MLB needs to take head from sand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When I was growing up there were three sayings I heard that I picked up and put into my pocket. First and foremost was &8220;honesty is the best policy.&8221;

The other two could be construed as conflicting tenets, but used with the third I somehow made them work. They were &8220;what somebody doesn&8217;t know won&8217;t hurt them&8221; and &8220;you aren&8217;t breaking the rules until you get caught.&8221; Of course if ever asked point blank I would refer to the most important afore mentioned rule, but being a rambunctious child the other two came in handy.

Which leads me to this week&8217;s triad.

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I am sure every baseball fan, and a large portion of the general public as well, has heard about the steroid usage in baseball. From Sammy Sosa to Mark McGwire to the demonized Barry Bonds. There are an endless number of admitted users and those accused.

The big story recently in regards to juicing in the MLB comes from comments made by New York Yankee Jason Giambi. Before I get into that, though, let&8217;s go back to 2004.

Unlike many players in professional sports Giambi stepped up to the plate and didn&8217;t take the easy route of denial, &8220;what they don&8217;t know won&8217;t hurt them&8221; path, when he admitted in a grand jury investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that he used steroids given to him by Greg Anderson, one time Barry Bonds trainer, while he was at the Oakland Athletics. He went the &8220;honesty is the best policy&8221; route.

While I have no personal ties to Bonds, it seems hard to believe that he and several other players aren&8217;t sticking to the &8220;you aren&8217;t breaking the rules until you get caught&8221; tenet. Which is all well and good to me, because I believe there is a lot more to pounding balls out of the park that big muscles (though it might put one that would otherwise fall up a hair short over the fence).

Which brings my digression into the past to the foreground. Recently Giambi, in an interview with USA Today said, &8220;I was wrong for doing that stuff,&8221; referring of course to performance enhancing drugs. This would have been fine if he had stopped there as far as the league is concerned, but he didn&8217;t.

Giambi continued saying: &8220;What we should have done a long time ago was stand up &8212; players, ownership, everybody &8212; and said, &8216;we made a mistake.&8217;

Steroids and all of that was a part of history, but it was a topic everyone wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it.&8221;

Here is where he got into trouble as far as the league is concerned. After making the comments the Yankees began investigating Giambi to see if he used drugs after signing with the team in 2001. The league also began an investigation, looking at his comments rather than usage.

Yankees general manager said, &8220;There is an implication that there was a lot of people involved that would know that, what was going on, and I can tell you that&8217;s false. We&8217;ve spoken to that in the past so I do have a problem with that, without a doubt, because I tell you &8212; I can speak from being right there, too &8212; that whatever happened goes on individually with these guys, is really on them.&8221;

In a nut shell the league is punishing the highest tenet, placing honesty before all else, in its reaction to Giambi&8217;s comments and subscribing to the lesser tenets, saying no one was caught and they didn&8217;t know.

Well, MLB I might not have been 100 percent, but I had an itching suspicion players were getting unnaturally big, unnaturally fast. To say you didn&8217;t notice as well is a big pill for me to swallow.

I say quit hounding Giambi and listen to advice from the man that sets his priorities a little higher than you.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at