Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Baseball at the Crossroads by Ed Stern

Marty: It will shortly be announced, if it hasn’t already, that George Mitchell has been chosen by Bud Selig to conduct an investigation into the past use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport. Mitchell is the widely respected former Majority leader from Maine. Since leaving the Senate, he has been called upon to lend his deserved reputation to tasks such as bringing together the parties to the century long Irish dispute, the cause of bloodshed, death, broken lives and despair. In the judgement of many, he was largely successful.

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Baseball’s travail is not of such earthshaking dimension. Lives may be affected, but the game will go on; reputations will be lost, up and down the line, and some may have to pay a price. Mitchell has had more important assignments.

This, however, is not to lessen the difficulties he faces, assuming that this is a serious attempt to forthrightly present
a full and complete account of what went wrong, where did those who were in a position to meet the problem, head on, fail, in their responsibilties to those people who love the game and, yes, to the players themselves, those who respected their self- integrity,who refused what appeared to some to be the easy way, as well as to those who were guilty.

We have yet to learn what the scope of the investigation will be. One thing is certain. Baseball can not be seen as investigating itself. The person assigned this responsibility had to be a person of impeccable reputation. It had to be Judge Landis, reincarnated. George Mitchell is a highly respected person. Nothing said here, in any way, is intended to question his integrity. Concern has been expressed by some, however, who point out that he is a director of the Red Sox, and that, in the past, he has been asked by Selig to sit on committees studying the economics of the game.

In defense of Selig, it is clear that the decision could not have been made by the collective ownership or a select group of owners. They are going to be in the line of fire to as great an extent as any individual or collective group. Keep in mind, that recently there have been assertions that shortly after the 1998 season as many as 19 players on the Giants, in addition to Bonds, were indulging. I have seen no
denial of that claim. There is no reason to believe that the Giants were unique in that respect.

This brings us to Bonds. This investigation, if it is to be meaningful cannot zero in on Bonds to the exclusion of all the lesser players, the .240 hitters who hit .260 when under the influence, the pitchers who were six game winners and managed to win nine after using a needle. It cannot forget Sosa and McGwire. It cannot only go after players currently playing and forget those who have long retired on ill-gotten gains. It cannot overlook the owners, who were solely concerned with bringing in more fans to the park, mindlessly believing that hitting more home runs was the answer to their concern that they weren’t attracting
enough fans.

A necessary target of the investigation has to be the Commisioner’s office, namely Selig. For more years than should have been the case, the use of performance enhancing drugs was a matter of common knowledge. Whether Selig thought this was a matter of concern, only Selig can answer. Since no steps were taken to bring this to a head and address the use, one has to conclude that it was not considered, by him, a serious problem. Management had their usual overriding interest in adding to their wealth. They, obviously, didn’t regard it as a problem to be addressed and removed from the game.

If this investigation is going to be worthwhile, if it is going to result in an overhaul of the game, hard decisions must be faced. Are there going to be disciplinary actions taken against players? Bonds was, by no means, alone. Are only prominent, possible Hall of Fame players subject to punishment? What should be the punishment if it is determined that punishment is on the agenda?

Pete Rose presented few of the complexities this investigation presents. He was a single player. He was found guilty of gambling on the game when he was the manager. Drug use is more complicated. This involves a major portion of those playing. Rose has been kept out of the Hall of Fame. Is Bonds, admittedly a Hall of Fame player before 1999, the year he is accused of giving in to temptation, to be refused entry? Will organized baseball be given a testing program with teeth in it, which program must be followed in the future? This is just a sample of the decisions which must be made.

Moreover, we still don’t know the extent of Mitchell’s authority. It must be clearly and publicly stated, so that there is no question that baseball has decided to clean house, wherever it leads. The spectre of Congress is hanging over their heads. That should be kept constantly in mind.

These thoughts are an early response to today’s news. I am sure that in days to come much more will need to be said.



1 Anonymous { 04.01.06 at 10:22 pm }


One pertinent question as to this whole matter:

–How did Fainaru Wada and Williams come into possession of sealed grand jury documents which form the basis of their allegations?

The misuse of such documents is a serious criminal act –why are they being allowed to publish based upon them?

2 Anonymous { 04.03.06 at 10:25 am }

Apparently Bonds’s lawyers are the only ones exhibiting a concern about the Grand Jury revelation. I have no idea whether their effort to keep the writers of the book from profiting from a misdeed is being pushed or, if so, is receiving a serious examination.


3 Anonymous { 04.03.06 at 10:28 am }

Apparently Bonds’s lawyers are the only ones exhibiting a concern about the Grand Jury revelation. I have no idea whether their effort to keep the writers of the book from profiting from a misdeed is being pushed or, if so, is receiving a serious examination.


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