All about Bud: Suspensions nothing but a cop out

All about Bud: Suspensions nothing but a cop out
August 2, 2013, 3:00 pm
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(AP Photo)

Only someone as imbecilic and self-serving as Bud Selig could turn A-Rod into a sympathetic figure.

Commissioner Selig’s posturing over the Biogenesis scandal is just what you would expect from Bumbling Bud.  After decades of willfully ignoring PED’s in Major League Baseball, Selig now thinks that taking a stand against Alex Rodriguez and other players linked to the clinic will mitigate his years of incompetence and complicit inactivity.  

No matter how this scandal and its disciplinary proceedings play out, the PED narrative on baseball’s outgoing Commissioner have been written. Bud Selig had multiple chances to take a stand on performance enhancing drugs in baseball and secure his legacy.  And he blew every single one of them.  

Commissioner Fay Vincent, in 1991, took the opportunity to address Steroids in baseball by circulating a memo that, for the first time, labeled them as being against Major League Baseball’s rules. Vincent however would never get a chance to follow up this memo or lobby for PED testing in CBA negotiations, as he was ousted from his post in the fall of 1992.

Bud Selig took over baseball’s top post from the deposed Vincent.  Instead of picking up where Vincent left off, Selig simply used PED testing as expendable chip during his largely disastrous CBA negotiations with the Players Union.  Despite mounting evidence that Steroids were a serious problem in the game he was caretaker of, Selig did nothing more than simply reissue the memo Vincent sent in 1997.  

Why was Bud content to ignore an increasingly insidious problem?  Probably because Baseball’s new chemically charged power surge rapidly repaired the damage done by his bungled bargaining negotiations.  Despite evidence piling up that steroids were creating an injury risk to MLB players, Selig’s MLB rode deca-durabolin filled needles to record ratings and attendance figures.  Chicks dug the long ball and Bud dug the grave his legacy would be buried in.

Despite numerous opportunities to finally come to grips with a problem that was fundamentally changing the way the game was played and chemically altering baseball’s record book, the former used car dealer was content to view MLB’s steroid problem the same way he might treat a car with a suspect transmission: tell the customers to enjoy the ride and hope it didn’t drop on his watch.  

And when it did drop, true to his used car dealer roots, Selig tried to “fix” it with smoke, mirrors and outright deception.  

When the BALCO scandal finally broke, Major League Baseball was forced to address its long simmering PED problem  First there was Uncle Bud’s “Informational Testing” gambit.  If less than 5% of the league came back positive for steroids, Bumbling Bud would require no further testing or penalties.  But when more than 5% of the players tinkled hot on a test so easy to circumvent it was described as an IQ test, Selig’s hands were forced.   

The MLB’s repeated unwillingness to address the swirling PED storm put them in the government’s crosshairs. For a responsible champion of baseball, it would have been a chance to use the government’s involvement as the anvil to hammer the players and their union into compliance and it wouldn’t even require the concessions of collective bargaining.

But once again, Selig and his staff of enablers swung and missed on this golden opportunity.  While more damning information surfaced about Barry Bonds and his fellow BALCO customers, Bud Selig and his lackeys crafted a steroid policy with more loopholes than a hammock.

As a result, Selig and his administrative clown show were dragged before congress.  Not only was their utter incompetence put on display for all to see, but their role as a willing accomplice in the Steroid Era was finally exposed.  When the government revealed a lack of standard discipline for missing a test and a hidden escape clause that granted Selig the discretion to either suspend a player for a trivial ten days or fine first time offenders,  it prompted Senator John McCain to publicly exclaim, "It just seems to me they (MLB) can't be trusted."   

Ultimately government pressure forced Selig to adopt real substantive penalties and baseball was moderately successful in catching some users.  But the years of deliberately ignoring the problem had done irreparable damage.  In 2007 Selig was forced to endure dual embarrassments. Barry Bonds defiled the single most cherished statistical record in sports as he surpassed Hank Aaron’s home run total and the Mitchell report was released, finally giving the public a small glimpse at how far PED’s had infested and corrupted the game under Selig’s watch.   

There were no suspensions levied against any of the players named by Mitchell in 2007.  BALCO conspirators Roger Clemens and Bonds were allowed to slink off into retirement and Jason Giambi was given a pass because of his compliance with Mitchell and his charity work, according to Selig. Back then, future hall of famers and charitable rats got a pass from Uncle Bud.  

Now, with the end of his tenure as commissioner in sight, Bumbling Bud wants to put The Clear back in the bottle.  Unfortunately for Selig, banning a washed up and unloved A-Rod for life won’t help.  Never mind that he has no real basis to do so.  

He can claim that A-Rod willfully attempted to deceive the Biogenesis investigation and that deserves further punishment. Melky Cabrera, in an attempt to disguise his PED use, went so far as to create a fictitious website and fabricate an over the counter supplement responsible for his failed test. Cabrera still only received 50 games.  

In 2011, Ryan Braun reportedly failed a steroid test with a testosterone count so high he was immediately eligible to be inducted into the East German Woman’s Swimming Hall Of Fame. He won his appeal on a technicality, made a public mockery of Selig and his testing program, but he was allowed to pick the time and length of his punishment when his name came up in Biogenesis’ ledgers.

Making an example of A-Rod is a desperate attempt to put a Band-Aid on the gaping wound Selig helped create.  The “Best Interests of Baseball” are not being served by burning A-Rod at the stake in a misbegotten witch hunt.  The best interests of this game were repeatedly ignored by Bud.  If Bud used these powers to follow up on Vincent’s memo, maybe PED use would just be a minor footnote today.  If he had taken this hard line when the BALCO scandal broke a decade ago, maybe the games record books don’t look like the results of a double blind clinical trial.  

If the game’s legacy has been forever tainted by Steroids and PEDs, then Bud’s has been irreparably destroyed by them. Selig failed to protect the game he was entrusted with. He failed to protect the players who played the game the right way and the fans that pay to see a game played fairly.  If former players Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose and now Alex Rodriguez can be banned for life for endangering baseball’s integrity, what should happen to the Commissioner that helped destroy it?

When Selig announces the suspensions from the Biogenesis scandal and A-Rod is held up as an example of what happens to PED users, remember it’s not being done in the best interests of Major League Baseball. It’s being done in the best interests of Bud Selig.