Thursday, March 30, 2006

Baseball's White Wash

Major League Baseball announced that it will launch an investigation into the use of steroids in the sport. Because MLB did not ban the use of steroids until 2002, the sport is rationalizing that the investigation will only reach back to that point. However, that only means that the investigation will focus on a period of time virtually no one is concerned about. Furthermore, this seems designed to permit baseball to claim to be doing something, when in fact it is only diverting attention from the real scandal.

While it is true that players who abused these drugs prior to 2002 could probably not be punished, that argument misses the point. The real focus of baseball's inquiry should be on its executives: what did they know and when did they know it. Almost everyone believes that MLB owners and leaders knew what was going on and chose to ignore it because larger men hitting longer home runs put more butts in seats. Whether they were aware of the long term physical consequences (someone google the name Lyle Alzado) of steroid abuse is an open question.

Just as Watergate was not merely the story of a few burglars, the MLB steroids scandal is not merely about which players cheated. The real questions relate to who knew about it, and what were they willing to do to keep it out of public view.

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