Bud Selig, who was immortalized with a statue at Miller Park last month, spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick for the mag’s current issue. Selig is his usual affable and somewhat evasive self. Patrick is in his usual witty and not-too-probing form. Since I am in my usual cynical and sarcastic mood, I thought I would delve deeper and offer a few biting comments to some of Selig’s more curious responses.
Patrick asks Selig if he expects to testify in the Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds trials. Selig responds that he does not, and adds, “Look, I’m not a lawyer, but those are cases between those people and the government and really have nothing to do with baseball.” Oh, really? True, baseball is not involved in the due process of trying Clemens and Bonds. That is the government’s responsibility. But nothing to do with baseball? I would not phrase it as such, Commissioner. These trials have a most serious bearing on the game. They extend the dark shadow of steroids across baseball’s landscape for an extended period of time and cast further shame on two of the game’s all-time greats. I know Bonds, like Clemens, has been indicted for just little old perjury, but a very public trial and possible conviction further blemishes the game’s most hallowed record (755*). This has a lot to do with baseball, like it or not.
When asked if the pitching dominance we have seen this year has something to do with the eradication of steroids, Selig does a bit of side-stepping. “Whether it is or not, I don’t know.” He then continues to discuss that he has talked to a number of people, everyone has their theories, yada, yada, yada. Guess what, Bud? I think it has a lot to do with steroids, or the lack thereof. Off the Foul Pole has opined and bloviated about this previously. Frankly, I think it would be a positive if you just came out and said, “Yes, I think is a contributing factor. Perhaps even a strong one.” Reassure the fans that the game is cleaner than it’s been in a long time and that what you are seeing — more of a balance, a more level playing field between pitchers and hitters — is restoring the integrity and purety of the game. (Full disclosure: I make my living in the public relations profession. That’s why maybe you think I sound like a PR man.)
Finally, Selig concludes by noting that the game now has a drug testing program, something it did not have even during the “cocaine era of the 80’s, which was probably more pervasive than steroids. And I don’t hear anybody even talk about that.” Well, cocaine may have been more pervasive than steroids in the 80’s, but I doubt it could compare to the level of steroid use in the 90’s and early 00’s. People don’t talk about the cocaine thing now because it is presumably not pervasive these days and when it was, well that’s 25-30 years ago. Ancient history. And back then, there was a fair amount of talk about it. Remember the Pittsburgh trial? Regardless, steroids have generated a lot more attention for an obvious reason: it was not cocaine that fueled the barrage of homers that reigned on the game over the past 15 years. Cocaine, I can only suspect, would have the opposite effect. Again, I can only suspect.
Do I get a statue for my candor?