Yesterday Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for 65 games, essentially the rest of the baseball season, without pay as he finally had no choice but to come clean about his use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
All of that is well and good.
But here is the thing.
This whole saga lies at the feet of Mr. Selig himself and is a direct result of his seizure of Major League Baseball in the mid 1990s.
This all stems from the dispute with the owners and the players union and the strike that killed the 1994 season and made the 1995 season start late.
FTR, I had not and have no sympathy for either side, but slightly with the owners. While there are 30 major league teams, if what would happen of teams contracting and that number being reduced, a lot of players would be out of a job. So that does give an edge to the owners.
The owners wanted a tight salary cap. Of course, the players did not.
Which leads to Mr. Selig and the duplicity he and his fellow owners had at the time to rid MLB of an independent commissioner that would act in the best interests of the game and not owners and or the players.
The last semi-independent commissioner was Fay Vincent. He was forced to resign his position by the owners in September, 1992. And the owners decided that Mr. Selig, then owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, should be "acting" commissioner.
Can you say conflict of interest?
Sure, Mr Selig let his daughter, Wendy Selig, run the day-to-day affairs of the team, but clearly the owners message was no more independent commissioner. We are just going to put in our chief lackey.
And with that, Mr. Selig and some fellow owners took hard-line positions on the salary cap. And the players recoiled.
Oh, and note that the end result was that nothing changed and the players and owners played under the expired collective bargaining agreement.
But what changed was the image of MLB.
It was in tatters.
Mr. Selig showed that he was boss. He moved his Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League. He diminished the differences between the American and National Leagues. Instead of baseballs made for use in each league and signed by their presidents, a M|LB ball was put in use. Umpires that once worked for each league were no more as they became MLB umpires. And the true abomination was the introduction of "inter league" baseball. No more that the two league champs would just meet in the World Series. No, no, no. An example is that the American League Anaheim Angels* and National League Los Angeles Dodgers would play each other. During the regular season.
Sure, eventually they got around to a collective bargaining agreement and there has been relative peace.
But the fans, they were not happy.
And some players, well they had their own personal solution to their problems.
Taking steroids to build up unnatural bulk and if one is a good hitter, an even better hitter.
And the owners and Mr. Selig were tacitly approving that because the increased hitting meant fans would come back to the ballparks.
Thus Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire became a symbol of what is wrong with MLB today.
All three and others were implicated in using PEDs as they are now called. And none will ever end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sure, the homers that they hit during the late 1990s got the fans back in the seats. Watching baseball again. But even a casual fan had to realize, hmm, how did these and some average hitters seem to belt them out of the park in record numbers?
Only when there was public outcry did the commissioner, and by sheer coinkidink the former acting commissioner, Mr. Selig, make up some new guidelines and vow that it would never happen again.
Now, I want to be blunt.
None of this went away. Some were just sloppy about it. But players and especially hitters were still juicing up.
But Mr. Braun, he is a big name. He is being suspended for the season without pay. Nothing about whether Mr. Braun will come back next season. Sure, he will have to submit to more stringent testing and all, but hey, he ducked it once, right? Who is to say he would not again.
See, if Mr. Selig was serious about this issue, he would have the hardest of policies on the use of PEDs.
First time caught, suspended a year, no pay. Must go to a drug rehab. Second time, well that is one time too many. A player can be thrown out of baseball, all salary gone. The players union will cry, but Mr. Selig can suggest strongly that it is for the good of the game.
But that will not happen.
Because of the players union, there will be no real consequences for serious violation of MLB policies regarding PEDs. Just the lip service and some action as taken against Mr. Braun. But will he be banned for life if there is a next time? HA! Because as much as the players union is at fault, so are the owners. They looked the other way once and can and will do it again.
Had the owners let Mr. Vincent do his job as commissioner in the early 1990s and been an honest broker between the players and owners, they would not have used Mr. Selig as the Trojan Horse to essentially seize power and make the commissioner's office but an appendage of their cartel.
And a real problem is that people like myself love the game too much to do what needs to be done. Which if a pox on all of the above. Meaning not going to games. Not getting any of the MLB Extra Innings packages offered by cable and satellite companies. Not watching games on television. In other words, we the fans have to strike.
But we won't. And we will bewail the wickedness of all involved.
The latest chapter in this involving PEDs and Ryan Braun, this is all Bud Selig's fault.
*On this blog the Angels will NEVER be referred to as the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They left Los Angeles in 1966, became the California Angels and then the Anaheim Angels. They can't have the name "Los Angeles" IMHO.