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Friday, May 10, 2013

Curt Schilling: ‘As a player, this is our fault’ that players like David Ortiz face PED questions

Next he’ll be spray painting “Aus der Traum!” on the ESPN studio wall!

“I love David. I love him to death. And I think a lot of what Dan has done in his life has been personally driven. But he didn’t ask a question that people aren’t asking themselves,” Schilling said. “And I keep going to back to, as a player, this is our fault. We did this. We let this happen. We had a chance to stop it and we didn’t. I think the way it was done was kind of cheesy. But there are people asking that very question.”

Added Schilling: “We had a chance among multiple collective bargaining agreements — and as a former player rep, I’m one of those guys — we could have stopped this, and we didn’t. And I think a lot of it was naiveté, I think there was some ignorance. But I think at the end of the day, it was out of sight, out of mind. And it’s coming back to haunt us. … I love David Ortiz to death. He’s one of my closest friends, he’s one of my favorite teammates. But again, I’m not sure Dan wasn’t asking the question that other people weren’t asking themselves.”

Shaughnessy asked Ortiz directly if he used PEDs in an uncomfortable exchange in the Red Sox locker room that left Ortiz angry.

“If you’re going to do that [story], I think that’s the only way you can do it and have an ounce of respect,” Schilling said.

However, the former Sox pitcher noted that Shaughnessy’s history of inserting himself into Red Sox controversies has made players question his motives.

“My dad always told me, listen, when there’s a problem, you look around and you figure out the source. When there’s a problem 10 times over and you look around and the only common thread in that problem is you, you need to figure out what the hell you’re doing wrong,” Schilling said. “Every time we talk about articles like this, it’s always about with Dan writing them. And that’s the thing that bothers me. I’m obviously exaggerating a little bit. But that’s why players are frustrated and tired of it. Because it’s as important for him to be a part of the story as it is to write the story. And players have a problem with that.”

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4439611)
Dear Curt:

If the owners hadn't abrogated the drug agreement negotiated between owners and the MLBPA that dealt with the cocaine scandals, colluded in violation of the CBA and driven the industry to a strike in 1994-95 by trying to illegally impose salary caps, there would have been at the minimum an existing structure (and existing trust) to adapt to deal with the steroid and illegal PED problem.

True ignorance of history by a supposed member of the leadership of the union......
   2. VoodooR Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4439633)
^ Primey.
   3. Ron J2 Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4439646)
#1 Put simply, MLB was found to be bargaining in bad faith in 1994-95. That's not going to be a basis for any kind of deal making.

Nor is the history of the Uberroth era going to be a basis for trust. Not merely collusion on salary, but willful attempts to circumvent the CBA on the drug issue (leading to a long series of arbitration hearing. Almost all lost by MLB. And a history of firing arbitrators who handed down rulings they didn't like)

It's a matter of record that arbitrators found that MLB was intentionally deceptive on collusion. It's a matter of record that the Commissioner was urging the Yankee manager to give false testimony in one of the Steve Howe hearing (to the point of making threats)

Only a moron would have trusted MLB in that time frame. To his credit, Selig spent a great deal of time mending fences with the PA (didn't hurt that the PA had the club of potential triple damaged from the bad faith bargaining hanging over MLB's head. The PA did agree to forgo this and I think the better relationship can be said to date to this)

I think there was one negotiation when a deal of testing might have gotten done and both sides had an interest in an utterly non-contentious CBA negotiation at that point. But MLB and the PA really hadn't built any kind of trust at that point. There was an awful lot of history to get past.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4439651)
Bob, thanks for your point on this (and keep making it).

But, setting aside collectively-bargained solutions and drug testing, do you think there were other things that players could have done that would have helped?

In other words, do you think there is even partial validity to Schilling's 'we let it come to this' sentiment if you ignore his CBA-related reasoning?
   5. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4439672)
If the owners hadn't abrogated the drug agreement negotiated between owners and the MLBPA that dealt with the cocaine scandals, colluded in violation of the CBA and driven the industry to a strike in 1994-95 by trying to illegally impose salary caps, there would have been at the minimum an existing structure (and existing trust) to adapt to deal with the steroid and illegal PED problem.

What a bunch of total bullcrap. In the real life version of history, the players union had to be threatened by the very highest levels of the federal government not once, but twice before they finally caved in and agreed to a real testing program with some teeth behind it.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4439678)
At the very least, Schilling is right in one sense: The fact that the players stonewalled testing was a public relations disaster. And while all the crap that MLB had pulled on them in the past was certainly germane to the players' reaction, you'd think that they might have foreseen the eventual reaction and tried to deal with the problem proactively. The fact that the police may have messed over your innocent brother in the past might well make you rightly suspicious of them, but that doesn't mean that you should be providing cover for the criminal brother who's hiding out in your bedroom.

