Monday, March 14, 2005

NRO on Tom Davis & Steroids Hearing

Anyone care to opine here? I tepidly agree: there's no question Davis is grandstanding (and Waxman and all the other Congressmen on the committee). My entirely-un-unique theory is that Davis, Waxman, etc are betting that public sentiment is on their side, and that there is little to be lost (PR-wise) in undertaking a hearing. It gets them on the front pages of the papers, makes them look hard on moral values, and ultimately gives voice to the disgust that most voters feel when they read about all the players that were juicing. That is, voters will get a little vengeance when the players are sitting in front of cameras answering hard questions (defined as anything not asked by Dan Patrick - see below for more) about their drug usage. Whether that is a healthy function for a Congressional committee is another question.

But at the same time, why don't they haul up the real culprits, the commissioner and MLBPA heads who let the lax drug policy serve as law? Hell, they're the ones who did the real disservice - technically, Bonds, Giambi, Canseco, and so forth were all still within the rules of the game, even if they were outside the bounds of the public's approval.

I welcome comments here, particularly if you think I'm wrong on this one.

7 Comments:

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

As I stated above: of course Congress is grandstanding. That's what Congressmen do. On that point, I agree with NRO, although I do believe that Congressional hearings have been held in connection with less pressing issues. Like it or not, this issue does fall within Congress' purview. That doesn't mean the hearings are a good idea. In my opinion, especially given the ongoing BALCO investigation, the hearings present a bit of separation of powers issue -- that is, one could argue that Congress is usurping powers of the executive and judicial branches

But hold on, Bo -- I've got to take issue with your statement: "...technically, Bonds, Giambi, Canseco, and so forth were all still within the rules of the game..." Bonds, Canseco, et. al. were not only outside "the bounds of the public's approval," they were beyond the bounds of federal law. I don't think one can persuasively argue that because baseball had a lax drug policy, it sent an implicit message that violations of federal drug law in pursuit of a competitive advantage was "within the rules of the game." The steroid-abusers do NOT have at their disposal the argument that they lacked fair notice; they knew, as well as every male teenager in the country knows that steroid use is against the law, and by extension, against the rules of the game.

 
At 12:38 AM, Blogger Bo said...

here's my response, Nate:

Personally, I believe that baseball tacitly approved of the juicing of its players. I think there are compelling arguments to be made that this juicing (I'm assuming that both players were on steroids) resurrected the game's lagging interest during the McGwire/Sosa HR chase. I think that team owners, recognizing the financial and PR windfall that 71 home runs bring to their sport, were for the vast majority unconcerned, at best, and likely happy that players were loading up. I also think the argument that owners/managers "weren't aware" of what was going on during the late '90's is absolutely ridiculous and insults the intelligence of anyone who has set foot in a weight room. I think Bud Selig recognized what was happening, but didn't care enough to make a huge issue out of the steroids-testing in the labor agreement (that is, if Selig had wanted to, he could have taken the case public, via ESPN, and forced the MLBPA's hand, much as we are seeing the public's anger manifest itself now). Finally, I also think that some very powerful, influential players were against testing (again, for obvious reasons that are apparent now), and the powerful, influential agents of said players were able to force the MLBPA to conform to their position, given their status within the sport and their agents' status as power brokers.

Now, having said all that, I agree that I shouldn't have said they were technically within the rules of the game (it was late, what can I say). But I do believe that to lay the blame solely at the feet of the players is wrong, although it goes against my general instincts as a conservative. . .that is, the individual is responsible for his own actions.

Let me put it this way: Bonds & Co. were outside the technical bounds of the game's rules. But the atmosphere fostered by the owners, the MLBPA, the commissioner, and to some degree certain players appear, from my perspective, to have offered tacit approval, and not only offered tacit approval, but quietly acknowledged that the steroids weren't going to become a public issue (that is, I think it was understood that players wouldn't be called out on it or have to face the music. . .at least until now). Given that I believe this environment existed, it's like saying "Bob, please don't steal this Ferrari" while at the same time acknowledging that there is no real way to see if I've stolen the car, that the car dealership will actually benefit monetarily from my taking the car, that my co-workers and buddies won't tell if I steal the car, and that by stealing the car, I might be able to make more money for my other co-workers (more revenue = more salary money).

