Friday, December 14, 2007

Mitchell musings ...

I am sure you’re all burned out reading commentary and post mortems on the Mitchell Report. I did read the whole thing from Genesis to Revelation and while it had some useful recommendations, it struck me as more geared toward satisfying the public and Congress rather than anything meaningful. Selig’s comments in the aftermath confirmed this feeling; I get the sense he is still trying to re-write history in his favour.

He wants to be known as the commissioner who ended the steroid era and not the one who allowed it to happen. Most of my brain dump was done on MSN Canada and should be up soon. I did have one epiphany that I didn’t have before that I touched on my yet to be published article that I hadn’t really thought much about before--the black market.

One of the things about obtaining anabolic steroids is that they have to be purchased in that manner. There are no quality controls with black market drugs and all too often, this is how players received these substances. These chemicals are produced in unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and God only knows what else is in them. This is why places like BALCO and Kirk Radomski were so appealing--at least the players knew that the drugs wouldn’t be contaminated.

To me, this is where the MLBPA failed miserably. They never perceived that ownership was O.K. with the players using these substances because it helped them recover from injury faster and it improved performance among superstar talent. It was making them large amounts of money. The union allowed a multi-tiered uneven playing field between users and non-users and those who could afford substances that were more sophisticated and those that were not. Those on the cusp of the big leagues who didn’t have multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts to fund high-grade anabolics were forced to turn to dangerous black market steroids to win or retain a big league job.

Think about it; these young players needed to be protected from the MLBPA as much as ownership. It was the MLBPA that fought tooth-and-nail to keep an environment where young people had to decide between black market drugs and their dreams. The union hasn’t been reticent about their disdain about the Mitchell Report but guess what? They could have commissioned their own study and implement changes themselves to keep the playing field even and safe.

The union is an organization that fights hard against a business that tries to maximize profits at all costs--even if it is done in an unethical fashion. Sadly, the MLBPA is an association that attempts to maximize salaries at all costs--even if it means obligating young men to take hazardous black market anabolic steroids if they wish to join.

Don Fehr and Gene Orza’s single-minded devotion to the salary bar created a hazardous working environment for its constituents. I am skeptical about the Mitchell Report myself, but they have lost the moral high ground because they showed a slavish devotion to lucre. They have to accept equal blame with ownership for this mess. They cannot complain about the Mitchell Report for the simple reason that they could have done something themselves but neglected to do so. They were quite content to continue with a situation where young men had to take dangerous health risks since it helped the quest to push up the salary bar.

How is that any less exploitive than ownership that had pitchers throw both ends of a doubleheader or had stadiums without padding on outfield walls because it improved the bottom line? Before Messersmith/McNally, the superstars were protected by ownership while lesser players were deemed expendable and replaceable. Now superstar salaries are protected by the MLBPA while lesser players are no less expendable and replaceable. Repeatedly, the union tried to allow elite talent to whatever was needed to secure contracts that pushed up the salary bar even if it meant that the rank-and-file had to subject themselves to terrible health risks.

The bottom line is this: George Mitchell’s report is a self-serving exercise designed to pressure the union and burnish Bud Selig’s image. However, regardless of motives behind it, it was an attempt to do something about MLB’s steroid problem. It was one more thing than the MLBPA did--the union chose to do nothing about improving the working conditions of their constituents.

Right now, Bud Selig, Bob Dupuy, Don Fehr and Gene Orza have one thing in common. Their eyes are so blinded by dollar signs that nobody is truly looking out for the players’ best interests.

Cleaning fish…

For those of you that missed it, my latest gutting and filleting of Jeffrey Loria and David ‘he could be taller if took Viagra’ Samson is up at The Hardball Times. If Bud Selig is interested in acting in the ‘best interests of baseball’ why hasn’t he awarded these two a franchise in Atlantis?

Best Regards


1 comment:

Bill B. (Crashburn Alley) said...

Loved your unique take on it, John.

In talking about the market, I think we need to realize what always causes them: restriction. What happened when alcohol was banned from 1920-33? A black market appeared and non-professionals were making and selling their own alcohol.

Even look at our current "war on drugs." Only medical institutions are allowed to grow marijuana, but it's rampant across the country, despite its illegality.

As much as you can blame the union for the black markets, you can (and should) also blame MLB as a whole for enacting these unnecessary drug rules.