By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
I never thought I would see the day where I would quoting Ronald Reagan in any column that I write. But as I listen to the latest round of misplaced outrage at yet another outed steroids user—former Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa, all I can say is, “There they go again.”
When I listen to the cartoon character media pundits voice their self-righteous indignation about Sosa, Manny Ramirez, or Alex Rodriguez over their use of steroids at a time when Major League Baseball was the only sports institution to not have a policy or testing procedures against performance enhancing drugs, I am simply amazed at the hypocrisy of everyone throwing stones.
While fans and the media are shaking their fists and fingers at the players with a collective “shame-on-you,” the other perpetrators of the steroids era-the owners and principally Commissioner Bud Selig, who lost institutional control over the sport, will be allowed to walk away from the this sorry era in baseball history unscathed and blameless even though they made billions of dollars from it. Thanks primarily to those who cover baseball in the mainstream media who are now serving as Selig’s propaganda police every time we find out that a player once used steroids or HGH.
Selig and friends will ride off into sunset in the way that Arnold Rothstein’s character did in the movie, “Eight Men Out,” when he said, “So long, suckers,” as the Chicago White Sox players from the Black Sox scandal of 1919 were being banned from baseball.
Even though it has been proven time and again that the owners and the commissioner looked the other way as their players were jacking the ball out of the park in record numbers, those who chronicle baseball can only express their outrage at the players—the millionaires—while Selig and the billionaires are allowed to escape without any blame.
I think without any hesitation that Selig should have been fired as a commissioner of baseball. In collegiate sports whenever there’s a scandal, the higher ups in the athletic department—the coach and athletic directors and administrators are called to the carpet and held accountable for their actions.
Not in baseball, though. Even though the facts prove without a doubt that the players weren’t the only ones to blame for the “Steroids Era”, baseball’s pundits are focused on the players rather than looking at the owners and commissioner who enabled it.
The Mitchell Report concluded that “obviously the players who illegally used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades-Commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players-shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread.”
In 1990, then-MLB commissioner Fay Vincent warned the owners about steroids use in the sport in a memo and was subsequently fired by the owners with Selig being included in that mix of ownership. Then there were the comments of former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who also admitted the complicity of those who run the sport.
“We went through a real difficult time in 1994 with the strike,” Towers told ESPN the Magazine. “Then some amazing things happened. Homeruns were up. Fans were flocking to the ballparks, lining up to watch batting practice. But we all realized that there were things going on within the game that were affecting the integrity of the game. I think we all knew it, but we didn’t say anything about it.
“The truth is, we’re in the competition business and these guys were putting up big numbers and helping your ball club win games. You tended to turn your head on things.”
The mainstream media also played their part in the whole steroids era. Most notably, we ignored such things as androstenedione sitting in Mark Maguire’s locker during the chase to break Roger Maris single-season homerun record in 1998. When an Associated Press reporter pointed it out, he was roundly criticized by his colleagues.
Even more insane was the media’s reaction to Jose Canseco’s tell-all books about players using steroids. Oddly enough, he was dismissed as a jerk for ratting out his boys by the mainstream media so he could make a few bucks. It’s funny how most everyone that Canseco said was using steroids got eventually outed. But in the eyes of the mainstream media, Canseco is an idiot for doing something the media should have been doing in the first place.
In that 1998 homerun race between Maguire and Sosa to pass Roger Maris and during Barry Bonds quest to pass Hank Aaron, how much money did media outlets like Fox and ESPN make covering their exploits? Billions.
And so now that the big media outlets and MLB owners have made their money of their drugged up millionaires, they throw will throw them under the bus in the same way a pimp discards a prostitute when she outlives her usefulness.
MLB’s newest group of hookers and hos—the baseball writers—will once again do the dirty work by vilifying the players, weakening the MLBPA and letting Selig and the owners off the hook.
And by the way those Hall-of-Fame voters who don’t put Bonds or Sosa in the Hall of Fame are not protecting the integrity of the game, they’re covering their own backsides while doing the bidding of the billionaire owners who put out a drugged up product.