My point? That the players are fucknuts for juicing, but that they ought to haul all of those other assholes (Selig, Fehr, their respective offices, and the owners) up to the Hill as well, and embarrass their asses on C-SPAN too. Because they helped to create this environment where, in order to be a superstar, you had to juice because all the other players, whose natural abilities mirrored yours, were doing it and outperforming you.

So yes, I concede that it was technically outside the rules of the game. It's just that I don't think anyone had any interest in enforcing the rules of the game, and by such neglect, the rules of the game don't really carry that much water. . .hence, my belief that untechnically (or however you want to put it) they were within the parameters of the game. At least, the game of the 1990's.

 
At 12:39 AM, Blogger Bo said...

here's my response, Nate:

Personally, I believe that baseball tacitly approved of the juicing of its players. I think there are compelling arguments to be made that this juicing (I'm assuming that both players were on steroids) resurrected the game's lagging interest during the McGwire/Sosa HR chase. I think that team owners, recognizing the financial and PR windfall that 71 home runs bring to their sport, were for the vast majority unconcerned, at best, and likely happy that players were loading up. I also think the argument that owners/managers "weren't aware" of what was going on during the late '90's is absolutely ridiculous and insults the intelligence of anyone who has set foot in a weight room. I think Bud Selig recognized what was happening, but didn't care enough to make a huge issue out of the steroids-testing in the labor agreement (that is, if Selig had wanted to, he could have taken the case public, via ESPN, and forced the MLBPA's hand, much as we are seeing the public's anger manifest itself now). Finally, I also think that some very powerful, influential players were against testing (again, for obvious reasons that are apparent now), and the powerful, influential agents of said players were able to force the MLBPA to conform to their position, given their status within the sport and their agents' status as power brokers.

Now, having said all that, I agree that I shouldn't have said they were technically within the rules of the game (it was late, what can I say). But I do believe that to lay the blame solely at the feet of the players is wrong, although it goes against my general instincts as a conservative. . .that is, the individual is responsible for his own actions.

Let me put it this way: Bonds & Co. were outside the technical bounds of the game's rules. But the atmosphere fostered by the owners, the MLBPA, the commissioner, and to some degree certain players appear, from my perspective, to have offered tacit approval, and not only offered tacit approval, but quietly acknowledged that the steroids weren't going to become a public issue (that is, I think it was understood that players wouldn't be called out on it or have to face the music. . .at least until now). Given that I believe this environment existed, it's like saying "Bob, please don't steal this Ferrari" while at the same time acknowledging that there is no real way to see if I've stolen the car, that the car dealership will actually benefit monetarily from my taking the car, that my co-workers and buddies won't tell if I steal the car, and that by stealing the car, I might be able to make more money for my other co-workers (more revenue = more salary money).

My point? That the players are fucknuts for juicing, but that they ought to haul all of those other assholes (Selig, Fehr, their respective offices, and the owners) up to the Hill as well, and embarrass their asses on C-SPAN too. Because they helped to create this environment where, in order to be a superstar, you had to juice because all the other players, whose natural abilities mirrored yours, were doing it and outperforming you.

So yes, I concede that it was technically outside the rules of the game. It's just that I don't think anyone had any interest in enforcing the rules of the game, and by such neglect, the rules of the game don't really carry that much water. . .hence, my belief that untechnically (or however you want to put it) they were within the parameters of the game. At least, the game of the 1990's.

