— It’s six years since baseball conducted an “anonymous” test to determine whether enough players were taking performance enhancing drugs to merit a permanent testing policy with penalties for use. After the leaks of Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa, we now know two of the 104 players who tested positive.
At this rate, in just 312 more years we’ll know who all of them were.
That’s a long time, even by baseball’s Paleozoic standards. But at least dragging this out over three centuries will ensure the legacy of Bud Selig and Donald Fehr will live on long after they’ve gone to that big luxury suite in the sky.
Selig, the commissioner of baseball, and Fehr, the head of the players association, created this mess. Only they can get baseball — and us — out of it.
First, release every name on that list. The other 102 will come out, especially the big ones. You can make book on that. And it’s unfair to have a few players identified while others go free. So release the names. Now.
Next, Selig and Fehr should stage a joint press conference and accept every bit of blame. They allowed it. They ignored the need for testing. The players are not to blame. Selig and Fehr are.
They allowed steroid use to take over the game. They spent years in denial, their judgment governed totally by short-term financial interest. They couldn’t even agree on destroying the list of names of those who tested positive.
Selig and Fehr need to say everything happened when they allowed it to happen. They need to say it is unfair to keep beating up the players and to accept that the records from that era represent just another statistical bubble among the many that punctuate baseball’s history.
Selig keeps acting as if he’s shocked and amazed that such things ever happened. He’s been doing it so long that I have to believe that he actually is as naïve as he appears to be. He must wrap his brain around the fact that this is something that happened and can’t be changed.
And Fehr needs to admit that his monomaniac pursuit of money for his players kept him from caring about the game itself. He was the enabler who told the players to go ahead and do whatever they wanted, because he’d protect them from the drug testers.
If you want to keep anyone out of the Hall of Fame, make it Selig and Fehr. They did nothing to stop the steroid epidemic. The players did what their leaders encouraged them to do. And regardless of whether they lied about their use, none of the identified users ever did anything that merited any penalty.
If there were no penalties for doing it when players did, how can there be one six or 10 or 15 years later?
The players were only doing what players have always done, which was anything they could to improve their performance — and their income and fame. Baseball watched them grow Incredible Hulk bodies and hit baseballs prodigious distances and never asked why.
The steroid era is rapidly becoming ancient history. In today’s short attention span world, six weeks is an eternity, and this has been going on for six years. It will continue to go on and on and on until somebody does something to end it.
There are just two people in position to do that: Selig and Fehr.
Keeping the list a secret became an impossibility when federal investigators obtained a copy. From that moment on, there was only one way to deal with what was guaranteed to become the scandal that just kept giving and giving: release all the names.
That became a moral imperative once Rodriguez’s name was leaked to writer Selena Roberts for her allege-all book about A-Rod. Once you name one, you have to name all.
So now it’s Sosa’s turn to be outed for a test that was given more than six years ago, when there were no penalties for taking what he took. Yes, he lied to Congress, and he looks really bad for doing it. But the bottom line is he’s one of 104 who tested positive and one of no one knows how many hundreds who took substances Selig and Fehr never told them to stay away from.
Selig and Fehr. These are your culprits, not Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmiero and anyone else.
Selig and Fehr. It’s time for them to step forward together, take the blame, release the names, and end this endless scandal.
Not tomorrow. Not next week.