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Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand
Friday, November 18, 2005
Analysis by your’s truly. See comments below in short interviews with Fay Vincent, Buzzie Bavasi, Andrew Zimbalist, and Marvin Miller
Depending on your point of view, earlier this week:
• Clean living triumphed over drug abuse.
For the second time in the past year, history repeated as management and the Players’ Union broke the normally sacred seal of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and altered the Joint Drug Agreement. This time, however, the changes to the contract are significant in terms of punishment, reach, and scope. If ratified, the testing policy and penalties for performance enhancing drugs, as well as amphetamines, moves Major League Baseball’s policy into a sphere more closely aligned with Olympic testing, and will be the benchmark that other professional sports will be gauged by.
While Commissioner Bud Selig has been vocal about placing such a policy in place as performance enhancing drugs pose a “fundamental challenge to the integrity of the game,” the real hammer in the decision was the threat of several pieces of legislation by Congress, most notably the Professional Sports Integrity and Accountability Act, which seek to enforce more stringent penalties for steroid use across all professional sports.
Noted sports economist Andrew Zimbalist remarked that, “[The agreement] is an important step forward, but one has to remain concerned that several substances, such as
Former commissioner Fay Vincent responded by saying, “I think Congress played a major role in the decision, and I think it’s a fine program. Opening up the contract is very controversial thing. From baseball’s point of view, opening up the contract is a dangerous precedent. baseball’s, historically taken care of their own house, and we don’t need Congress dictating matters.”
Buzzie Bavasi, who was general manager of the Dodgers, president of the Padres, and executive vice president of the Angels said, “I, like many other former GMs, am highly impressed with the job Bud Selig and Don Fehr have done regarding the drug problem. During my Dodger days both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles my players were lucky if they could afford a beer, no less steroids. The problem came about when player salaries reached a level where one and all could afford a drug or two. I am sure that Mr. Fehr and Mr. Orza will attest to this.”
Not surprisingly, the most outspoken statements came from former Executive Director of the Players’ Association, Marvin Miller. “[Reopening the contract] is foolishness in the extreme,” he said. “None of this of this had to happen. A contract ought to be a sacrosanct agreement that cannot be abrogated. And, the very act of one party asking another to abrogate what was derived in good faith, is something to be condemned in very certain terms. It is unprincipled on the part of Selig and the people he represents.” When asked if he felt the threats by members of Congress to pass law imposing testing penalties had teeth, Miller’s reply was, “In my opinion [Congress’ threat] had no teeth.” Asked if he felt the Players’ Association been weakened by this decision, Miller replied, “No question about it.”
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