Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Juice hits Capitol Hill

So apparently Major League Baseball (MLB) is closing out one of its most dark and shameful eras in its prestigious history, an end that had some of the game’s biggest names testifying before congress. An era that saw some of the most hallowed records in baseball surpassed presumably by the power of performance-enhancing drugs and the players who used them

And Major League Baseball could not be happier. Not because the “steroid era” and the devastation it caused the game is finally coming to an end, but because baseball has never been more profitable. A record $6 billion in revenues last season, TV ratings at an all time high and record advance tickets sales all while our economy is said to be headed for a recession.

Truth be said, MLB has no one to blame for the Mitchell Report (an examination into steroids and baseball by former senator George Mitchell) but itself; after all, commissioner Bud Selig did ask Mitchell to investigate steroids and baseball, knowingly sending his league to the guillotine. This after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 created criminal penalties for those who “distribute or possess anabolic steroids,” making it illegal for any person to use the drugs.

Former Padres general manager Randy Smith was quoted by Bob Nightengale of The Los Angeles Times as saying, “We all know there’s steroid use, and it’s definitely becoming more prevalent.” In this same article, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tony Gwynn states: “It’s like the big secret we’re not supposed to talk about.”

So basically, a decade of smoke, and we all know that when there’s smoke, there’s fire.

This was much deeper than the cocaine trials of 80’s, deeper than gambling allegations against Pete Rose; this went from the clubhouse all the way to the owners’ box, touching everything in between.

When America watched as Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy took after Roger Meris’ single-season home run record, baseball fans loved it. And when the steroid precursor androstenedione was found in Mcgwire’s locker, revealing a shocking truth on what the game had become, we struggled as fans.

The players and owners on August 7, 2002 agreed to their first joint drug program since 1985, calling for anonymous testing. The agreement was that if more than five percent of the test was positive in 2003 or 2004, players would be randomly tested.

Players wouldn’t be punished for positive tests. On Nov. 13, 2003 the league reported that of 1,438 anonymous tests, between five and seven percent were positive, triggering the start of random testing.

For the first offense, a cruel punishment of counseling. My opinion is that if baseball and the players union were not so interested in protecting their players from public embarrassment, there could have been a stronger drug policy already in place, without the help of congress and George Mitchell.

After all, congress has things like health reform, social security, terrorism, immigration and probably a couple other things on their plate.

MLB and the owners certainly didn’t condone steroids, but they definitely didn’t make any attempts to prevent them from making their way into the league. When President Bush signed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 into law, I wonder if he was thinking about his experience as the owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989-1997 and all the suspicious names he managed: Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmiero, Ivan Rodriguez, Julio Franco and, everyone’s favorite author and expert on steroids, Jose Canseco.

What a story. This whole thing has movie deal written all over it. And somewhere Pete Rose is singing and dancing after being replaced by this most recent baseball blooper.

Roger Clemens, alongside former teammate Andy Pettitte and former trainer Brian Mcnamee, is scheduled to defend his name by testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 13. This should make for some good C-SPAN.

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