Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Time For Baseball to Come Clean

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The worst commissioner in any major sport was on Capitol Hill yesterday with union bigwig Donald Fehr talking steroids. Too bad for them the questioning went in a different direction:

Nevertheless, it was amphetamines that left baseball looking flat-footed Tuesday when Commissioner Bud Selig and the players union executive director Donald Fehr joined Mr. Mitchell to discuss his report’s findings before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Amid discussion of steroids and human growth hormone, amid an atmosphere more tame than tempestuous, it was Representative John F. Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat, who caught everyone’s attention when he asked why the number of major leaguers claiming therapeutic-use exemptions for attention deficit disorder had mushroomed to 103 this past season from 28 in 2006.

To Mr. Tierney, the implication of the sharp increase was clear. Players were brazenly getting around the ban on amphetamines by making attention deficit disorder claims that allowed them to use stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall. Based on the 2007 numbers, Mr. Tierney said, the use of such stimulants among major leaguers was “almost eight times the adult use in our population.”
A good question Congressman. Too bad old Bud and Don didn't have the answer.

Fortunately, there is a player who has the one and only answer to that congressional query:

TEMPLE, Texas -- Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman has definitive opinions about the controversies surrounding the aftermath of the Mitchell Report, and he's not afraid to share his thoughts.

Berkman is adamant that there is only one way to end the "Steroid Era" once and for all: blood testing.

Count Berkman as one who will race to the front of the line should Major League Baseball develop a blood test that can accurately detect the use of human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs.
Fehr would not and could not agree to that if the players were against it but the bad publicity this issue has casued the league may well force his hand. I agree with Berkman, random blood testing at the conclusion of every game. Generally I'm libertarian on issues such as this and believe that urinalysis and blood testing are gross invasions of ones privacy. That said, the integrity of the game is at stake and baseball is riding a crest of popularity right now. If they want to destroy the good will that has developed between fans and teams, maintain the status quo and all that was gained since the strike will be lost.

I'm a baseball junkie with no regrets, I live and die with the Phillies on a daily basis. Their play the night before dictates my mood the next day. My son works out four to five nights a week with some of the best young baseball talent on the East coast, I want those young men to have the opportunity to play in a league that is drug free.

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