EDIT: And for the benefit of the terminally literalminded, the use of "criminal" in that last sentence is meant to be purely metaphorical.
   7. bigglou115 Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4439728)
True ignorance of history by a supposed member of the leadership of the union......


While everything you said is accurate, this last sentence makes it look like you just want to be able to say something snarky about Schilling. He's a former player, taking responsibility for his actions. Sure, Schilling has looked like a loon at times, an idiot at others, but he's not wrong that looking back the union would have done better to protect the players from this steroid mess. The owners share that responsibility, but honestly I don't know what more you could ask of Schilling here.
   8. depletion Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4439738)
If you believe that the medical professionals knew what they were doing by classifying PED's as prescription drugs, that could cause health problems when improperly used, then the ballplayers were cutting off their noses to spite their faces. More than 50% were using PED's, otherwise the majority would have voted to have testing.
   9. Ron J2 Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4439760)
#8 The medical people were against scheduling steroids (by and large that is -- you could find some who were in favor). The political folks went against the recommendations of the experts in the field.

And it doesn't have to have been a majority of players for them to have resisted testing. Testing gives a potential weapon to ownership. If you don't trust them (and before the late 90s how could you trust them if you were a player) you'd have to be worried about positive test results for players whose contracts the teams found burdensome.

You don't have to be paranoid when it's a matter of record that the other side bargained in bad faith, lied to arbitrators, sought to impose penalties not permitted by the CBA (hell, sought to do end arounds on the CBA)

Now it's possible that the players might have opted to set up something modeled on tennis -- where the testing is administered by the players association. But it's pretty clear to me that this would have been a worse PR move than failing to come to an agreement with an entity that's provably untrustworthy in a matter requiring trust.

In case it's not clear I place the blame for any lack of testing at roughly 105% ownership, with the rest falling on the players. Nobody sane would have trusted ownership nor should they have.
   10. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4439767)
In other words, do you think there is even partial validity to Schilling's 'we let it come to this' sentiment if you ignore


Yes. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. If a drug is illegal (set aside any issues with Schedule II or III rankings), you shouldn't be using it. period. The best sanction is federal drug law, not a suspension by MLB.


But it also involved the teams. They had the same incentive to win as the players did to produce. And no owner or player would turn in their own regarding probable cause testing.

And from the advent of pro baseball, players were loaded with medications to play - they were high priced machines that management wanted to be producing versus their contract. Even in my minor league days, I was given DMSO by our team trainer (never legitimized and allowed as treatment, it was a paint thinner and solvent) and loaded with indocin and butazolidin to the point where it could injure my liver and kidneys. Oddly, i was born with one kidney and was put in severe risk of dialysis by their orders.

   11. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4439778)
What a bunch of total bullcrap. In the real life version of history, the players union had to be threatened by the very highest levels of the federal government not once, but twice before they finally caved in and agreed to a real testing program with some teeth behind it.


Although you may not appreciate it, MLB and the MLBPA operate under NLRB rules resulting from the Wagner Act and deal with matters like this through collective bargaining. It may be messy and time consuming, but it is the legal remedy for mandatory topics of negotiation.

As for Congress' role, I am sure glad that they thought of the children and spent time on MLB and Schedule II steroids while ignoring the imminent collapse of Fannie Mae, our entire banking system and two interminable wars.

They also inserted themselves into a situation involving an industry where a significant portion of the people affected were minority while letting white kids with unscrupulous parents get scrips from their docs so that they could get adderall.

Was the sanctity of Hank Aarons' HR record more important than a nationwide distribution network of a Schedule II drug proven to up SAT scores by 50-200 points and affect the lives of millions?

And if it was a health issue, how come only THREE people were deemed to die via steroids in 2007 according to the CDC, but alcohol (40,000+) and tobacco (400,000+) are still allowed? I guess the steroid industry needed a lobbyist and payments to Congress!
   12. SteveF Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4439784)
If the owners hadn't abrogated the drug agreement negotiated between owners and the MLBPA that dealt with the cocaine scandals, colluded in violation of the CBA and driven the industry to a strike in 1994-95 by trying to illegally impose salary caps, there would have been at the minimum an existing structure (and existing trust) to adapt to deal with the steroid and illegal PED problem.


