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No bows for baseball

Don't give Selig, players credit for 'roids penalties

Posted: Friday November 18, 2005 11:58AM; Updated: Friday November 18, 2005 12:01PM
Bud Selig, Donald Fehr
Despite what Bud Selig and Donald Fehr may say, it was government pressure that led to a new steroids policy.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Baseball has finally adopted a steroids policy with some teeth in it, one that punishes a player 50 games for his first offense and suspends him for life for a third. Overlooked by many is the fact that the plan will also test for amphetamines, which are likely more widely used than the juice.

It's a fine plan, but it still stops short of the stringent standards you see in most international sports, in which a two-year ban for a first offense is the norm. Not to get all preachy, but we're not talking about a victimless crime here. In addition to sending a dangerous message to kids, 'roids also defraud you and me, the people who pay money to go to games. It's like we're being sold a bill of goods -- Herculean men performing mind-boggling feats that the rest of us could never conceive of. Only it turns out the Herculean men, when they're deprived of their special juice boxes, are a lot more like the rest of us than they're letting on.

End of sermon. These are all things you've heard before and, chances are, these are all things you agree with. So here's my question: What took them so long? And can we stop patting Bud Seilg on the back? Ryne Sandberg wrote  a column in which he details a lunch with Selig at which the commish sold him on the plan.

"Selig admitted that the plan in place was working and that the number of steroid users was down, but something more had to be done -- something drastic to show the fans that baseball is committed to the integrity of the game.

That's why I'm thrilled with the tougher steroid policy that is now in place with Major League Baseball and the Players' Association. Selig worked hard to push this plan through and, in the end, his efforts paid off. He got his way and baseball is better for it."

Come on, Ryno. This plan got passed because Congress seized on a hot button topic that every rational person with an opinion agreed on: steroids are bad. I'm glad the penalties have been stiffened, and I'd like to see them get even tougher. But let's go easy on making heroes out of Selig and the players. It took a legislative sword of Damocles to make them do something that common sense alone should have spurred them to do.

The word on the World Cup

The World Cup field is finally set, as the last five spots were sewn up on Wednesday. The SI weekend for employees is Tuesday and Wednesday, which works out really well for the soccer heads among us. Nothing like spending the equivalent of your Sunday at Nevada Smiths (the finest soccer bar in America, moreso now that they've started serving meat pies, which only sound disgusting; they are, in fact, remarkably tasty) with a roomful of Swiss fans who are acting anything but neutral. (Swiss cowbells, I've recently learned, are rounder than the ones we see over here. Interesting.) All in the name of work, of course.