Thursday, February 12, 2009

103: The Names Which Must Stay Secret

Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have given an era of baseball a black eye.

George Mitchell provided the knock-out blow.

And, now, Alex Rodriguez's name has been released as one of 104 players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003 during an anonymous drug test for the purpose of determining if mandatory drug tests were necessary.

Cue the clamors for a public release of the other 103 names.

"It's unfair to A-Rod!" "The rest of the players are innocent and we should know who they are!" "Because the people -- baseball fans -- deserve to know!"

Here's my request: stop telling me who did steroids in the past and work on eliminating steroid use in the future.

The Mitchell Report has forever legitimized the practice of investigating PEDs for the purpose of exposing the "cheaters."

A 409-page report which detailed Major League Baseball's failure to adequately respond to the problem of steroids has been boiled down to a he-said, he-said court battle between Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee.

A 409-page report which proposed substantive changes in the infrastructure of Major League Baseball is remembered for 87 names.

A 409-page report which was supposed to prove that a problem exists across the entire league relied on two sources. And they are both criminals.

However, the primary issue with the Mitchell Report is that it came with the implicit message that the list of players mentioned was exhaustive -- that players not on the list are innocent. And now we learn that, in 2003, 104 players tested positive for PED use.

Where does it stop? How many lists of names need to come out before we take a page out of Mark McGwire's book and stop talking about the past?

Let's look past the "fairness" issue as it pertains to Alex Rodriguez. He cheated, and he admitted it. He lost the right to "fairness" a long time ago.

Let's also ignore the plea from baseball fans that they have some inherent right to see who cheated. This list of 104 players was supposed to be kept secret, and everyone was willing to turn a blind eye when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire rescued the game from "The Strike Era."

And let's be honest: people want to see the list because they are interested in tabloid news.

The best argument for releasing the other 103 names is that the presence of the anonymous list casts a shadow of doubt over the rest of the league; fans and media sources will continuously speculate on whom that list contains.

The problem with this argument is that the speculation never stops. We are entrenched in an era of baseball that has been forever tarnished by cheaters, and we have been taught to trust nobody.

We can stop guessing the other 103 names once this list is released, but will anyone believe that every other baseball player is clean? Will anyone believe that this list is the exhaustive one?

And why should they? From Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens to Alex Rodriguez, our imaginations have been stretched to include the unthinkable. We are prone to expect the next headline to include a new allegation of steroid use.

Stop. While we can still save the game, let's move forward.

Clearly, the status quo is not working. Major League Baseball has mandatory drug testing in place, and players are still stupid enough to use PEDs. Shame on them.

Let's get serious about moving past "The Steroid Era." Let's focus on what the current game has to offer: speed, defense, and youth. Oh, and the stories.

This offseason has been spent discussing steroids, Manny Ramirez, and Joe Torre. Remember when a 10,000-loss team won the World Series against a team that finished the year with a record above .500 for the first time in franchise history?

Baseball has given its fans plenty to talk about.

Now, it's time to move on.

1 comment:

coffee said...

at this point i can hardly remember whether using steroids in pro sports is illegal or not