A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Friday, March 18, 2005

*Warning* Steroid Talk *Warning*

A few quick hits from the congressional hearings, or as much as I listened to which was up to the players testimony. I missed what I heard was the best part in the Bud Selig, Don Fehr, etc. grilling.

  • Jim Bunning, who is a Hall of Famer turned senator was very insightful in his portion of the hearing.

    "It's not their game. It's ours. Many more were before of them, and many more will come after them. We need to do whatever we can do to protect the integrity of the game"

    'Tis true. The players tend to think they are bigger than the game and think it is nobody's business but their own. However, last time I checked, the fans make the sport. No fans, no sport. There are people alive today that have been watching baseball for longer than some of these players have been alive.

    One crazy thing Jim Bunning said was to wipe all the records out that were steroid assisted. Though it is impossible to find that information out, it was really the first time a prominent baseball player has said it publicly. He said to go ask Henry Aaron and Roger Maris if they would they like their records compared with the new records? He demanded a need to return the integrity to the game. Being an old timer who is in the Hall of Fame and obviously very successful, it was interesting to hear. He also said if you get caught, you should be out of the game. Period. No second, third, fourth, or fifth chances. He said when he was playing, no 150 pound second baseman could hit the ball 425 feet to right center. He said the only guy who could do that when he played was Mickey Mantle. He has a really hard time believing that baseball says the abuse is down to 1%. Though, in the today's players defense, they work out more, the stadiums are geared towards hitters, the strike zone has been made smaller, the mound was lowered, the research and game preparation is unparalleled, expansion waters down the pitching, etc. Most differences between the two eras benefit hitters as well. Home runs + scoring = cash. That accounts for a lot of the chances and that accounts for a lot of what happened though no one is naive enough to think that accounts for all of it.

  • Another huge part of it was comparing MLB's regulations to everyone else’s. The new agreement specifically states that the after the first positive result, the player will receive a 10 day suspension with the name being made public or up to a $10,000 fine with their name withheld. Though there were assurances that a player’s name would be made public and the player suspended, the other clause is in there. In football, you get suspended 25% of the season with no pay for the first offense and 50% of the season for the second offense with no pay. In Virginia, if a student athlete is caught using steroids, they get a two year suspension. The Olympics is two years for the first offense, then for life.

    Henry Waxman, who is a congressman from California suggest there be one standard for all of sports. As good as that may sound, that will never happen. I guess the question is, when it comes to illegal substances, do you think the government should be able to strong-arm a standard in regards to this? We are not just talking about cheating like with a corked bat, but breaking laws. To me, it is clear they have to govern themselves and have a third party involved like suggested later in the hearings.

  • Chris Van Hollen had made a good point during the hearings. He made a reference to chewing tobacco and how baseball players spoke out against it like Hank Aaron and others. Although like Schilling said it is debatable how much PSAs work, they still took a stance. It seems that when it comes to steroids, mum is the word. No one will talk about this topic. Ben Davis bunted against Schilling during a no hitter in an attempt to try and spark something to win a close game a few years back, he draws ire. A player steals with a his ten up by 10? Forget it. He gets plunked. A player corks, it's a big deal. Players do roids, it's a blip on the radar and everyone knows nothing and it's a MINOR problem.

  • McGwire turned the waterworks on in his opening statement, refused to talk about the past, and basically admitted his guilt by pleading the fifth. He then said he could be a spokesperson for the anti-steroids campaign. Then, when asked if using steroids was cheating, he said that was not for him to determine. What? So let me get this straight, he is and x-player and has no opinion on whether taking an illegal substance was cheating? We know it was not banned by baseball, so in baseball's eyes it was not, but he has no opinion on the topic and I'm not curious why. If he says yes, then he is basically saying he cheated. Patrick McHenry did not miss a beat after McGwire volunteered himself to be a spokesperson for the cause. He asked how he could be a spokesperson. He ask if he knew someone who took them or if he knows the effects first hand to be able to speak on the topic. McGwire said that he accepted his attorney's advice to not answer this issue. Fine, but by saying that, there is no need to answer.

    Really though, McGwire was useless. That's not for me to answer or I do not want to comment on my steroid laden past...that is all that came out of his mouth. Mark Souder ripped into him too. He said imagine if the Enron people said we do not want to talk about the past or Richard Nixon said he does not want to talk about the past. Granted they are different levels, but you use the past as a stepping stone. You cannot pull a Giambi and say we are trying to correct a problem we cannot speak out specifically and do not want to investigate because we are looking towards the future. Souder then asked how is congress supposed to pass legislation or make changes if the past is not discussed. I agree with him in principal.

  • Frank Thomas, Curt Schilling, and Rafael Palmeiro were much better. Schilling did come off as a player's association crony, but he was big on letting the MLB fight it's own battles and letting the system work. Fine, I can take that. Raffy put up some good ideas and actualy imparted some opinions! Frank was live via satellite and was good by default. He really did not do much, though he was not really addressed by congress.

    Sammy Sosa was useless. He did however say that he loves "beisbol" and that "beisbol" has been berry berry good to him.

    Everyone thought Canseco was a joke, and he was. Jose even brought up the "B" word, which is blackballing. He still cannot face the fact he was not any good anymore. What he was saying was predictable and contradictory to his statements in his book.

    Book: Steroids are good
    In Front of Congress: Steroids are bad

    What was with Schilling's Pete Rose looking hairdoo anyway?

    Metropolitan's Wrap-Up:
    I missed the meat and potatoes of the entire thing by missing the commissioner and Don Fehr, but I saw enough. I think their policy needs to be harder which was painfully obvious to everyone. They need to make the first offense a tough one, and not a slap on the wrist. Congress did not need to get this together, it was just a lot of sensationalism with bringing in parents of kids who died, players, etc. It was a lot of representatives who loved to hear themselves talk and it was a humungous waste of money. It was a media circus. The basic premise is good of course, but was this really necessary? Give the plan a year to work and see how it shapes out. If you still have problems then, then go for it.

    No records should be stricken from the books if they were steroid aided. I've written on here that people have been cheating since baseball started and you cannot say one person's version of cheating is better or worse than another. Hall of Famers have cheated before and people have always been trying to get that competitive edge. Try and solve the problem going forward and move on from it. It will be remembered as the time with juiced up players, but nothing could ever be proven that it does help or helped anyone break any records.

    Lastly, this is the governments business. Should they have gotten involved to the extent that they did? Not just yet, but they have a vested interested and I'm not talking about the youth of America. Young kids doing steroids will not change just because major leaguers stop or talk about it. Like Schilling said, you'll need to administer testing with stiff penalties as a deterrent, but this really was not the focus. In fact, I'm not sure what the focus was about besides people loving to hear themselves talk, but one thing that came through loud and clear to me is that baseball is a billion dollar business that effects the economy and the communities surrounding the teams. Teams use public funding for stadiums and benefit from tax exemptions from the government. If they are willing to take those benefits from the government and the people, they have to be accountable and do have a civic duty to perform. The Nationals got $400 + million stadium approved by a DC Council. Are you going to sit there and tell me they have no right to be interested? When baseball does not receive aid from the government, then they can have all the privacy and lax steroid use they want. However, a lot of people have vested interest in the game and cleaning it up can never be a bad thing. The fans deserve better and everyone deserves better. I could give a crap that people did it in the past, but going forward, act like you are serious about solving the problem.


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