Baseball has been America’s pastime since its inception back in the early 1800’s. Baseball has survived World Wars and Major Conflicts, gambling and strikes but the current scandal surrounding the game continues to gain more and more steam as everyday passes. The lines from Field of Dreams ring just as true today as they did when James Earl Jones spoke them nearly 20 years ago, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”
Baseball has been under a cloud of controversy for years in regards to its use of performance-enhancing drugs and on Wednesday the game received another shock. According to a report from the Associated Press, “federal investigators can use the names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players in their steroid probe” after a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, New Jersey, one of the largest drug-testing firms in the nation, analyzed more than 1,400 urine samples from players that season. Comprehensive Drug Testing of Long Beach, California coordinated the collection of specimens and compiled the data.”
The samples were taken in 2003 of around 1400 players in order to gauge the amount of use of steroid abuse in baseball to see if the league needed to have a stricter drug-testing policy. More than 5% of those tests came back positive and those results led to the league changing its stance on steroid abuse. The test results from 2003 were never supposed to be made public and were set to be destroyed in 2003 but a subpoena the day before the tests were to be destroyed was issued to Quest Diagnostics and Comprehensive Drug Testing (CDT). In April 2004 Internal Revenue Service agents seized the samples and results.
The agents were raiding the labs for test results on Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and 7 other players and during the raid the investigators seized computer files that contained results of nearly 100 other players not named in the government’s subpoena and warrants. With the data from the labs, the results can be matched to the players tested and those players that tested positive can be called before a grand jury to find out how they obtained their steroids.
Players and owners had agreed that the results would be confidential. The players were assigned a code number that would match with his name.
For many baseball fans and plain observers of the game, this is not news; it is just the proverbial “other shoe.” Many people, including myself, have simply been waiting to see actual proof that these players took steroids. We have assumed many did and just went on with that mindset. However, this probe opens “Pandora’s Box.” If Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa tested positive, most would say, “I thought so.” However, if someone like Albert Pujols, David Ortiz or Roger Clemens tested positive, it would send a shockwave through the game and the entire sports community.
In the past few years, we have given a pass to most players. Fans assume that no one would be dumb enough to take steroids now. They could get caught, tarnish the game, their own name and in turn ruin the game. HGH aside, many just assumed the testing would clean up the game. However, per the agreement prior to the 2003 season, the test results would never be released, but now they may be. I have to assume that some players knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs with the mindset that even if they tested positive, no one would ever know. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend.” After the information disseminated yesterday, it appears these tests are free game and that we, the public, will now learn much more than we ever anticipated.
Baseball does not have a leg to stand on in this situation. If they fight the court’s finding, they look like the parents erroneously protecting their guilty child. Also, it would appear that they only care about the almighty dollar instead of the game’s integrity. It is a no win situation without an end in sight. If these names are nothing new, well, it is just as we all thought, but if it is a reigning MVP, well then…..
To quote a talk show host, “this is about to get messy.”