Thursday, March 09, 2006

Best interest of Baseball & an Open Letter to Bud Selig

13 months ago I called on Bud Selig to take some action to protect Hank Aaron's homerun record. At that time the media was in a frenzy due to the release of Jose Canseco's book. Here is what I wrote on this very page:

Selig and Alderson need to take their heads out of the sand. Take a long look at what is happening to the sport. They need to do baseball a favor and protect Hank Aaron's record from Bonds, Sosa or any other "'roid slugger". Selig could use his"best interest of baseball clause" to suspend Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield for their part in the Balco scam. A more media friendly option might be to see if Bonds will "voluntarily" retire. This would eliminate the controversey that will follow the suspension of Bonds. Either way, Selig needs to protect Aaron and his 755 homeruns.

Thanks in large part to Bonds breaking down (draw your own conclusions why) last year, Selig still has the chance to do what is right for this sport. He can protect baseball's sacred HR numbers of 714 and 755. Last I checked, Bud still has "the best interest of baseball" clause. He has never used the clause, Selig has been a commisioner that has worked with owners and the players union to find compromise on many issues. As a baseball fan, I see no room for compromise on this issue.

Just like last February, once again baseball finds themselves amidst another firestorm, surrounding guess who. The allegations made against Barry Bonds this week in SI had me wondering where Commish Bud Selig is (and has been) on the whole Bonds issue. Selig has really stayed below the radar on this. This morning I stumbled upon this Phil Rogers column in the morning Trib. Rogers writes:

Commissioner Bud Selig was worried enough about Barry Bonds' possible steroid use to arrange a meeting with him near the San Francisco Giants' training camp in the spring of 2004.

He was seeking to contain any possible damage to the sport as Bonds continued to move up the rankings of career home run hitters.

According to highly placed Major League Baseball sources, Selig extended a vague offer of leniency to Bonds if he had anything he wished to admit, including possible acts of perjury in his testimony to the BALCO grand jury. He
told Bonds the consequences would be "much worse" if he professed innocence and later was revealed as a steroid user.

Rogers goes on to tell us about Selig's response to the article:

According to a close associate, Selig's initial response after reading the book excerpts in Sports Illustrated was: "Why am I not surprised now?"

The Chronicle's Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams have spent three years covering the story and gained access to a vast array of sources and records. Their reporting for the newspaper raised serious questions about Bonds' denials, but the picture of Bonds' steroid regimen painted in the book left many, including Selig, taken aback.

"It's even worse than I thought," he said, according to a source who had discussed the issue with him. "I'm very concerned."

You should be concerned Bud, you should be damn concerned. But, as I read into this maybe Bud is starting to see the light.

There is a real possibility that Bonds is going to break both records very quickly. Breaking a record like Ruth's or Aaron's should be celebrated by the sport. What will there be to celebrate if Bonds breaks the record? What should be a proud moment for Baseball, similar to Ripken beating Gehrig's streak, will be a black eye for the sport. Unless you can come up with some proof real fast that Barry's clean (wink-wink, nod-nod--oh wait, that's what started this whole mess in the 90's)

----------An Open Letter to Commisioner Selig-----------

Mr. Selig,

I ask you to take a long look at the case made against Barry Bonds in the ongoing Balco investigation and in the new book Game of Shadows.

Put Bonds on a temporary leave from the Giants and conduct an investigation into this. Bring in an outside investigator like Giamatti did with John Dowd. Get to the bottom of this thing.

If he comes up clear, great let's all move on. If the case made in SI and the book Game of Shadows is correct it's time to invoke the best interest of baseball clause and suspend Bonds. Let the Union fight you on this. I think for once you may actually have public opinion on your side.

One can make the case that the steroid era will be your legacy as Commisioner. You have the opportunity to protect the records of Aaron and Ruth from the gaudy power numbers of the steroid era.



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