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Want to clean up baseball? Try this, Bud

BaseballRyan BraunAlex RodriguezMelky CabreraPoliticoDavid Letterman

Bud Selig contends his sport is “cleaner than it has ever been,’’ and he’s right, if only because baseball couldn’t be worse than the 1990’s and early 2000’s after Selig’s bunch seemingly to a man at ownership level intentionally looked the other way because chicks dug the long ball.

And Selig is right just as long as you define “clean’’ as “still so filled with roided-up players that they’re trying to suspend a bunch of them for hundreds of games no matter how flimsy their chances of making it stick.’’

Selig told Politico how clean his sport is amid baseball’s investigation of the Biogeneis clinic in Miami that is accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to a lot of major league players. Selig later told David Letterman a “day of reckoning’’ is coming for those players at some point after the All-Star Game.

Question for you: Do you need a “day of reckoning’’ if your sport is cleaner than it has ever been?

I’ll hang up and listen for continued nonsense.

Baseball apparently wants to nail Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. Cue Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men’’ telling Tom Cruise “You want me on that wall. You NEED me on that wall.’’

The unlikeable Yankee already was busted for steroids and said he quit, but everybody believes he was still lying. Braun was busted for PED use, then got off on a technicality, embarrassing the system that Selig is so proud of, so sure of.

So, A-Rod and Braun are atop the Biogenesis list. It would appear they’ve been named by the stoolie who ran the Miami drug clinic. Nice character witness there, huh? That’s pretty much Selig’s source – that guy and his notes. The players have not tested positive for anything except bringing more negative publicity to the game.

No matter. Selig and his gang seemingly will suspend everybody whose name was found inside those walls in Miami. Some players will get 50 games, some 100. The players association will fight this and probably win in a rout.

Why would baseball put itself in a position to fail the way it did when Braun won his case based on mishandling of a urine sample? Baseball looks desperate as it relies on flimsy legal standing.

Obviously, baseball’s wonks can’t get the players to be as clean as they’d like or they claim. Selig might fight that characterization, but his home-run leader has to answer questions about how clean he is, so his sport’s image still needs work. Rules only clean up so much, and that apparently is not enough.

Try this: When a player gets suspended for PED use, his team loses that roster spot for the length of the suspension. If it’s 50 games, then a team plays the next 50 games with 24 men.

Seems to me, teams would have an intense interest in keeping their players clean. In fact, it might be so intense that teams would have detectives on staff, and who knows what kind of technology they could use to monitor players.

What’s more, denying a team the use of a suspended player’s roster spot plants the responsibility in the middle of the clubhouse. Nothing in sports seems to work like peer pressure. Players can police their own better than Selig’s wonks.

I don’t know if Melky Cabrera would’ve been as good without PED’s last season, but if his Giants teammates knew he was juicing and they might have to play a season short-handed, I think they would’ve stepped in. And if they wouldn’t have confronted Cabrera, then it would’ve been their own fault and they probably wouldn’t have won the World Series with that handicap.

Obviously, the penalty that baseball enforces isn’t enough to dissuade players from cheating. The big contract for spectacular hitting is worth risking a 50-game suspension. But if those 50 games linger and affect the rest of the team and ownership, then you’ve brought in another powerful dynamic.

If you want to make the game cleaner than it has ever been, then place greater responsibility on a greater number of people to clean it up.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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