|The Day after||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on January 16, 2008
It started early in the morning when the hearings opened with a sweet pitch to the Commissioner who was praised for listening to what the Congressional committee had to say in 2005 and making strides towards cleaning up the game.Â Much of that praise came because Selig went ahead and authorized the Mitchell Report, probing into a past which many owners and players would really prefer to pretend never happened.Â But Selig perceived that while owners and users might prefer to sweep the past under the rug it wasnâ€™t going to happen.Â Fans, lawmakers and the media wanted to know what happened, and eventually were going to find out.
The Mitchell Report if anything was underwhelming in the number of players it exposed.Â Even Mitchell admitted that this was just a sampling of the names of users.Â While a handful of stars and superstars, many of whom had been speculated to be users of steroids, were exposed most of the catch was the smaller fish, players who arenâ€™t that well known.
But all of those names were really incidental to the thrust of the report.Â Those issues were that baseball knew it had a problem and did nothing about it, but turned a blind eye to it.Â Â The union was obstructionist, the teams disorganized and more interested in revenue and protecting their stars than they were in putting an end to the steroid mess, and some of the players, were liars, and that little before 2005 and the Congressional hearings then had been done to stem the tide of steroid and HGH use.
And in illustrating those points they threw a couple of wicked pitches.Â One against the players, and one against management.Â For Giants General Manager Brian Sabean and team owner Peter McGowan it was for not reporting the suspected steroid use of Barry Bonds and suspicions about his trainer Greg Anderson who they believed was supplying the star.Â Rep. Henry Waxman pushed this point home by asking if Sabean would be disciplined for not reporting the issues to the Commissionerâ€™s office?
Selig took the hint and the pitch and said that â€śItâ€™s a matter that I have under review.â€ť
The other high hard one was against Astroâ€™s slugger Miguel Tejada whoâ€™s credibility was called into question and will face an investigation which could lead to federal charges if evidence in the Mitchell report can be corroborated, proving he lied to investigators during the perjury investigation of Rafael Palmeiro.
It was clear that the Committee wanted blood, but they didnâ€™t get much.Â Both Selig and Fehr were meek, accepted blame and said they would do what they had to do to clean up the game for the future.Â The accusations were something both had laid plenty of publicity gaining groundwork for - with the union consenting to HGH suspensions based on evidence which does not include a positive test (there is currently no test for HGH), and with MLB essentially endorsing and implementing pretty much everything that the Mitchell report suggested and that didnâ€™t have to be negotiated with the union.
But there were points upon which both Selig and Fehr stood firm - neither side would concede that independent testing by an agency which could supersede their authorities was a good idea.Â The questions were barbed on this point, it was asked just why anyone should believe baseball was capable of managing policing itself based upon its record of failure thus far?
In fact one of the committee Rep. Betty McCollum went so far to accuse baseball of fraud, stating â€śItâ€™s my opinion that weâ€™re here in the middle of a criminal conspiracy.â€ťÂ Thats a feeling that was reinforced when it was disclosed that there was an almost 300% increase in Therapeutic Use Exemptions - for stimulants proscribed for â€śmedical reasonsâ€ť between 2006 and 2007 - just as testing and punishment for amphetamines came into play.
It certainly is suspicious, and it isnâ€™t something likely to be overlooked by the committee when they hold their next round of hearings next month.