Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) announced an agreement on an update to their drug policy. The agreements include some provacative aspects:
a) The increase of the number of drug tests in the agreement includes people represented by neither the monopoly, MLB nor the Player’s Assn. Specifically, 200 players each year eligible for the amateur baseball draft will be asked to take a drug test. If they refuse, they will be barred from MLB.
b) MLB is assuring that all drug test results, inlcuding positive ones, will be kept confidential until punishment is announced. Since MLB has broken similar confidentiality promises in the past, leading to public knowledge of test results, such as Barry Bonds’ – the presumption is that the new independent program administrator will have this reposnibility.
c) No player from the Mitchell Report will be disciplined. The suspensions handed out to a couple players have been removed. Additionally, all players who are to be punished will have an opportunity to have their case heard by an independent arbitrator. How this will affect Barry Bonds, who it is widely speculated to have been blackballed from MLB for past association with steroid allegations, is unknown.
A few more notes on Bonds: It is a reasonable assumption that Barry Bonds has been blackballed this season. Actually, I know of no more reasonable explanation for why Barry Bonds is not playing baseball now. Consider:
1) Barry Bonds is still one of the best offensive players in baseball. Last season, he created over 10 runs per 27 outs last season, leading the major leagues.
2) Barry Bonds has shown a desire to play, has said he is in shape, and he and his agent implied that salary is not an issue.
3) His age is not an issue for a single year contract. The top 10 players at the same age as Bonds was last year all played the next season, except for Bonds and Stan Musial – who retired. The Toronto Blue Jays currently have 2 40 year old hitters on their roster.
4) Other arguments just do not seem reasonable. Let’s go through some, and see how they fit with Seattle Mariners as an example, because they have a weaker hitting DH, Jose Vidro (currently hitting .128). Personality: they signed Carl Everett to be their DH in 2006. Defense is irrelevant at DH. The unfounded perjury charges have been dropped against Bonds, so no concerns there for this season.
Additionally, it was the CEO of the Mariners (Howard Lincoln) who emphatically stated he would not sign Barry Bonds in any scenario he could imagine, “No, no, no!” In prior baseball decisions, he deflected to his GM Bill Bavasi. Example: when asked about heated internal discussions about Freddie Garcia between the manager and GM, Lincoln stated, “I’m not really the baseball guy on that. My cloudy recollection was that there was a debate on the baseball side about Garcia. A healthy debate. In the end, Bill made the right decision, by involving a number of people, including Melvin.” This states very clearly that Lincoln does not make the baseball decisions, the baseball people do that. So when he makes a strong decision on Barry Bonds, I guess it isn’t a baseball decision to Lincoln.
Let’s hope MLB lives up to the agreement they just signed and allows Barry Bonds a fair chance to play baseball in this country.