As the union makes a change, Miller looks forward, and back (cont.)
Asked what should be done about baseball's performance-enhancing drug problem, Miller said, "I want to make it clear I don't know what the truth is and I don't pretend to know. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the media and the Congress have become the greatest drug pushers we have. That is if you tell a relatively immature young person with athletic potential that just swallowing a pill or having an injection you can turn an average athlete into a superstar, a celebrity who makes millions of dollars, you just never could have a greater incentive to have young people grab onto any kind of drug that fits the performance-enhancing definition."
As for what he would do if he were still in charge, Miller said, "I don't know. You can't solve all these problems. I haven't thought about it except in one sense. I'm a great believer in the scientific method of finding out facts. I don't believe you rely on rumors. I would suggest one possible thing to do: With money raised both from the union and management side, hire some scientists with a mandate to put on a scientific test to deal with these things that are allegedly being used, to determine two things. One, the health implications of using, but on a scientific basis, and two, whether or not they improve your performance as an athlete. I think it's worth the time. And effort."
On the subject of Michael Weiner, Fehr's likely successor, Miller said, "I've met him a number of times, but I don't know him well at all. My impression of him is that he's bright, he has handled his assignments well. Been with the union 21 years, that's quite a background for the job. As Don said yesterday when he was talking to the staff, a new director will have some changes in mind, Don didn't know what they were, but he was confident [Weiner] has the ability and intelligence to do things well. I agree with that."
As for making an effort to speak with the new union leadership, Miller said, "It depends. If he asks for some advice on a particular problem, of course. But it's really not my style to intervene."
For all his willingness to engage the owners on controversial issues -- a combativeness that led to victory after victory over management that some feel is what is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame -- Miller could be very friendly with the men with whom he was dueling. Walter O'Malley of the Dodgers, who moved Miller's boyhood team out of Brooklyn, was one such example, and another is George Steinbrenner, who used to invite Miller to Yankee Stadium for World Series games.
These days, Miller mostly watches his baseball on television, but he did get an invitation on Monday, when he was asked to go to MLBPA headquarters in midtown Manhattan for Fehr's farewell announcement to his staff. Miller joked that anyone who didn't recognize him in person might recognize him as the man whose portrait still hangs on the walls of the union's office. Even there, Miller is not known by all, but he laughs when asked about the impact he had on the game and the high regard in which he is held, almost universally, more than a quarter century after he stepped down as union leader. "I'd be lying if I didn't say that's very gratifying," he said. "I'm happy about that."
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