The Steroid Era: It's "Buddy" Selig's Fault
The news is about 12 hours old; it has sunk deep into our hearts. The disappointment or shock or unsurprise, whatever your feeling was when you first heard a confirmed account of Alex Rodriguez testing positive for anabolic steroids in 2003, it has passed.
While not condoning the actions of Rodriguez or the 103 other players that were found to have had some form of "foreign" substance in their body, I choose not to put it all on the players' shoulders.
If not all, then part of the blame goes to the man in charge of baseball. The man who made $17 million last year.
The man who in the wake of disinterest in baseball following the strike, decided to look the other way as players were injecting themselves with steroids and reincarnating the great American pastime. I am, of course, talking about the commissioner of baseball, Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, Jr.
Major League Baseball has thrived under the watchful eye of Selig. Undoubtedly, Selig has revived baseball with the realignment of teams into three divisions per league, the introduction of playoff wild card teams, Inter-league play, as well as the additions of two franchises: the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Selig's watch has also included the unification of umpiring crews, under the banner of "MLB" rather than separate league crews. Home field advantage in the World Series granted to the winner of the All Star Game in the same season, the World Baseball Classic, and starting late last year, very limited instant replay.
Baseball economically has flourished under him. Attendance is at record levels, player salaries are out of the universe. There have been 19 new stadiums, with future plans for a place for the Florida Marlins. With the launch of the MLB Network, baseball 24/7, the national pastime went prime-time.
Commissioner Selig, along with baseball owners, enjoyed the sudden influx of millions of dollars. Every aspect of baseball was to be sold to the public for a price.
The fans got attached to the long ball, the home runs. The MLB saw potential and the rest is history as we know it.
Unexplained increase in the home-run totals. Longer, farther, more frequent. Pitchers throwing faster, players' bodies taking on cartoonish shapes.
Players performing at video game levels. All in all, sacred records falling with every at-bat, every pitch, every game racking up alarming profits for teams and the league.
America's pastime marketed its current players around statistics, comparing them to the past greats. Records are meant to be broken, we were told.
Sacred, realistic records, getting shattered by tainted marks of utter greed and irresponsibility. Selig and his men had a responsibility to protect this stream of income at the risk of undermining the legends of this great game.
Amidst the revelations of a few players, Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti, and intense pressures from Congress, baseball reluctantly agreed to begin testing its players. As it turns out, in light of today's revelations, baseball was to protect its most marketed athletes and on rare occasions release a name of a minor leaguer or a lifetime scrub as having failed its testing and have him suspended.
Today is not the first time baseball has tried to put a list of failed testees under the rug. Rafael Palmeiro was given a chance by the Commissioner's office to reach the illustrious 3,000-hit mark.
This occurred after having failed a drug test months before celebrating this rare achievement. Oriole fans stood up and cheered him on, baseball paused and applauded his achievement, even the commissioner congratulated him, all along knowing he was full of "horse crap."
Regardless of no punishments for using performance enhancing drugs at the time, fans should not have been sold tainted goods. For the sake of a few dollars, the Commissioner should not have tarnished the record books.
The Commissioner turned a blind eye and let players inject each other in the buttocks, and we all came along for the ride, the big phony ride.
What the $17 million ignorant man doesn't realize is that he ruined the game for everyone. For the players of the past, whose numbers got buried by the "asterisk" holders of the current era.
Most importantly, and unfortunately, the future players, who regardless of their cleanliness and squeakiness will always be looked at as "hmmm, maybe he is on..."
Thank You Owners and players "buddy".
Baseball's "Buddy" Selig
Commissioner of Baseball with an asterisk.
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