Free-Floating Hostility

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Roid to the White House

The New York Daily News, in typically understated fashion, reported today that in the mid-1990s the FBI approached Major League Baseball regarding the use of steroids by its players. According to the story, an Ann Arbor-based agent had been tracking steroids at the request of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and the investigation led him to discover rampant steroid use among ballplayers. The agent, Greg Stejskal, said he contacted MLB's chief of security and put him in touch with steroid dealers. Nothing ever happened.

The implication of the story is that MLB knew that it's home run chase of 1998 was tainted by drug use. On ESPN's mid-afternoon talkfest today, the sportswriters who chase fame on television demanded accountability from commissioner Bud Selig. Many made the point that Selig chose popularity over the principle of having a clean game, and that he should be made to answer for that. And certainly he should since it makes all those protestations of the past two years that he was "Shocked, shocked to learn of the extent of steroid use in MLB" total bullshit. I doubt many will be surprised to learn that Bud Selig is a tool. A tool.

But the list of people who are implicated by circumstantial evidence includes every one who owned a baseball team after 1994, and that list includes the president. President Bush, who was just Governor Bush at the time, owned the Texas Rangers until 1998 when he turned a a nearly $15 million profit by selling the team to Scott Boras' future bitch Tom Hicks. The team's value appreciated thanks to a taxpayer-funded stadium in Arlington. Now, Hicks is stupid with money when it comes to sports
(Sure A-Rod, we can pay you a quarter of a billion dollars, and by we, I mean George Steinbrenner), but one suspects that when he plunked down $250 million to buy the Rangers he had some assurance that whole enterprise wasn't about to fold up and drift away. And since the great power surge of the late 1990s supposedly saved the league after the 1994 strike, it would suggest that George W. Bush profited from baseball's steroid infestation.

I don't believe Jose Canseco when he asserts in his book that Bush had to know about steroids on his team, because I think that teams can hide things like that in the clubhouse. But if an FBI agent uses his name on the record, well, you take a major step forward into the realm of the plausible. Bush used the 2004 State of the Union to take the lead in the fight against 'roids, but this could just be a Saved By the Bell situation. I am speaking, of course, of the episode where Zack Morris and his friends from Bayside were cast to be in an anti-drug spot with famous actors, but off the set those actors were actually smoking a bunch of weed.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at February 16, 2005 2:55 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Speaking of "Saved by the Bell", we ate dinner at our neighbor's flat last night. He showed us this computer game all the Spanish kids are playing. You hear part of a song from a classic TV show and have to guess what show it is. One of the songs was from Saved by the Bell, which I knew immediately. He is going to burn me a copy. I don't think I will do well though because the show titles needed to be answered in Spanish (i.e. Knight Rider = un coche fantastico). Talk about your smooth segue.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at February 17, 2005 12:06 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Everyone is going to heap blame on Selig for ignoring the FBI warning. Such a position is Monday Morning Quaterbacking at its best. Put yourself in Selig's shoes. He gets this tip in '96 or so. What should he do? Should he raise a stink and begin exposing people just two years after the strike? This would be beating a dead horse literally. Fans would be even more turned off. Selig could not exert public pressure because no one cared about the game. Frame the question as this: Would following the FBI tip be good for the game? Instead Selig pulled a Machivelli, ignoring the steroid issue until the game became loved again, where he could raise a sensitive issue on more solid footing and exert public pressure. If the steroid brought that love back sooner, all the better for the game. After the revolution, it would eat its own. Bravo Bud!

    In reality, the game will survive, because no one cares. Steroids is a media issue. That is right, I am calling out the media on Free-Floating Hostility. :-) Sports writers are upset about this because they need to make guilt wrenching hall of fame ballot decisions. Sports fans do not. They just want their team to win. Steroid use makes cross-referencing stats across eras more difficult (the Sports writer's job). However, nothing can be more fun than constructing a syringe covering most of the first baseline when the Yankees come to town (the Sports fan's job). Do steroids make fans of the SF Giants like Barry Bonds less? Do people in Houston or Chicago or New York or Oakland or Boston care any less about the game because of Steroids? Ultimately steroid use is only bad because it encourages bad health decisions, especially for teenagers. However, in terms of competition, for the casual fan, steroids are in the same range of fraud as breast implants.

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