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Baseball goes on

Received quite a bit of e-mail over the weekend regarding my column that suggests it’s time at least to discuss whether performance-enhancing drugs should be legalized. I was somewhat surprised that several of those e-mails either agreed with what I said or stated that I had opened their mind to the issue.

I don’t say that to brag. I do say it, because I think it speaks a lot to what fans think about this ongoing issue (they’re sick of it) and to the general hopelessness many of us have that a leader in any profession (be it President Bush, a CEO of a major company, a pro sports commissioner) will stand up and do the right thing.

The right thing, in this case, would be to ban for life all athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Never gonna happen, of course, because of the lawsuits that would follow, and because _ assuming the testers ever moved ahead of the cheaters, and we got a full, accurate sample of the number of users _ no players would be left.

At any rate, it’s interesting to hear both sides of the debate. Honestly, I’d love to see a pro sports world that’s clean as a baby’s bottom after a bath. But in my opinion, it’s simply not a realistic goal.

What do you, the reader, think?

Anyway, promised some early winners and losers for you last week, so here they are:

THREE WINNERS

1) Stan Conte: The former Giants trainer was trying to the do the right thing by reporting his concerns about Greg Anderson being in the clubhouse and by reporting that some player on the Giants approached Conte about using steroids. Nice to see that some folks in baseball still have the courage to speak out, even if nobody is listening.

2) Jose Canseco: Unbelievably, he continues to be one of the most credible voices in the steroids scandal. Just about everything he wrote in “Juiced” has been borne out to be true.

3) The Boston Red Sox: Not one current player was linked. But there was no conflict of interest regarding George Mitchell.

LOSERS

1) Roger Clemens: The Rocket fuel was artificially enhanced, no matter what he may scream from now until the end of time. Incidentally, from the time Brian McNamee reportedly made his first injection into Clemens’ behind, Clemens has won 136 games. Take half of them away, and Clemens would still be 14 wins shy of 300, and one behind non-Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven on the career list.

2) Brian Sabean: We all knew Barry Bonds ran the Giants’ franchise, but the Mitchell Report showed us to what extent. And the extent to which Sabean went to avoid dealing with Conte’s concerns about steroids provides a ”how-to” on why baseball’s cultural ill was allowed to go unchecked. One more thing: None of this figures to cost Sabean his job.

3) Bud Selig and Donald Fehr: Again, another embodiment of why accountability has become a foreign concept in our country. Selig took no responsibility for the rise of the Steroid Era, even though the Mitchell Report takes him (lightly) to task. And he didn’t even offer up an, “I’m sorry.” Fehr did acknowledge that testing should’ve arrived sooner, but his inference that that the owners hurt their relationship with the players, because they didn’t deliver the report in a timely manner was weak.

And incidentally, on the same subject, am I the only one who doesn’t believe Alex Rodriguez? 

rhurd

  • Carl White

    Dear Mr Hurd,
    Your article in the December 21, 2007 Daily Review,” A-Rod doesn’t flinch, but do we believe?”, leads me to believe you think hiding behind the first amendment of the constitution gives you the right to slander someone. There was nothing in the Mitchell report that even mentioned A-Rod and as far as I know, no one has come forward with evidence that says he ever took performance enhancing drugs. I quote your article, ” But even the confessions come with more than a reasonable doubt, because that’s what happens when you belong to a fraternity of pathological liars”. Were you referring to new reporters who write half truths and lies that they report as news? If you’re half the man you want the drug cheaters in baseball to be, you will apologize for accusing A-Rod of something you haven’t any evidence he ever did. Opinions are not news, some are true, some are false and some half and half, they are just what people think. You just happen to have a forum to be able to express your opinions to many people. After reading your article today, my opinion of you is no better than anyone who has ever cheated in sports. And no, I’m not a Yankee fan or even a fan of A-Rod, just a fan who feels much has been said that is nothing more than opinions about Baseball’s problems. We all fall short in our lives, but falsely accusing someone of something is perhaps as great a sin as doing the wrong yourself. Reporters have a great responsiblity in reporting the news, making up your own news is not needed or appreciated. Stick to the facts in reporting and when the facts don’t support your opinion, think again about expressing it in print.

    Sincerely,

    Carl White
    Hayward, CA

  • Rick Hurd

    Hi Carl:

    I’d like to reply to your points regarding my column of 12/21/07, because several of them are off base.

    1) You are correct in asserting that Alex Rodriguez was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report and that, to this point, no evidence against him exists. Nowhere in my column do I state the opposite. However, in my opinion, that does not mean that everything he says should not be taken without at least a fair dose of skepticism. I, being more skeptical than most, take it with a large does of skepticism. The fault for this does not lie with A-Rod, but rather with his fellow players and athletes who have been caught in far too many lies to assume that everything they said is truthful. As the column states, he may well be telling the truth, but in my opinion, any reasonable-thinking person would have a hard time believing him.

    2) When I refer to “confessions,” I refer only to the confessions of F.P. Santangelo, Andy Pettitte, Fernando Vina and Brian Roberts. Nowhere do I write that I viewed A-Rod’s interview with 60 minutes as a “confession” that I don’t believe.

    3) Nowhere in the column do I accuse A-Rod of using steroids or HGH or any other kind of performance-enhancing drugs. Do I have a hard time believing he didn’t? Yes, I do have a hard time believing that. But I long adopted the view that I assume most players have taken something at some point along the way. Again, blame the players and their union for creating this cynicism.

    4) There are no facts in my column that are incorrect. You may not agree with my opinion, and that’s fine. But the column is factually sound.