better for baseball than what he had in mind. Back before AAS testing and congressional intervention baseball was a land of joy and wonder where children laughed and danced with gumdrop smiles. (dramatization).
But really, how is the current situation with everyone freaking out over drugs in baseball like a chicken with there head cut off over some crap most of the people panicking have no CLUE about any BETTER than superhuman sluggers slamming 60+ homers a year while an awe inspired audience cheers on in blissfull ignorance?
I contend that it's not the skewing of stats/records OR the alleged damage to players health (I still dont see any of them keeling over dead BTW), but rather the STIGMA of the drug use fueld by mass media overdramatization and misinformation that is responsible for the declining state of baseball and sports in general. If more people GOT IT, when it comes to AAS and various peptides, then it wouldnt be viewed as destroying the universe as we know it, but creating a new and better one with educated responsible use of ALL viable benefits that modern science has to offer IN CONJUNCTION WITH, (not INSTEAD of) hard work, and smart methedology and nutrition. Taking the cue from bodybuilders would turn the sport into a league of virtualy super athletes. (trust me, alot of baseball players DO NOT take the nutrition thing NEARLY as far as they could. I've seen pro baseball players at the clubs for hours without eating ONE single protien meal, and drinking and smoking.) Not going to mention names though.
Impeaching Fehr, and Selig is nothing more then pointless scapegoating.
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