Players had significantly more incentive to have a testing regime than owners, insofar as players had more reason to care about their long term health than the owners did. Expecting owners to actually bargain for a testing regime and give something up in exchange seems misguided. (Note, I'm not saying you personally were expecting this. Collectively, there's no question that's how it would have had to have gone down.)

That said, ultimately the PED issue is a player health issue. The only people really that can complain about the lack of a testing regime are the players. It doesn't really affect anyone else.

   13. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4439795)
(p) layers had more reason to care about their long term health than the owners did. Expecting owners to actually bargain for a testing regime and give something up in exchange seems misguided.


In the cocaine scandal agreements, the union and management set up a program pretty similar to what they came up with a few years ago - and there was no quid pro quo from the union asking for additional exogenous benefits for testing.

The problems in dealing with substance abuse are that you have to trust the program and how it is administered (which requires any union worth its salt to examine all the particulars) , you have to know that your medical records are secure (ditto) , you have to trust any employee assistance program and that there still is a pseudo0version of Fourth Amendment rights being applied.


ultimately the PED issue is a player health issue


But there are few actual studies, as it would be medically unethical to do human testing. Steorid aversion is either due ot an "ick" factor or inaccurate stories such as the sad deaths of Ken Caminiti (addict) or Taylor Hooton (which was lexapro related). Sob stories make for good news stories, but when amplified they lead to bad public policy divorced from medical reality.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4439808)
What a bunch of total bullcrap. In the real life version of history, the players union had to be threatened by the very highest levels of the federal government not once, but twice before they finally caved in and agreed to a real testing program with some teeth behind it.


If MLB wanted a testing program, maybe they should have tried offering the players something they wanted in exchange for it?
   15. SteveF Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4439815)
But there are few actual studies...


But it's a collective action problem, right? If theoretically the choice is between a regime in which everyone has an incentive to risk their health (and I agree, it's only a risk and not a certainty) and nobody has an incentive to risk their health, you would choose the latter.

Of course, that's not the actual situation. Players will always have an incentive to cheat given the amount of money at stake (players being no better or worse morally as a consequence than the rest of us). But ideally you want to limit the incentive (and therefore, the incentive to potentially compromise your health) as best you can.

Beyond that, my point really is the players themselves should have implemented a testing regime and policed themselves independently from ownership. Granted, this wouldn't have helped with respect to public opinion. It would, however, have allowed players to feel safe and confident regarding confidentiality and fairness.
   16. Eric Ferguson Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4439816)
If MLB wanted a testing program, maybe they should have tried offering the players something they wanted in exchange for it?


Free steroids?
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4439843)
Granted, this wouldn't have helped with respect to public opinion. It would, however, have allowed players to feel safe and confident regarding confidentiality and fairness.



Public opinion - and sportswriters - true.

But I do not know how confident they could have been regarding privacy of the tests considering how the government and Jeff Novitzky went after the Quest/CDT results and further disrupted the process.

Amazing how the FDA, DEA, IRS and DOJ worked together to get medical records of baseball players and the CIA, DHS and other law enforcement had no collective clue regarding the Boston bombing suspects.
   18. SteveF Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4439844)
But I do not know how confident they could have been regarding privacy of the tests considering how the government and Jeff Novitzky went after the Quest/CDT results and further disrupted the process.


That's a fair point.
   19. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4439893)
Put sports drug testing in terms of your own job.

Would you access an EAP if you knew reporters were scrounging around for documents or investigators were dumpster diving looking for those records? If so, would you be reluctant to participate - at risk to your health, career and family - due to this?

If your firm was debating implementing a drug policy, would you like input to make sure that it was not onerous and intrusive regarding your lifestyle?





   20. zenbitz Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4439937)
That said, ultimately the PED issue is a player health issue. The only people really that can complain about the lack of a testing regime are the players.


Wait. Is this so that players could find out if they were given steroids unknowingly? If it's a personal health issue - then I don't need testing, I know whether or not I am taking "possibly risky substances".


   21. SteveF Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4439946)
Wait. Is this so that players could find out if they were given steroids unknowingly? If it's a personal health issue - then I don't need testing, I know whether or not I am taking "possibly risky substances".


The personal health issue is a consequence of the collective action problem. When other players take steroids to gain a competitive advantage, it adversely affects my compensation if I don't take steroids to 'keep up.' I'm forced to make a choice between my health and my paycheck. Ultimately the problem is you have potentially everyone risking their health and nobody gaining a competitive advantage (since nearly everyone is doing it).

