Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, Floyd Landis?

The government has won the right to use the names of the 96 major league baseball players who tested positive for steroids in 2003. Given the level of discretion that has surrounded the case so far - best described as "middle school slumber party" - I expect that roughly 95 of those are going to be leaked to the media any minute now, because, let's face it, that's what happens with these things. One can only hope that the folks entrusted with this information behave as honorably as Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams have done, but then again, if they had in the past, none of us would know who Fainaru-Wada and Williams are.

What this does, of course, is let the government crank up its single-minded assault on Barry Bonds, a pursuit that has yielded absolutely nothing except massive expenditures and the jailing of everyone but Bonds. Seriously, they could nail Al Capone on tax evasion, and he murdered people, not pitches. What does it say that this mess has dragged on for so long, to so little result, and to the detriment of absolutely everyone.

The government suffers because they, frankly, look like idiots for failing to pin down one of the most visible people on the planet. Baseball suffers because every time it looks like the conversation has shifted to something else, the steroids issue does its best Terminator impression and lurches out of the grave. (Memo to the scandalized media - Shawne Merriman is that way. So's Bill Romanowski. And Julius Peppers. And Todd Sauerbrun. And, oh, never mind.) The fight on steroids suffers, because the players aren't going to want to agree to any more "confidential" testing when it gets yanked out in the open like this. And the fans suffer, because the fun of the hot stove season, not to mention the pleasure of being a fan, gets submarined once again.

So who wins? Nobody, as far as I can tell. Not "truth" - all of this stuff is old news. Not justice - you can't tell me there aren't bigger problems that should be getting the tax dollars that this mess is soaking up. Maybe some grandstanding public officials, but that's about it.

Will Carroll over at Baseball Prospectus hints that at least a few of the names on the list are going to be recognizeable ones. We will then be subjected to endless hand-wringing on ESPN, in the print media, and on talk radio, all to no good end. I can see precious little good coming out of this, and a great deal that's bad.
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