LJWorld.com weblogs Lehrence, KS
Righting the baseball ship
Steroids, human growth hormones, cheating. Confirming what many suspected or already knew, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Mitchell explained yesterday that performance-enhancing substances are a significant problem in Major League Baseball.The most important thing to emerge is, as Senator Mitchell noted, how does baseball look to the future? Senator Mitchell made recommendations to the league and the players union as to how they may be better able to reduce or eliminate banned substances from the game. But the investigation missed an opportunity to make real change.Establishing a department of investigations, cooperating with law enforcement, turning over testing to an independent agency with real authority, better publicity of the rules, logging packages and better education and awareness are the core of the panel's suggestion of how to reduce the use of performance enhancing substances.Give me a break.Are there any players who don't know the rules? Are there players who won't have steroids shipped to their homes now instead of the stadium? Was the league obstructing investigations by law enforcement officials (pretty sure that is a crime in itself)? The recommendations are more likely to produce the reaction "wow, I can't believe these policies weren't already in place, are the surprised everyone was breaking the rules?" than produce any meaningful change in the game.Problems with steroids happened with the full knowledge and tolerance of all parties. The players were writing checks for crying out loud. The only way any sane person would write a check for something genuinely against the rules or illegal is if they fear no retribution.Some say the league permitted this to happen because baseball needed help to recover from the strike in 1994. Home runs are exciting and put fans in the seats. Others say it emerged as the superstars neared the end of their careers and needed an extra boost to break records or reach milestones. Regardless, the game has been severely damaged and requires dramatic measures to clean up its act.Rather than slap everyone on the wrist and implement policies that should have been in place years ago because they are the bare minimum of what should be in place, the following measures should also be enacted:1. Bud Selig should be required to resign. He was in charge, he either let this happen or he didn't have the ability to detect the problem. Neither possibility is a good one for the commissioner. He's out.2. Any players caught using performance enhancing substances (including those named in the report) shall be banned from membership in the Hall of Fame. Sorry guys, if you are not good enough for the Hall without steroids, you're not good enough for the Hall with them. More specifically, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be made to be definitive examples and warnings to all future players. Both were clearly qualified for the Hall of Fame without these substances. Both could be argued as two of the best of all time. Clemens may even be the best pitcher ever to play the game. Not any more. It is painful to realize and accept that neither should be considered for Cooperstown, but it will do wonders in cleaning up the game.3. Any records established by players associated with performance enhancing substances will be disqualified. Cheaters do not and cannot win (also true for Mr. Bonds who still lacks a World Series ring). Make notations next to the empty spots for any records explaining that the player who won the award or set the record was caught cheating and the award was rescinded/record reversed to the previous holder.4. First time offenses will be punishable by a two year suspension.Baseball is the national pastime. Steroids diminish the quality and integrity of the game, they should have no place in the game. Let's not make it more difficult to use performance enhancing substances, let's make it impossible to find a rationale to use them. These four additions should make a world of difference in cleaning up the game, much more than the "I can't believe these policies weren't already in place" recommendations by the panel.