I say it's a player health issue because the players themselves are the ones who should be making the choice. If they want a regime in which they have pressure to use PEDs and potentially suffer long term health consequences in exchange for their privacy, that's entirely their call. I would make a different choice, but that's easy for me to say without having been in that position.

Ultimately I only care about the issue to the degree that my consumer dollars are being spent in a way that puts that uncomfortable choice to players. I would be happier knowing they didn't have to make that kind of choice. But again, that's their call. It's their health and their privacy. It's not my place to assign them relative values and make that decision for them. I have an opinion that I've expressed, but I admit the other side of the issue has some pretty legitimate points.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4439950)

Wait. Is this so that players could find out if they were given steroids unknowingly? If it's a personal health issue - then I don't need testing, I know whether or not I am taking "possibly risky substances".


I think it's a level playing field issue. If you're not taking steroids, but others are, they're gaining a competitive edge over you.

I've always thought that the players stood to benefit from a strong drug policy far more than the owners did. Under the old 'don't ask, don't tell' standard through 2003, the players absorbed the cost of the PEDs and the risks of PED usage (health and legal for sure, but also later to their reputations), with many union members forced to make a choice between two unappealing options. And this usage didn't create any additional jobs (hell, if they worked as advertised, they actually cost a few big league paydays) or directly grow salaries in any way.

The old system was great for the owners, who incurred no costs, no risks and got voluntary increased productivity from their employees. If they could have gotten away with it, they might have wanted to make juicing mandatory.
   23. zenbitz Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4439970)
OK, so it's a level playing field issue not a health issue.

All sports is about sacrificing your body for the game.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4439976)
OK, so it's a level playing field issue not a health issue.


All sports is about sacrificing your body for the game.

I'm not sure it has to be either/or. And just because players take considerable risks to play professional sports doesn't mean we shouldn't take steps to reduce the risks where possible. In fact, sports leagues explore ways to make the games safer all the time.
   25. SteveF Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4439981)
OK, so it's a level playing field issue not a health issue.


No. Every player has access to PEDs. The playing field is already level, from that perspective. Everyone can just take PEDs.

All sports is about sacrificing your body for the game.


That's true to a point, but we don't want that occurring needlessly do we? We try to improve player safety in various sports through rule changes and equipment, right? I see PED testing along those same lines.

Edit: GET OUT OF MY BRAIN SoSH U!
   26. Squash Posted: May 10, 2013 at 09:33 PM (#4440150)
I've been of the camp that the players, if they were indeed waiting for the owners to offer them something they wanted in exchange for a drug policy, were fooling themselves. The owners were never going to offer them anything for the reasons mentioned above, plus they were setting themselves up for one of two PR disasters - either a) the one that happened, or b) if it had gotten to a point where the owners were able to say "We offered them a drug policy but they said they would only agree to it if we raised the minimum salary" or something along those lines. Anti-drug America would have raked them over the coals for that.

Regardless, I don't think they were waiting for some kind of trade from the owners anyway - I think they just didn't want drug testing.

In terms of who to blame for the steroid mess I'd say the answer is some combination of both and neither. Both sides had incentives to keep testing out of the game - the owners because chicks were digging the long ball and the players to protect their individual jobs. So predictably they both let it linger until the matter was to some degree taken out of their hands.
   27. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 10, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4440220)
At the very least, Schilling is right in one sense: The fact that the players stonewalled testing was a public relations disaster. And while all the crap that MLB had pulled on them in the past was certainly germane to the players' reaction, you'd think that they might have foreseen the eventual reaction and tried to deal with the problem proactively.
The problem with this is that it implies that the owners were trying to implement some strict testing regime and the union prevented it. But that's complete revisionist history. Owners never cared about the non-issue any more than the players did, until the morons in Washington stuck their noses where they didn't belong. It was only after that point that the union had any need to fight the owners on the non-issue.

EDIT: To be precise, several people above suggest that the owners should have offered the players something if the former wanted to implement a drug policy on the latter. But there's no evidence that the owners actually wanted this, until after the fact.
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 10, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4440236)
At the very least, Schilling is right in one sense: The fact that the players stonewalled testing was a public relations disaster. And while all the crap that MLB had pulled on them in the past was certainly germane to the players' reaction, you'd think that they might have foreseen the eventual reaction and tried to deal with the problem proactively.

The problem with this is that it implies that the owners were trying to implement some strict testing regime and the union prevented it. But that's complete revisionist history. Owners never cared about the non-issue any more than the players did,


Up to this point, it's hard to dispute what you're saying, other than to call it a "non-issue".

until the morons in Washington stuck their noses where they didn't belong. It was only after that point that the union had any need to fight the owners on the non-issue.

