Baseball started a drug testing program six years ago that never tested for HGH (see previous blog here). The program is called the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, more commonly known as the “Joint Drug Agreement”. It is unconfirmed if, when deciding on this nickname, the two sides also considered a more fitting abbreviation, something like “Joint, Bong, and Needle” Agreement.
It has been shocking to see such chaos ensue of late. Instead of an air-tight system representing a multi-billion dollar business, it is a system that has let comic book personalities dominate, showing the world how unstructured the drug policy really is.
In one corner we see Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod), who has been accused of being on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDS) since high school. For some reason A-Rod is willing to visually illustrate that he takes narcissism to a maximum level by making out with himself in the mirror for Details Magazine! (see photo). That’s not something you see every day.
In the other corner, we have a tightly wound commissioner who is very proud of his legacy of cleaning up baseball. Picture that comic Hollywood caricature of the uptight principal who is inevitably on a collision course to be made to look foolish.
Commissioner Bud Selig’s hype of the coming of HGH testing seems to have worked on at least one person: himself. He got so excited that he started suspending players for HGH before testing began. All the recent suspensions of Ryan Braun, A-Rod, etc. were done for what the Joint Drug Agreement calls “just cause”. These were not players who failed drug tests. The only evidence against them was their association with a clinic that– according to eye witness testimony, medical records, text messages, etc..– dispensed HGH. This takes the drug program from a testing system into a police state.
Selig then lost track of his own policy! In the system that has been going on for six years, punishments were neatly laid out in a 50 game suspension for first time offenders and then 100 games for the second offense. But here, the seemingly mild-mannered and well organized Selig appears to have snapped. He huffed and he puffed and he pulled out the number 211 games from somewhere deep within him. Do you think this is because he was angry that A-Rod was making his policy look inept?
At this point, the Joint Drug Program is creating more chaos than order, and the chaos is building. Selig is acting like that out of touch teacher trading insults with a student who is challenging him. In fact, Selig showed the poise of being the one to first pick up a piece of food and start a food fight. Last week, MLB leaked information that A-Rod purposefully leaked incriminating evidence against his fellow players in order to deflect attention from himself. A-Rod responded by hiring a lawyer to sue the Yankees. His claim: the Yankees told the surgeon who was to operate on him that the team “would be fine” if A-Rod never played again! It’s really hard to picture Joe Dimaggio and the Yankees having this type of public dialogue.
Because A-Rod’s suspension was a “just cause suspension” he is allowed to appeal and play, and this act is the ultimate visual of just how dirty baseball is right now. If HGH testing still has not started, A-Rod could be getting to play right now while using HGH! Seeing A-Rod trot out to third base is like watching a guy busted for a DUI, who, instead of losing his license, is allowed to drive drunk to his court date. This is a far cry from the all important legacy that Selig is trying to create for himself.
But it’s not Selig’s fault that there’s no HGH testing. The impediment is the players’ union. Everyone should wonder why the players’ union is against comprehensive testing. The main problem baseball faces is how righteous they have been the past six years with an ineffectual drug program. Instead of bragging about legacy, baseball could just be as quiet about everything as football and basketball are, and brag only when comprehensive testing begins.
The whole thing is a mess, but you know what is more messy? The NFL and NBA still have never tested for HGH! They both claim they will start next year. Just yesterday, because the NFL players union and the NFL are having trouble coming to a final agreement, Congress has reportedly decided to get involved.
These days, Congress does not exactly have the Midas touch. In fact, their work with the President led to a government shut down. But here, perhaps Congress can help shut down the egos involved. At the very least, Congress and the NFL will bring focus to the fact that baseball should not be the only sport under the microscope. Selig can then at least rejoice that baseball is not alone.