Scrutinizing Selig’s actions

As I walked through the Union last Thursday, I glanced up at the television screens to see Bud Selig’s face plastered on them, and I did a double take. Baseball investigating potential steroid use by Barry Bonds and other stars? I couldn’t believe it.

This is Major League Baseball we’re talking about – a league that seems more than ready to give Bonds the title of “Home Run King” and hope its fans aren’t paying attention.

And we’re talking about Bud Selig, who rather than let the rules slip during the 2001 All-Star Game for just one night, decided to end the game in a tie. Last time I checked, there aren’t supposed to be ties in baseball.

However, even with all his past mistakes, Commissioner Selig is finally doing something that at least seems right.

By investigating the alleged use of steroids by stars such as Barry Bonds, Selig is bowing in to outside pressure from fans, the media, and from several books, including the recently-released “Game of Shadows.” This book offers an account of the California company BALCO and its supposed distribution of steroids to players like Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi over the past few years.

The shadow of steroids has already cast darkness over the sport, an event that could have easily been avoided. It also provides us with one truth: It’s too little, too late for Bud Selig and Major League Baseball.

Football has overthrown baseball as the true national pastime, and stock car racing has sped right past into the No. 2 position. Even basketball is catching up to baseball in popularity.

Baseball lost many fans after Selig cancelled the 1994 World Series, but they stand to lose more as the extent of the ignorance toward steroids comes to light.

Selig has done everything he can to put off this scenario. He claims he only first knew of the problem steroids posed in 1998, and apparently, it has taken MLB eight years to get around to looking into it.

In contrast, retiring NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue quickly reacted to the widespread drug and steroid use that plagued professional football during the 1980s. He enacted one of sports’ strictest substance abuse policies, one that not only was praised by Congress, but has also done an excellent job maintaing fairness in the sport.

One of these men is likely to be remembered as the greatest sports commissioner of all the time, while the other is likely to go down as the worst. Can you guess who will be getting each title?

The blame for this goes deeper than just one man, though. The owners, as well as the players who used steroids, also deserve to be blamed for allowing the use of these drugs.

Sure, baseball has had substance abuse problems in the past that went mostly ignored. Some of its greatest players, like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, were alcoholics, while others players took the field with the effects of hangovers.

The difference here is clear, as alcohol doesn’t give you muscle mass and strength. Otherwise, some of my classmates would look like professional bodybuilders and be able to bench press Cadillacs without a problem.

The end result is also clear, at least for Selig. This investigation is a suicide mission of sorts for him, as it will surely end with him no longer commissioner.

Selig’s contract runs out Dec. 31, 2007, and he likely won’t be brought back. That is, if he isn’t run out of the position beforehand.

For accused players, like Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, we will not know how the investigation affects them until it is completed. However, there are only two results for each: total exoneration or eternal damnation among baseball fans.

There is no quick fix for baseball, only the slow and painful process of peeling back the layers and uncovering the extent of steroid use in the sport. We’ll find out the long-overdue truth, though it may hurt to find out that some of our favorite players cheated and deceived us.

“The goal here is to determine facts, not engage in supposition, speculation, rumor or innuendo,” Selig said concerning the investigation.

One fact is already painfully clear: Baseball’s image has been tarnished, and it’s going to take a lot more than an investigation to restore it.

Send your comments to Brian at [email protected].