 
At 12:39 AM, Blogger Bo said...

here's my response, Nate:

Personally, I believe that baseball tacitly approved of the juicing of its players. I think there are compelling arguments to be made that this juicing (I'm assuming that both players were on steroids) resurrected the game's lagging interest during the McGwire/Sosa HR chase. I think that team owners, recognizing the financial and PR windfall that 71 home runs bring to their sport, were for the vast majority unconcerned, at best, and likely happy that players were loading up. I also think the argument that owners/managers "weren't aware" of what was going on during the late '90's is absolutely ridiculous and insults the intelligence of anyone who has set foot in a weight room. I think Bud Selig recognized what was happening, but didn't care enough to make a huge issue out of the steroids-testing in the labor agreement (that is, if Selig had wanted to, he could have taken the case public, via ESPN, and forced the MLBPA's hand, much as we are seeing the public's anger manifest itself now). Finally, I also think that some very powerful, influential players were against testing (again, for obvious reasons that are apparent now), and the powerful, influential agents of said players were able to force the MLBPA to conform to their position, given their status within the sport and their agents' status as power brokers.

Now, having said all that, I agree that I shouldn't have said they were technically within the rules of the game (it was late, what can I say). But I do believe that to lay the blame solely at the feet of the players is wrong, although it goes against my general instincts as a conservative. . .that is, the individual is responsible for his own actions.

Let me put it this way: Bonds & Co. were outside the technical bounds of the game's rules. But the atmosphere fostered by the owners, the MLBPA, the commissioner, and to some degree certain players appear, from my perspective, to have offered tacit approval, and not only offered tacit approval, but quietly acknowledged that the steroids weren't going to become a public issue (that is, I think it was understood that players wouldn't be called out on it or have to face the music. . .at least until now). Given that I believe this environment existed, it's like saying "Bob, please don't steal this Ferrari" while at the same time acknowledging that there is no real way to see if I've stolen the car, that the car dealership will actually benefit monetarily from my taking the car, that my co-workers and buddies won't tell if I steal the car, and that by stealing the car, I might be able to make more money for my other co-workers (more revenue = more salary money).

My point? That the players are fucknuts for juicing, but that they ought to haul all of those other assholes (Selig, Fehr, their respective offices, and the owners) up to the Hill as well, and embarrass their asses on C-SPAN too. Because they helped to create this environment where, in order to be a superstar, you had to juice because all the other players, whose natural abilities mirrored yours, were doing it and outperforming you.

So yes, I concede that it was technically outside the rules of the game. It's just that I don't think anyone had any interest in enforcing the rules of the game, and by such neglect, the rules of the game don't really carry that much water. . .hence, my belief that untechnically (or however you want to put it) they were within the parameters of the game. At least, the game of the 1990's.

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

OK, I get it already.

Just kidding, but seriously, I think the committee did call on Selig and representatives of the MLBPA to testify on day one of the hearings.

I agree with what you're saying about implicit approval in that no one team wanted to unilaterally disarm. It's a valid point. But I still think the primary responsibility for this mess resides with those individuals who broke federal drug laws: the players. Is the person who suspects a crime may be committed, but has no actual knowledge of it, as culpable as the perpetrator of the crime? Not in my opinion.

Yes, the owners should have taken more proactive steps to police steroid use, but I do think you may be overestimating their observation skills -- would it naturally occur to a bunch of 65 year-old millionaires that his players are using illegal drugs? Some of them -- sure. Did managers know? Surely some of them suspected something was up, but then again, you've got guys like Felipe Alou that A) probably never visits the gym, and B) appears to have someone else dress him every morning.

As for the players, you would think the union wouldn't be so susceptible to a few major players and their agents; after all, the union exists (one presumes) to protect Joe Ballplayer rather than Barry Bonds. One would think that Joe Ballplayer would have a strong interest in preventing the type of atmosphere that apparently took hold -- one in which players almost felt compelled to juice just to keep up. How did this happen? In my opinion: because very few major leaguers think they are merely "average" -- they saw what steroids did for an average Ken Caminiti, a mediocre Sosa, a talented but scrawny Bonds, and they foresee themselves cashing in similarly when their ships come in.

My only point: there is plenty of blame to go around, to be sure. But who had the most control over the situation? Surely it's not the owners. The players were the ones who chose to use, to the detriment of their own health and in violation of federal law. I believe they deserve the lion's share of the blame.

 
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