Two out in ninth inning for baseball credibility

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 15, 2004

If you can throw a baseball 90 miles per hour or hit one out ofthe park, you can do anything you want — including taking steroidsto do those tasks better.

That’s the apparent message the Major League Baseball PlayersAssociation is sending to the rest of the sports world and to themillions of young people who look up to members of that union.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Major League Baseball andNational Football League leaders and union heads last week thattheir sports had a “legitimacy problem.” He said the problem shouldbe of particular concern for baseball.

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“As your athletes get bigger and stronger, the credibility ofyour product in the eyes of the public gets weaker,” McCain saidduring a congressional hearing.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged that work needs tobe done, but he pointed to the baseball players’ union as aroadblock to those efforts.

McCain and Selig are right.

After 5 to 7 percent of MLB players tested positive for steroidson tests that were expected this year, more tests are planned nextyear. However, a player won’t get a year’s suspension until thefifth offense.

In the game of baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out.

When illegal substances are involved, three strikes are toomany, and five strikes are an absolute joke. Baseball leagueofficials are complicit by agreeing to such silliness duringcontract negotiations with the union.

In the wake of a federal steroids investigation of a SanFrancisco-area lab, several players linked to the probe havevolunteered to take drug tests to prove they are clean. Nope, saidthe union bosses, that’s a violation of the collective bargainingagreement.

Multi-million dollar salaries for people to play a game havealready turned some fans off. Finding out that some players areessentially cheating by taking performance-enhancing drugs willkeep more fans away from parks and stadiums.

Tests show that a small percentage of players are takingsteroids. Until baseball and the players’ union get truly seriousabout testing players and suspending offenders, fans of the greatgame will never know how many others are, too.