MLB Suspensions: Bud Selig's Handling Of Discipline Lauded As Legacy-Changing
Yesterday was "NOT a bad day for baseball" after MLB handed down 13 suspensions tied to the Biogenesis investigation, and it was in fact "a good day, an important day, a day that may just rewrite the history of drugs in sports -- and not merely this sport," according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Dodgers 2B Skip Schumaker said it was a "step in the right direction" and called it a day that would make players realize they "can still get caught without having a positive test." D'Backs P Brad Ziegler said it was a day which "will hopefully deter a lot of players down the road" (ESPN.com 8/5). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes no sport "ever made a bigger and more important statement" than MLB did with its 211-game suspension of Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said, "This is really an important moment for the fight for clean sports. Commissioner [Bud] Selig and his team should be commended" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/6). In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins writes MLB "should rejoice." Cheaters were "exposed for their transgressions and a commissioner who once buried his head in the sand over performance-enhancing drugs delivered punishment that had real bite to it." MLB "didn’t rid itself of cheaters or banned substances -- that won’t ever happen -- but it showed it won’t turn a blind eye to them, either" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/6). Rodriguez is playing while he appeals the suspension, and in Newark, Steve Politi writes having Rodriguez on "display is the commissioner’s worst nightmare." But Selig "was right not to ban him from the game." He needs the "process to play out completely to show players that the system is fair and that it works" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/6).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In L.A., Jill Painter writes the suspensions are a "sign this sport is cleaning up its act. Painstakingly but finally." Painter: "You know steroids are part of the game. What's new is the message that the seedy, dirty world of steroids is an open book." But MLB will "no longer look the other way" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/6). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes Selig was "late to the anti-steroid party, but he has to get some credit for his willingness to take responsibility for the problem, even though it didn't start -- and will not stop -- on a baseball diamond" (Baltimore SUN, 8/6). In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes under the header, "Bud Selig And MLB Can Crow, A Little." Selig and his staff "learned from errors of the past" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/6). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote Selig "deserves an enormous amount of credit for this." Rosenberg: "Is any other commissioner working as hard as Selig to address the issue?" When was the "last time Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman or David Stern tried to severely punish one of the best players in their sports' history?" (SI.com, 8/5). In Ottawa, Mark Sutcliffe writes under the header, "Selig Finally Gets It Right." In "many ways, the long suspension isn’t about Rodriguez, but Selig." Although some of his moves have "offended some baseball purists, Selig has done many things to improve the game." But all of Selig’s accomplishments "have been tainted by the drug problems in the game." In hitting Rodriguez with the "largest of all, Selig found the perfect target." He is one of MLB’s "biggest stars, its highest paid player." So the suspension "means Selig can’t be accused of easing off on anyone" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 8/6). MLB Network's Peter Gammons said the suspensions are "for the integrity of the game" and the "players want it" ("The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd," MSNBC, 8/6).
LEAVING A LEGACY: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote Selig "scoffs publicly at the idea that he is doing this for his legacy." But there is "no reason to deny this." Passan: "Of course he is doing this for his legacy." Selig wants his "triumphs to overwhelm his foibles, and at 79 years old he is taking bold steps" in that direction. Even if Rodriguez "didn't get the lifetime ban ... Selig is playing legacy Stratego: by crushing Rodriguez's, he's pumping up his own." Selig's "ultimate hope is that the public intertwines him more with Rodriguez than it does Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/5). In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes Selig's "motives are far from pure ... but he is saintly compared to Rodriguez" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/6). In S.F., Ann Killion writes, "Bud Selig wanted to tout Monday as a groundbreaking day. Of course he did. A well-timed slap on his own back is Selig's go-to move" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/6).
MORE TO BE DESIRED? CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote MLB decided "yet again to try and show up with a gigantic centerpiece designed only to make its commissioner LOOK tough on banquet tables." Ratto: "And it fails, because this is more proof that baseball only wants to LOOK tough on performance enhancing drugs." And because on this issue MLB "essentially stinks on ice, it fails spectacularly" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/5). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote, "You know when Dudley Do-Nothing started caring about steroids? When Congress started asking questions while holding baseball’s anti-trust exemption in its back pocket." Selig thinks he is "saving his legacy," but what he "doesn’t know is that it is as beyond repair as A-Rod’s story" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/5). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "It's going to be an awful day for baseball no matter if people tend to think about it being cleaned up. The sport is still losing too many valuable MVP-types, All-Star players. That just can't keep up" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/5).
FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD: A CHICAGO TRIBUNE editorial states MLB has "come a long way from its blithe disregard of juicing back in the 1990s." But as long as players "feel the need to gain an edge and believe they have a good chance of eluding detection, some of them will cheat." These suspensions, which "force the guilty players to miss just a couple of months, may not be enough to change behavior" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/6). A South Florida SUN-SENTINEL editorial states if MLB "really wants to send a message, really wants to get serious about ridding the sport of drug cheats, punishment is going to have to be severe enough to deter anybody who is even thinking about taking performance-enhancing drugs." Until that "happens, baseball has to take some of the blame for the latest stain on the sport" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/6). A MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL editorial states players who use PEDs and "are caught even once should be banned from the game for life." Selig should "push for that ultimate penalty in talks with the Players Association later this year." Players who "care about the integrity of the game should do the same" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/6). A USA TODAY editorial states MLB has "lacked both the will and the way to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs for decades." The league now is "finally showing the will," but the Biogenesis scandal's "scale suggests the sport still needs new ways to attack drug-driven cheating that continues to undermine the credibility of the game." The editorial: "Give MLB the authority to void contracts as a penalty for using banned substances." The risk of "suddenly losing so much money would alter the cheating calculus" (USA TODAY, 8/6). A N.Y. TIMES editorial states Rodriguez has "fed the widespread-but-understandable assumption that everybody cheats." That "is not true," but it will take "further steps -- like the giant one that baseball took on Monday -- to repair the sport's reputation" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/6).