Alex Rodriguez was much in the news this week, after he admitted to steroid use in the wake of a Sports Illustrated story naming him as one of the 100+ players who tested positive in the "survey year" of 2003. He admitted using them in Texas during the 2001-2003 time period.
Reaction has been guardedly positive, with most praising him for not doing the Roger Clemens all-out denial response. What gripes me is the (non)role of the players union in all this. I always was vaguely uneasy about the union's role in MLB, and now I'm beginning to understand why. The union has always operated with the mindeset that it is a labor union; hence, every time it does something which appears controversial, they immediatley hide behind the idea that this is what they are allowed to do.
However, it is apparent that this is a union unlike all others. Baseball is an American institution, and as such all who are fortunate enough to participate in it owe a duty to preserve it and pass it along to future generations, just as our forefathes have done for us. The union head does not seem to be able to rise above the "me first" atittude of "get all you can, and consequences be damned".
An outrageous example of this is the current contract situation of Manny Ramirez. Just think of it, Manny is turning down a chance to play baseball next year for $25 million!! Most of us would gladly play for free, but Manny seems to have no respect for this great gift God has given him, and continues to hold out for a longer-term contract. One hopes the baseball owners will continue to hold fast and not take a chance on someone who has proven so unreliable in the past. Manny's position illustrates well the "me first" and "public be damned" attitude of those who use union atitudes to determine their position, instead of common sense and a respect for the game. Shame on you, Manny, and shame on you, Scott Boras, for putting him up to this.
What would a proper approach by the union have been to the steroids issue? Well, if the union were really looking out for the interests of its members, it would have readily agreed to testing, instead of hiding behind some phony notion of "invasion of privacy". Foremost in the union's mind would have been the example of people like former Wichita heavyweight boxer Bob Hazelton, who lost his legs because of sterioid use. Does the union not understand that the long-term health of its members is important? If it does, why not factor that consideration in instead of taking the short-sighted stand of asserting "rights", and consequences be damned.
This country is obsessed with "rights", and there seems to be a lack of recognition of how important things like "responsibilites" and character are. Perhaps if the union head were not a lawyer, he would be more inclined to consider factors besides short-term economic ones. Don Fehr, shame on you!