Friday, July 31, 2009

Time for Players Union to Decide to Out the Rest of the List, They Owe it to Non-Cheaters

I had hope this morning to write about my friend Paul Goydos. Yesterday marked the 16th anniversary of the day we met during the first round of The Buick Open. Paul was a tour rookie—and so was I—I’d just started researching, “A Good Walk Spoiled.” He shot 66 on Thursday afternoon and was brought to the interview room because his was the only low score among the late starters. Bored, killing time before I met someone for dinner, I wandered into the interview room.

The first thing I had head Paul say was, “I’m sure most of you have never heard of me. There’s a reason for that: I’ve never done anything.”

The next 15 minutes were filled with dry, self-deprecating one liners. “I play best when I get my slice going. I know on the PGA Tour you’re supposed to call it a fade but if you hit a seven iron and it goes 20 yards to the right, it’s a slice.”

Since I was looking for players at all levels who had stories to tell, I introduced myself to Paul when he was finished and explained that I was writing a book about life on the tour. “I’ll give you all the time you want,” he said. “But you’re wasting your time doing a book on golf. No one’s going to buy it.”

We still joke about how fortunate I was that he wasn’t my agent.

There’s more—he’s been a fascinating character to know and follow since then—but I have to save it for another day. Like everyone else in sports I’m trapped today (again) by the subject of baseball and steroids.

To say, ‘here we go again,’ doesn’t begin to describe how completely out of control this whole mess is—and has been for a good long while now. The latest revelation is one of the good guys, David Ortiz. The New York Times also nailed Manny Ramirez yesterday for testing positive during the so-called ‘secret,’ testing of 2003 but that’s now old news since Ramirez has already been suspended this year.

As I’ve said before, everyone’s guilty in this and yesterday was evidence of that once again. There was union chief Don Fehr once again wanting to shoot the messenger, expressing anger at the fact that Ramirez and Ortiz’s names were leaked. I’ve always respected Fehr but on the issue of drugs he has done massive damage to baseball by taking the approach that this is a privacy issue. It’s NOT. There are some jobs in the world—airline pilot, law enforcement official to name two—where drug-testing in today’s world must be mandatory. Is it constitutional when we’re all practically strip searched trying to get on an airplane? Hell no. But it is absolutely necessary.

The same’s true in professional sports. Drug use is epidemic in every sport you can possibly think of and, unless you just want to throw your hands up and say, ‘go ahead and cheat AND jeopardize your health,’ you HAVE to drug test. In fact, pro athletes need to be blood-tested because I guarantee you HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is now the drug of choice because it can’t be detected by urinalysis.

While Fehr was spluttering the TV talking heads gathered to cluck and shake their heads and wish this wouldn’t happen. But they STILL won’t take on the players. There was my pal Tim Kirkijian on ESPN saying, “I don’t think one positive test necessarily proves you’ve been doing it your whole career.”

Come on Timmy, one thing we know is that one positive test means for damn sure that the player—whomever it was—didn’t try the drugs ONCE. NONE of these guys and I mean none of them should be allowed to set foot in The Hall of Fame. Ramirez sits there and arrogantly says that he and Ortiz are, “mountains,” and that, “we’ll just keep hitting.” You do that Manny, but I swear you shouldn’t be allowed into Cooperstown even if you buy a ticket. You and the rest of the cheaters.

The fans are guilty too. Everyone is against steroid use EXCEPT if it’s one of their guys who is producing for them. Barry Bonds was cheered in San Francisco until the day he finally went away. (He’s never retired as far as I know). Thursday in Boston Ortiz got a curtain-call standing ovation after a three run homer. Then he put out a strange statement saying he was “surprised,” to learn he’d tested positive. Who is this guy Inspector Renaud in Casablanca? He’s SHOCKED to learn he’s been taking steroids?

Baseball needs to release the remaining names among the 103 who tested positive in ’03. For one thing, it isn’t fair to Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, David Segui (a really bad guy by the way) Ortiz and Ramirez that their names have been leaked and not the others. Other names will continue to dribble out and we’ll have endless speculation on who did and did not test positive until the names are released.

This is one time when Bud Selig needs to get in a room with Fehr, much the same way he did in 2005 after the embarrassment of the McGwire-Sosa-Palemeiro-Schilling-Canseco Congressional hearing and say, ‘Don, we’re drowning here. Enough with the self-righteous right-to-privacy crap,’ He needs to shout this to the highest roof tops and he needs to do one other thing: pressure the players to tell the union to release the names.

Right now the players who are clean—who are still a majority—should be losing their minds that this is still going on. They should be screaming at Fehr and the rest of the union, ‘OUT THEM ALL. ENOUGH. WE'RE DONE WITH THIS!”

That was a big part of the problem when all this began. The non-users, the good guys, let the bad guys go free because they let Fehr and Gene Orza make this into a privacy issue rather than an issue of CHEATING. How can any of them now in good conscience sit back and say, ‘yeah we’re upset this got leaked,’ rather than saying, ‘this needs to end NOW. Out ‘em all and let’s try to move on from there.’

I still remember the day the Mitchell Report came out. I was finishing writing, “Living on the Black.” I had talked to both Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina about steroid use during the season and they had each estimated that at least 25 percent and maybe a lot more of the guys they’d played with had used performance-enhancing drugs at some point. Of course they couldn’t go on the record and name names.

Now, names had been named and I called them both. Neither expressed surprise about any name that was on the list. In fact, Glavine said this: “I’m more surprised by some of the names NOT on the list than by the names ON the list.”

That says it all doesn’t it? For all the names that has been revealed, we’ve probably only hit the tip of the iceberg. And, as long as people stonewall or cluck about how this doesn’t prove all that much or cheer cheaters because they’re producing, it’s just going to go on and on and on.

And I’ve got so many funny Paul Goydos stories to tell.


BillyT said...

I'm not necessarily sure I know how the Union got this passed, or how much percentage of the vote it would take it to reverse the clause to keep it quiet, but could they get a majority to reverse their case on this? One would hope so....

marcH said...

You're right on point. I really feel the fans are as much to blame as anyone else in all of this. Of which I include myself as well. Barry Bonds didn't break the home run record in an empty stadium did he.

Douglas Page said...

Please tell as many Goydos stories as you can. I remember when he was a rookie and profiled on CBS. His was a humour rarely seen to a fan of the PGA tour. A breath of fresh air. A Good Walk Spoiled was further proof of that. Please start telling them quickly.

deepvalue said...

My fan strategy for dealing with cheating in sports is this - go down a few levels. If you like the NBA, watch mid major college hoops. If you like MLB, watch college summer leagues. If you like Olympic sports, watch your local HS teams. Better yet, coach a youth team or get out the door and start playing sports yourself.

MLB is a fraud and the unfair way that drug results have been released is a disgrace. Steroids users are all bad, but their punishments have been horribly disproportionate and unfair. Clemens is materially damaged and Manny goes whistling down to the on-deck circle? It's unwatchable.