Whoever writes the headlines for ESPN’s news stories decided to have a little fun yesterday and gave the story about the congressional steroid hearing the somewhat creative title of “Selig, Fehr on Receiving End of Congress’ Shots.” Lame steroid-injecting needle pun aside, the article only further stoked the fire for what continues to be one of the most pointless stories in recent sports memory – which is saying a lot, considering ESPN viewers were recently subjected to a weeklong discussion of Tony Romo’s vacation in Cabo.
There’s no doubt that steroids were and continue to be a big problem for Major League Baseball, and there’s also no doubt that much more needs to be done to fix the problem. But I’m not seeing how chit-chatting with Commissioner Bud Selig and union leader Donald Fehr can be considered making any progress. The hearing essentially turned into a chance for the two most powerful men in baseball to publicly pat themselves on the back for the changes they’ve made to baseball’s steroid policy, changes that still don’t go far enough. Selig and Fehr repeatedly championed the progress they have made, despite the fact the sport still faces a giant credibility problem because of the ongoing debates over Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and the lack of a valid test for Human Growth Hormone.
As a fan, am I really supposed to be expected to believe that Major League Baseball is nearly clean, just because a bunch of random guys get busted every few months? Without a reliable test for HGH, Selig and Fehr cannot and should not continue to cite their progress when asked about steroids. Rather, they should focus their efforts on expanding on the current steroid policy. And instead of asking questions that we all know the answers to, Congress should be focusing its efforts on passing laws that make steroid use of any kind illegal. The threat of a 50-game suspension isn’t going to scare off all prospective steroid users, but the threat of serious jail time probably would. However, instead of focusing on the legal aspect of this case, select members of Congress continue to puff their chests out and show us all that they’re “trying to make a difference,” when, in fact, they’re accomplishing much less than they should be. While watching this dog and pony show, I just can’t shake the sinking feeling that four years from now I’ll be watching a presidential candidate brag about how they were present for the steroid hearings, as they stump for more votes.
The hearings, the frivolous attempts to imprison Barry Bonds and now Miguel Tejada, are a waste of taxpayer money and government resources. Admit it, even the most passionate of Bonds haters cannot make a logical case for federal prosecutors wasting four years and a countless amount of money on a baseball player when they could be spending their resources on the task of going after some of society’s real criminals.
With Clemens and his trainer Brian McNamee scheduled for what should be an explosive hearing next month in front of Congress, the hope is that all of these groups will finally come together and make some legislative changes, rather than just holding hearings for the sake of looking like they’re doing something.
If you don’t believe me on the ridiculousness of the hearings, just consider this well thought out exchange that took place during the so-called “grilling” of Selig and Fehr …
“Do you accept responsibility for this scandal, or do you think there was nothing you could do to prevent it?” Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings asked.
“Did we or did I appreciate the depth of the problem? … The answer is no,” Fehr answered after pausing for a few seconds.
“Do I wish we could have reacted quicker? Should we have? One could make the case,” Selig followed.
Does this columnist wish these guys would quit the doubletalk and take full responsibility for the past, while making sweeping changes for the future? The answer is yes. Do I think they will, or do I think that Congress will actually force them to? Sadly, the answer remains no.