Friday, December 14, 2007

The Morris Report

I feel compelled to give my 2 cents about this thing.

Unless you've been living in cave - you know what happened in Major League Baseball yesterday. Former Senator George Mitchell came out with his report, commissioned by MLB, to address the Steroid issue in baseball today.

Honestly - MLB can't do anything right. The way this report is structured and published, there is clearly a big window for players to claim slander and that the two or three main "informats" are lying. Yes - they asked the players to participate and the players declined - but that was the BRILLIANT strategy that was structured by the Players Union because they DIDN'T HAVE TO PARTICIPATE. What is going to be interesting is what Congress does with the report. I don't care what Selig says they are going to do b/c he ultimately won't do anything unless he's forced. Congress inevitably is going to bring up the issue of the records and statistics which will be fun to watch. The whole thing is rooted in the anti-trust exception which gives Congress control over EVERYTHING that MLB does (albeit indirectly).

Also - if I'm a politician - nothing but good pub for me can come from me helping to clean up a rotten game. It's a politician's dream - great publicity for them, huge media coverage, visible impact in something that people care about. (as opposed to a direct impact on something like... I don't know... education - which people care about but not as much as baseball).
If MLB was smart they would take the issue and split the union over it (players NOT using Juice vs. players who ARE), theoretically weakening the union and breaking their stronghold on everything from collective bargaining to steroid testing. If I'm Selig I say, "Clearly we have a problem that we have to fix - but I can't do it alone. I am pleading to the individual players who don't cheat, and who also want to clean up our game, to work with MLB and to rid our game of this poison. If you're not a cheater - join with me to eliminate the cheating from your game, my game, and America's game. It's not enough to be the best athlete you can be... you also should strive to be the best person you can be. Be a role model to the children of the US, be a role model to your own children. X number of children suffered medical illnesses due to steroid use in the US last year. Help us overcome this catastrophic realization." If I'm Selig - I keep pleading with them until they come forward. Be over the top and be diligent. If nothing more - he looks like he is doing all he can and the players union is hindering him. Congress will then attack the Union and not MLB. Use Congress to break up the union to your benefit. That's too obvious, though.

Don't get me wrong - they'll never get rid of steroids, greenies, etc. There isn't even a test for HGH because the body produces it naturally and everyone produces different amounts at different ages of your life. What Selig doesn't get is that, currently, he's trying to save face instead of turning this issue around breaking the union up. For years the union has controlled MLB and right now Selig holds all of the cards but he doesn't realize it. He needs to fine the owners and GM's who willingly knew that players that were using to make him "seem" unbiased. Then he needs to go after the players...
There are players who are not using. There has to be. He needs to find them and get them to help him (or at least appear to be trying to get these guys on his side). Then he says to Congress, "I've been trying to get players and their union to cooperate but they won't. I'm certain that there are clean guys in this game, but they won't come forward. I've implemented stringent testing but it's not enough." If Fehr is getting heat from congress, Selig can promise (in a back room somewhere) to back off in exchange for something like... say... a salary cap. Granted - that's shooting high - but depending on how vigilant Congress is he could really spin this thing in his favor.

That would be my strategy if I ran baseball. There may be holes in my plan because a lot depends on Congress's leverage, but I think that will be there. Selig could even turn around and plead to congress for help. See - that's the way a witch hunts work. You need to align yourself on the side that's going to look the best in the public eye and ride it as far as you can. You'd be surprised how much MLB could accomplish with this if they just play it right. Then you use your strong relationship with congress and stance on steroids as leverage in collective bargaining.

Ok - I'm done, now. More about the kids tomorrow!