added 6/6/2013 by Scott Barzilla
It's happened yet again. Bud Selig and his band of buffoons has managed to bungle yet another drug related scandal. On Tuesday, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" broke the biggest story of the baseball year so far.
It seems that Biogenesis of America founder Tony Bosch is ready to turn states evidence so to speak. Of course, MLB has no legal authority to compel him to spill the beans but, since his company is going belly up anyway, he decided to rat out 20 or so players.
When the story broke, I had an uneasy feeling. Something just didn't seem quite right. I suppose the good part about rooting for a losing team is that there isn't anyone on the Astros that I fear losing. Fernando Martinez is the only Astro that has been implicated and he can't even break the 25-man roster. So, this uneasy feeling had nothing to do with our local nine. At least, there is nothing directly there.
When I think back to the Mitchell Report, some of this comes into focus. Since Senator George Mitchell had no subpoena power he had no ability to get to the bottom of the drug problem. Quite honestly, his report should have never seen the light of day. He had the drug problem somehow isolated to the Bay Area and the Northeast. Other players were linked largely through innuendo and circumstantial evidence. If this had happened 400 years ago, someone would be crying "Witch!" and attaching a stone to their feet to see if it would float.
This isn't to say I am totally sympathetic to the players. Watching Ryan Braun at the press conference after he was found not guilty by technicality was disgusting. We all knew he was guilty and he knows it too. The fact that this Bosch character is going to rat them out just confirms what we already knew.
Additionally, Alex Rodriguez’ "admissions" rang hollow at the time. He supposedly used only in Texas after getting the biggest contract in history and stopped once he got to the bright lights of New York. Sure, we believed you, Alex.
All that said, let's consider this for what it really is. These are ordinary people that are using illegal drugs. Whether the U.S. government considers them illegal or the governing body of the sport, makes no particular difference. The U.S. has been fighting its war on drugs for nearly half a century and there has been limited success depending on your perspective. The baseball community has been fighting its war for at least twenty years or as many as forty depending on who you might believe. As long as Bud Selig has been commissioner, he has found a way to screw it up.
In the real world of justice, you never use a pusher to get to a user. After all, a user is only one man (or woman) while a pusher or manufacturer could affect hundreds if not thousands. If MLB really thinks that its drug problem is isolated to BALCO in the Bay Area and Biogenesis in Miami, then they are bigger dopes than I give them credit for. The fact is that since they don't have the power to compel private citizens to say anything leaves them blind. It also renders their only real power as useless.
What real leverage do they have against the other Bosches of the world? Are they going to ban them from MLB stadiums for life? Put the wanted poster on the clubhouse door? They are at the mercy of luck or divine providence to even find out who these people are. They really only have one chip to play and they refuse to pay it. It's the same chip that the justice system uses every day in the drug war: get users to turn in their dealers/suppliers.
We can argue for hours about the U.S. drug war. The baseball drug war is very similar. Most of that argument will center on whether we can expect success or not. In baseball, that success is dependent on a number of things. If MLB were to approach Ryan Braun and ask him to finger his supplier in exchange for a shorter suspension, they may have something there. They could do it for every player that tests positive. It could be a simple cut-your-suspension-in-half proposition.
Like everything else in life, we have to acknowledge that there is no perfect solution. By making such deals you would get to more suppliers, but you can never get to them all. You can find more cheaters through blood tests, but you will never find them all. Long suspensions will scare off a number of players, but many will continue to cheat. It's all about playing the odds and the odds are better when you use users to get to pushers instead of using pushers to get to users.
Baseball already has one thing going for it that society does not. Drug use is seen as so negative in the eyes of baseball writers that players risk their reputations and even the chance at the Hall of Fame for using. That's something regular society can't boast when it comes to drugs. This is the number one blight on Bud Selig's career and for once it has nothing to do with Houston.
For all of the gains he has made in testing and suspensions, he gave up that and more in the haphazard way he handled the issue altogether. First, he ignored it until he was called on the carpet for ignoring it then he sprang into action like he does every time he reacts to a crisis. There is little planning or forethought, only half-hearted gestures and hair-brained schemes. MLB will eventually suspend most if not all of those 20 or so names, but how many are they missing by putting their trust in the hands of a pusher/manufacturer rather than using the power they have over the players to get them to rat out the suppliers?