Jockbeat: A-Rod And The Record Books


How about a drug test for everyone commenting on the A-Rod scandal?  Let’s start with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who according to USA Today, says that he’s ” ‘just heartsick’ about Alex Rodriguez’s admission of performance-enhancing drug use and would not rule out punishing him or adjusting baseball’s record book.”

This is more of the empty rhetoric and pointless grandstanding from Selig that helped get us to this mess in the first place. Selig knows that he has no such power.

After years of trying to impose its will on the players union, MLB finally struck a bargain in 2003 for random testing. It isn’t possible that Selig is foolish enough to think that he can override that agreement and retroactively impose punishments on what players did before the agreement went into effect in 2004.

Moreover, is Selig seriously thinking of singling out Rodriguez for such punishment,  or are the other 103 players on “the list” going to be
outed and punished as well – in defiance of MLB’s own agreement with the union?

USA Today‘s Christine Brennan, who ought to know better, thinks we’ll all be going to hell in a bullpen cart “Unless … Selig does something about it. Unless he finally gets angry enough to take matters in his own hands and do what commissioners of sports are supposed to do, and, in the ‘best interests’ of the game suspend Rodriguez … Suspend him for 50 games, suspend him for a week.  Just suspend him.”

This is reckless and irresponsible pamphleteering, not worthy of Brennan. From where does an experienced reporter like Brennan think that Bud Selig would derive such power? The so-called “best interests of the game” of the commissioner apply only to the interests of the men who pay his salary, i.e., the major league baseball owners. The only power Selig has over the players are those that have been negotiated and incorporated into the Basic Agreement with the union. Bud Selig doesn’t have the power to force Alex Rodriguez or any other player to answer the phone if they don’t want to take the call.

Nor is it at all clear that Selig has any power at all to alter baseball’s record book – though everyone seems to think that he does.  For instance, Bill Madden of the Daily News, who in today’s column writes, “This he can do, under the commissioner’s all-encompassing ‘best interests of baseball’ powers” — that again — “One of his predecessors, Ford Frick, just did that in 1961 when he ruled that Maris [Roger] should have an asterisk next to his one-season record of 61 home runs because it was done in 162 games as opposed to the 154 games Babe Ruth established his record of 60 in 1927.”  That’s not a sentence, Bill, but we get your message.

First all, the Maris asterisk never existed. Frick never imposed it and never claimed to have the power to do so – and he confirmed that in his autobiography. Second, if Selig does start fiddling with the record book, is it going to include players who have tested positive for all substances or only those known to have enhanced performance. And precisely which would the latter be and whose word will be taken that what they used they did enhance performance?

Our guess is that when Selig gathers his wits he’ll understand that its in the “best interests of the game” to keep his mouth shut and do nothing about the record book.


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