Storin: PED mess hovering over baseball

storapse@aol.comAugust 1, 2013 

Maybe you noticed last weekend that there were no living inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It was quite fitting since most of the baseball headlines this season have centered on the latest performance-enhancing drug scandal -- the suspension of Ryan Braun, the likely suspensions of at least 12 other players and the soap opera surrounding the shaky future of Alex Rodriguez.

Unless you've shut off all contact with media outlets, you are aware that it was the baseball drug scandal that influenced the Hall of Fame vote in December. Not a single living former baseball player was able to garner the 75 percent vote required for entrance.

Thus, the biggest news coming out of Cooperstown, N.Y., last weekend was generated by Pete Rose, a man suspended from baseball since 1989 for gambling on games when he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

Rose, who has been passed over annually by the HOF voters, was in Cooperstown, where he has signed autographs every year since 1994. As usual, he was happy to voice his opinion. This time he touched on a good question in an interview with USA Today.

"What's worse (using PEDs or gambling on games)? They're both bad." he said. "But the most important thing in baseball -- the history of baseball -- is the statistics. I did nothing to alter any stats."

Rose points out that his record 4,257 hits were not a product of his gambling. Meanwhile, PEDs had a major impact on baseball records set over the last 15 years.

"I did nothing that would tick Babe Ruth off," Rose said. "I did nothing that would tick Roger Maris off. Or Hank Aaron. Those are the guys whose records have been assaulted by steroids."

As the only living person banned for life from baseball, Rose thinks that Braun caught a break.

"Braun has got to feel pretty fortunate to get (suspended for) 65 games," Rose said.

From reports I've been reading recently, Rose is not the only baseball person who is thinking that Braun's penalty, which also includes a loss of $3.2 million of a $150 million contract, was only a slap on the wrist.

More and more current and former major league players are speaking out and saying what was once unthinkable.

"Lifetime ban," said Skip Schumaker, a Los Angeles Dodgers utility player.

"The players are in favor of stricter penalties and they're also in favor of voiding contracts," Schumaker said last week. "Not that I can speak for everybody, but just let's say a few of my good friends are high-profile players and they're in favor of cleaning up the game."

Schumaker may be in the minority, but it is a minority that is growing.

Max Scherzer, a union player rep in Detroit, recently told USA Today that he thought the Milwaukee Brewers should have the "ability to terminate Braun's contract." Other angry players were saying the same thing off the record.

So how about it Mr. Commissioner?

Long-suffering readers of this column are welcome at this point to say: "Oh, not another shot at Bud Selig?"

Yep. The revisiting of the Pete Rose suspension reminds me of the contrast between Selig and A. Bartlett Giamatti, the commissioner who handed out the lifetime suspension of Rose in 1989.

Giamatti acted quickly and decisively when an investigation, instigated by the new commissioner in his first year on the job, determined that Rose had bet on games when he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

How would Giamatti, who died while in office in 1989, have handled the situation when steroids were found in Mark McGwire's locker in 1998, the year when his 70 home runs set the all-time record?

Of course we'll never know, but I'm betting he wouldn't have waited seven years, as Selig did, to open an investigation into the use of PEDs in baseball.

Selig, one-time owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, has been the man in charge since his buddies ousted Fay Vincent and made Bud Light "interim" commissioner in 1992. Then, the very same year -- 1998, when all those PED homers were flying out of ballparks -- they removed interim from the title.

Now, nearly 20 years after the steroids discussion began, Selig is still trying to catch up.

Rodriguez may turn out to be the Pete Rose of Selig's reign, but way too late. History will always label the title page of his legacy: Ruler of the Steroids Era.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service