Selig battling history

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

If he has said it once, we've heard Bud Selig say it 1,000 times: "I'm a historian."

History will show that under Selig's reign as commissioner, Major League Baseball experienced expanded growth, entered into successful intra-league play and an expanded post-season format, and saw single-season home run records which attracted huge crowds.

And the further down the road we go it becomes increasingly apparent that Selig's legacy also will include him being known as the Steroid Commissioner.

Now, after again agreeing to increase penalties for positive tests, Selig wants to make them 50 games for a first-time offender, 100 games for a second positive offence and a lifetime suspension for a third violation.

Three strikes and you're out.

Don Fehr, head of the Players Association, responded to Selig and surprisingly did not say "take a hike."

Both sides already have opened up the existing basic agreement to make a first offence 10 days, a second 30 days, a third 60 days, a fourth a one-year suspension and a fifth failure, well, then it's up to the commissioner.

Fehr said that union representatives will discuss matters.

Remember when people laughed as U.S. President George W. Bush mentioned steroids as a problem in the 2004 state of the union address?

"The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous and it sends the wrong message that there are short cuts to accomplishment," Bush said.

What was wrong with baseball the way Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn and Ted Williams played?

And again there is talk of asterisks to be placed alongside the names of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds as single-season home-run record holders. As an aside, there never was an asterisk alongside the name of Roger Maris when he broke Babe Ruth's homer record in a 162-game schedule, rather than 154 games.

Forget asterisks. Worry about steroids among high- schoolers and collegians. To clean something up you have to start at the bottom, not the top.

BANNED SUBSTANCES

A minor-leaguer told us this spring how the club's team doctor addressed players and told them of over 100 banned substances. He then finished up by stating that many of the companies that sell weight-gain and nutritional products don't list everything on the label.

The summation: Don't buy anything at the stores.

Minnesota Twins reliever Juan Rincon was suspended Monday for 10 days after he tested positive, the fifth player banned since opening day.

Others suspended for violating the policy include Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez and Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra.

A total of 47 minor-leaguers have been suspended for 15 days.

Selig also wants to address the amphetamine problem in baseball, which has been around longer than anyone could spell steroids.

Selig, on pace to be remembered as the commissioner during the steroid era, now tries to clean up the mess.

We certainly don't qualify as a steroid expert, but we remember asking harness racing judge Black Jack Stewart why there suddenly would be a jump in positive tests in horses, then they would decrease, and then there would be another jump.

"As soon as the labs find a way to detect a drug," Stewart said, "the trainers find a way to mask it."

That is the history Selig is battling.


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