This one hurts.
Having been labeled last week by many as “soft on jock kingdom crime,” sure, I could sulk, be bitter, scream about the injustice involved, protest vigorously over the misrepresentation, threaten to sue about 100 emailers...
Instead, however, maybe you’ve noticed this morning how calm I am.
You can’t get mad when you know you’ve got a plan.
The baseball PED topic came roaring back to media life last week, and there were opinions posted in this space dealing with the Nelson Cruz situation.
Nellie obviously is caught up in a big mess involving stuff he shouldn’t have been involved in, if he was involved in it at all. But to have his name linked with this Miami clinic is not a good thing, amen.
I didn’t mean any harm.
But I also didn’t include any soapbox sonic blasts at those who cheat the game by having needles stuck in their butts, or by any other method of unleashing PED power into the body.
Man, people got mad about that. I was told repeatedly I was coddling these jock crooks.
This is rebuttal time.
As previously stated, baseball should be vigorously applauded for being the one sport most active in attempting to remove PEDs. What’s really impressive is baseball is not throwing small fish at us, but instead, seems to relish in outing the whales of the game.
The bigger the name, the better.
The game also has stiff suspension penalties in place. Fifty games for a first dirty test. One hundred for a second.
But now we know, based on the number of players reportedly involved with the Miami clinic, the penalties aren’t enough.
The next step is go bigger time.
One hundred games for the first positive test. Lifetime ban for the second.
Would that stop it? No, not entirely. But it would definitely cause some second thoughts.
Bud Selig, I’m sure, would agree with me on those stronger penalties. But the commissioner and his office have to work with the players’ union on these sensitive issues.
Ah, yes. The union.
When baseball went through ’Roid Hell in the ’80s, ’90s and into the last decade, the union stonewalled on testing. The union has done almost a one-eighty since then.
Because the clean players took control of the union.
That’s why it’s been interesting to read repeatedly in the last week that the union will go to the wall in attempting to fight the allegations in the Miami case.
I disagree. The union won’t, at least it won’t if the clean players of the game step up and tell the union leaders to allow the investigation to play out to its fullest, and then both sides, players and Selig, can review the evidence.
That’s the catch, however. Will the clean players stay in control of the union?
The Miami case also involves a different kind of challenge. With many of these players, including Cruz, it’s not about a dirty test. Nellie has never failed one.
But his name, or a nickname given by the clinic, is on the Miami list for PEDs having been purchased and delivered.
Legal ramifications are involved, but if purchase and delivery can be proven, then Cruz has to take the fall.
We aren’t talking here about a court of law. All of these cases will be decided by an arbitrator in the Court of Selig. But the Bud rules are decided in part by how far the union wants to go.
Some players have been heard this week saying a full investigation of the Miami situation is a must for the game. But for the most part, it’s been quiet, including in the Rangers’ clubhouse.
Nellie is a popular guy. A total team player. Teammates obviously have their thoughts on the topic, but they are also careful not to say anything that might be taken as a swipe at Cruz. He’s respected by his peers personally, which doesn’t mean the teammates condone the juicing, if there was juicing.
This we know, however:
Something was going on at that Miami clinic. Something that involved a multitude of baseball players.
For the well-being of the game, the commissioner’s office and the union need to be in partnership in attempting to obtain all the facts.
At the moment, only Selig’s office seems to be pushing the fact-finding. This is when a Derek Holland, the union rep in the Rangers’ clubhouse, or veterans such as Joe Nathan and Lance Berkman, should be pushing union leaders for a working relationship with the Selig investigators.
Clean players have as much at stake here as Selig does.
The next step for baseball, regardless of what comes from the Miami situation, will have to involve stiffer penalties for users.
One hundred games for a first offender. Lifetime ban the second time.
Now, I ask:
Exactly who are you going to be calling soft on crime?