Reusse: Seems as if Selig's work is never done

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2013 - 10:16 AM

The commissioner has another PED scandal on his hands.

The results of the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame vote were announced in early January. None of the players on the ballot received the needed 75 percent for induction.

The rejected included five players who would be Hall of Fame certainties if not for strong links to steroids: Roger Clemens (37.6 percent), Barry Bonds (36.2), Mark McGwire (16.9), Sammy Sosa (12.5) and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8).

This was the first year on the ballot for Clemens and Bonds (as well as Sosa). The criticism of the voters — 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America — included this:

Clemens and Bonds deserved election, in the belief they were already Hall of Famers before you could find evidence of steroids in the time line of their careers.

The other theory is that since we can’t be certain as to who was using and who wasn’t, steroids shouldn’t be a factor in the voting. This crowd believes a simple notation on a plaque in Cooperstown would take care of the performance-enhancer situation.

On Tuesday, the story broke that Major League Baseball has reached a deal with Tony Bosch, in which the alleged PED distributor from the Biogenesis clinic will testify against his clients.

Most prominently, they are Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Bartolo Colon. Melky Cabrera, now with Toronto, was also a Bosch client — and was slapped with a 50-game suspension while with San Francisco last season.

The outrage over this burgeoning scandal was substantial with the sporting public. I received messages on Twitter and e-mails suggesting that 50- or even 100-game suspensions were minor deterrents … that the only suitable punishment for a PED user in baseball was a lifetime ban.

I can’t be sure if these people were also in the group bad-mouthing BBWAA voters for admitting no new Hall of Fame members for 2013; if they were in the camp that suggested Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame on merit, or with a notation of cheating on their plaques.

What I do know is we have to get our outrages in synch here: You can’t be upset that no one received 75 percent on a Hall of Fame ballot where the biggest names were steroids guys, and then get lathered up that another performance-enhancer scandal is unfolding for MLB.

Commissioner Bud Selig deserves much credit for the millions that baseball is spending to unearth the truth about what took place between Bosch’s clinic and prominent players.

Selig led the effort to get major league baseball back in Milwaukee with the Brewers in 1970. Selig headed the Brewers ownership group. His family engaged in the bloody battle for Miller Park that guaranteed the future of the franchise in Milwaukee.

When Braun skated on his previous PED rap, there were media members and cynical fans suggesting, “Selig didn’t want to punish the Brewers and their reigning [2011] MVP anyway.’’

We now know that was a slander. Braun was tied to Biogenesis from the earliest days of the story, and Selig sent in a wave of investigators to get to the truth — to get the Brewers star, to get A-Rod, to get whatever player might have been shopping for PEDs with Bosch.

All alleged, of course, but this is certainly evidence that Selig wants his legacy as commissioner to include making the use of performance enhancers more difficult and more risky in MLB than in any sports league.

As for the lifetime ban theory, while baseball is handing out 50-game suspensions (31 percent of the schedule) to Cabrera and threatening 100-gamers, the NFL’s 17 suspensions for PEDs dating to September 2012 have been four games (25 percent) or fewer.

New England’s Bill Belichick was applauded by the NFL media last season for acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib, who still was serving a PED suspension. The Giants, in contrast, did not allow Cabrera to return, even though Melky could have been back during the postseason.

Baseball has a much-tougher task in controlling PED use, since over 30 percent of its workforce comes from the Dominican, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. It’s not as easy to monitor what’s happening there, but Selig’s office is making a strenuous effort on all fronts, and for that the commissioner deserves praise.

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