And why would there have been that "need"? Just to show "the morons in Washington" and the owners that they knew how to cut off their noses to spite their own collective face? What on Earth did the union gain in the long run by its intransigence?

EDIT: To be precise, several people above suggest that the owners should have offered the players something if the former wanted to implement a drug policy on the latter. But there's no evidence that the owners actually wanted this, until after the fact.

Again, the point is that the steroid issue should have been recognized by all sides as a disaster waiting to implode on everyone (as it did). Schilling's saying that the players (including himself) blew it in not dealing with it on their side of the fence, and you can say the same thing about the owners. You can choose to call it a "non-issue" for whatever reason you wish, but that's simply your subjective take on the matter.
   29. Bob Tufts Posted: May 10, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4440241)
And we haven't even discussed how Congress deregulated the supplement industry and passed DSHEA - which made the FDA toothless and resulted in 10% of supplements having illegal stimulants and 25% having illegal steroids in them.

They obviously were thinking of the children - and health issues....
   30. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: May 11, 2013 at 12:30 AM (#4440271)
The union clearly has a duty to protect the players from the owners.

What duty does it have to protect the players from each other? Should it do whatever is necessary so that players won't be pressured to use illegal and potentially dangerous drugs?
   31. Walt Davis Posted: May 11, 2013 at 12:58 AM (#4440294)
The problem with this is that it implies that the owners were trying to implement some strict testing regime and the union prevented it. But that's complete revisionist history. Owners never cared about the non-issue any more than the players did, until the morons in Washington stuck their noses where they didn't belong. It was only after that point that the union had any need to fight the owners on the non-issue.

Well, yes and no. The owners loved anything they could use against the players in the PR battle. Selig several times would say things like "we'd love to have a testing program but that darn union ..." Sure, when they got to the bargaining table, the owners weren't going to give up anything significant to get it but I'd be surprised if they didn't half-heartedly ask for it. They probably start each round of negotiations with "hey, wouldn't a salary cap be a great idea" too.

But more relevantly, the Congressional hearings were 2005. MLB implemented minor-league testing in 2001. The "anonymous" testing was 2003. The program started in 2004 with anonymity and no suspension for first offense. This was changed to name disclosure and 10 games for 2005. The Congressional hearings were whining about there not being enough teeth in the existing drug program.

In a non-unionized world, I can't see any reason why the owners wouldn't have imposed ML testing in 2001 when they did for the minors so I think it is fair to say the owners were more pro-active. And both sides had already agreed to testing before the Congressional hearings (although Congress started whining at least as early as 2004).

   32. Srul Itza At Home Posted: May 11, 2013 at 01:36 AM (#4440311)
'd be surprised if they didn't half-heartedly ask for it


Do you have a single shred of evidence that they in fact did, other than Honest John the used car salesman claiming this, after the fact?
   33. bjhanke Posted: May 11, 2013 at 03:12 AM (#4440323)
This thread, so far, has done a reasonable amount to make Bob's comment #1 look completely correct. Trust has been an issue. Any real knowledge of what effects which PEDs have is, basically, unavailable. Players follow competitive fads, started by the most successful players, just like players started following Babe Ruth down the "hellhole" of uppercutting for home runs. The players don't have any idea of how the fad is going to end up, and, individually, they only have careers of, at most, 20 years to test things that need to be tested in groups over longer periods of time.

That last is one of the biggest issues that never get mentioned. How do you try to test the effects of various PEDs on major league baseball players? Ideally, you'd want a serious sample size of matched pairs of players, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-year study. But who, among the players, is going to take the risk of being the guy who gets the placebo only to find out that the PED in question does work, as he absorbs the salary cut and/or forced retirement from the game that came from not taking the PED? Which team is willing to take that risk with its players? None. The real issue with PEDs is that there is not now, nor ever has been, any real way to find out what PEDs do to the small population of major league baseball players. Nobody knows for sure, and there's no way to find out. Which leaves infinite room for people with axes to grind about drugs to yell and argue. - Brock Hanke
   34. depletion Posted: May 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4440389)
And we haven't even discussed how Congress deregulated the supplement industry and passed DSHEA - which made the FDA toothless and resulted in 10% of supplements having illegal stimulants and 25% having illegal steroids in them.

This is a legit issue. The "Supplements" industry is big in Utah. Sen. Orrin Hatch is beholden to them and blocks any intrusion onto their turf. $7.2 Billion Utah supplements industry & Hatch

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