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January 13, 2005
Baseball To Squeeze The Juice Out?

The Los Angeles Times reports that major-league baseball will announce a new steroid-testing regime that promises to take a much tougher stance than their previous agreement with the players union. Stung by a federal investigation that has cast doubt on historic performances by its marquee players, it appears that MLB and the players finally agree that public confidence must be restored in the game:

Baseball has hardened its policy against steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in an agreement reached between the players' union and owners that will be announced today, sources familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.

The amendment to the Collective Bargaining Agreement will mandate more frequent testing, random off-season testing and suspensions for first-time offenders, baseball sources said. ...

In light of growing concerns about steroids because of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal, and fearing an erosion of the public's trust in the game, [MLB commissioner Bud] Selig had requested a program more closely resembling that held in the minor leagues, which are not protected by the CBA.

Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees admitted his involvement in the BALCO scandal and taking steroids for several years. He went from having four straight seasons of above-.300 hitting to .208 in 80 games last year -- and his ballooned physique disappeared. Gary Sheffield also admitted taking steroids as part of the same program and saw his on-field performance decline after stopping, too. MLB's biggest nightmare is Barry Bonds, implicated heavily in BALCO but not conclusively known to be juiced. Bonds owns some marquee batting records, and in the eyes of many fans, those records have a taint that MLB allowed with its lax approach to juicing.

I applaud both the players and the league for finally stepping up and addressing the elephant in the room. Neither side really wanted to address steroid use until BALCO because both profited from their use. Players got to use an edge, and MLB delighted in the home-run derbies that steroids created. Fans, however, saw the difference and knew that these modern titans were little more than juiced-up frauds compared to the Hank Aarons of the past. One cheer to Selig and Fehr for smelling the coffee before it burned up completely.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 13, 2005 5:39 AM

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