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Allan "Bud" Selig

Acting Commissioner of Baseball
1992-July 9, 1998

Ninth Commissioner of Baseball

(page 6)

• On August 1, 2004, Rafael Palmeiro, the player who had so adamantly contended that he never took performance-enhancing drugs, tested positive for steroids. In response, Selig again called for tougher measures and an independent group to handle the drug testing program.

• In September 2005, Fehr proposed a revised drug use penalty plan that called for a 20-game suspension for the first, a 75-game suspension for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third offense, provided that there was "just cause." Just cause would be reviewed and ruled upon by an independent arbitrator. In opposition, Selig stuck to his no-exception policy of "three strikes and you're out."

• Baseball legend Pete Rose's son was arrested for distributing a steroid alternative to minor league players.

• The MLBPA finally agreed with Selig's proposed three strike drug policy, with the exception of amphetamines. The program was potentially weakened by the provision that, after two years of expulsion, a banned player could seek full reinstatement.

• After 14 years as the head of MLB, Bud Selig finally succeeded in locking a drug policy into place. He achieved this by manipulating Congress to his advantage, and, in so doing, swung the pendulum of power away from the union, where it had resided for decades, to the owners. To suggest that he accomplished the approval of a definitive drug policy via earnest, face-to-face negotiations with the MLBPA would be ludicrous. Without the power of Congress behind him, Selig would have accomplished comparatively little on the drug scene. He cajoled Congress in order to get Fehr to buckle under and agree to his terms. Some would say that it got the job done, but it was steroids that actually got the job done for many athletes. Steroids were and are considered unacceptable because their use violates the decency and integrity of the game. Selig's behavior (or lack of it over the years) compromised the integrity of the game. Merely standing on the sideline watching the house burn down is hardly being responsible; waiting until somebody else (Congress) suggests calling in the fire department is hardly being proactive; and having somebody else do your dirty work is not exactly the epitome of ethical conduct.

It is his lack of responsibility and unwillingness to be proactive that led Selig into his next situation, namely, Barry Bonds and the Hank Aaron career home run record. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, baseball records is the career home run record. The legendary Babe Ruth, with 714 career home runs, held the record for many years until it was surpassed by Hammering Hank, with 755. Barry Bonds now stands on the threshold of absolute greatness. As of the close of the 2005 season, Bonds had hit 708 home runs. If he goes on to overtake Ruth, will there be questions? If he overtakes Aaron, will there be questions? The answer is simple — because there are already questions. In fact, there are questions about the legitimacy of Bonds' last 200 or so home runs. There were questions when he eclipsed the 600, 650, and 700 homer threshholds. Unfortunately, none of these questions was ever posed by Commissioner Selig. The man who is "so desperately concerned with the integrity of the game" has (possibly) allowed the game's greatest record to stand in jeopardy owing to the effects of prolonged, illegal steroid use.

The ultimate question that will be asked of Selig is the one that he has said he would hate to face — Why didn't you do something about this problem when you first knew about it? Bud cannot answer this question honestly because, honestly, his passion is not (and has never been) about baseball. It's about money, record-setting attendance figures, and saving face.

…and everybody knows it.

The latest issue facing Selig is whether he is going to investigate Barry Bonds. Another book has emerged in which the author reports that Bonds used steroids. He (Bonds) allegedly first used winstrol, which was linked to Rafael ("I've never used steroids.") Palmeiro, and then began using undetectable designer steroids provided to him by his trainer. His trainer, incidentally, has pled (BALCO case) guilty to money laundering and distributing steroids to elite athletes. He'll be spending a little time in prison.

The same book details the allegation that Gary Sheffield knowingly injected steroids into his system prior to using designer steroids. Is Sheffield a liar? Is the author lying? What is the absolute truth?

Bud Selig is going to take the rest of March 2006 to think about all of this. After all, he has to worry about his legacy as commissioner.

It's not about integrity…it's about saving face.

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