Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Baseball Player's Association and the new 'Roid Rage

So about 100 major league baseball players are about to be revealed as frauds.

The media-mavens are already positioning themselves. This morning on ESPN Radio Erik Kuselias, sitting in for Golic and Greenburg of Mike & Mike in the Morning fame said that he felt the fact that these players names could soon become public constituted a breach of faith with management and that players should never trust management again should those names go public, and that MLB should do everything in its power to keep their deal with the players union.

There are a few problems with that argument. One: management is not just handing over the names, the information was seized by the government. Two: management has no legal standing to contest the seizure. Posession of anabolic steroids, and most of the other performance enhancers by schmoes like you, me, and every player in MLB is illegal - a point often overlooked by too many fans and sportswriters that look for excuses to look the other way (ie: "I can only consider what the player did on the field," or, "the substances don't help you hit a ball," I'll rebut these later...). No company can legally invoke or enforce a contract which, in essence, protects illegal action - the contract is nothing more than a show piece and can not supersede law, and is therefore nothing more than, say, toilet paper. Three: the belief is that the government did this in order to nail Bonds on the perjury charge and Bonds's lawyers are already seeing this as an out, one that Bonds supporters will quickly buy into (See, Barry's not one of the names amongst that 100 or so cheaters) - problem is, what Bonds was doing (not allegedly, as papers from Victor Conte's private records already support this as fact) could not be tested for at the time.

The substances are illegal, and as such, it doesn't matter if baseball had no rule prohibiting them at the time. That's like saying, "it was okay for football player A to hide a shiv in his shoulder pads and hamstring opposing player B with it because it wasn't against football's rules." People - it's still assault.

As for the excuses - major excuse one, "doesn't help the player hit the ball." No, it doesn't. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and talent to hit a 95 mph fastball thrown by a major league pitcher. However, the substances make the player stronger, thus allowing balls that would otherwise be off the wall, or caught on the warning track to go farther. It allows that ground ball to get out of the infield faster, to get past that infielder trying to make a play. The substances also allow for quicker recoery from workouts which in turn increases energy and power. All of that results in better batting averages, elevated homerun and extra base totals and higher slugging percentages.

For the sports writers that use the defense "only what happens on the field," that's a cop-out. Especially since what happens on the field is directly affected by the use of the substances.

I know this is extreme, but in the end, as posession of these substances is illegal, I would like to see a little cooperation between the Justice Department and all of the major sports and jail time for the offenders that were caught on items like anabolic steroids. I understand the suspensions for other substances that might be banned from the games, but not necessarily illegal like the steroids. But in the case of illegal drugs, why should people like Barry Bonds be treated any differently than the crack-addict on the street?