Taking Back the Union and the Game

Taking Back the Union and the Game  MLB

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a business; in fact, it is a very big business that generates commerce that is in the billions and billions of dollars.

Simplistically put, MLB is essentially composed of two groups of people, the owners and the players.  One, the owners, owns the instruments of the means of production (the fields/stadium, equipment etc…) that is used to produce a product that people want to buy. And, the other, the players, perform the labor to create the product (the action/spectacle on the field) that fans come to see, and, in effect purchase…  as well as buying other accoutrements (souvenirs, refreshments, etc…).  This process is repeated eighty-one times in each MLB stadium each year. And this  generates revenue for the owners who use part of that revenue to pay the players for their labor as well as other various and sundry expenses at which point (and this according to some owners never happens) the owners get to pocket a nice profit.

This is a simplistic manner in which to view baseball but it is an intrinsic and important concept to grasp. Because essentially, at its base, it is a true synopsis of what MLB is: A business that is subject to all the ups and downs of any business that is also subject to various regulations that include fair labor practices as well as the provision of a safe and equal work environment. The last part of the preceding sentence is an important notion to understand because no matter what anyone thinks about MLB players they are after all just a means for a certain group of capitalists, the owners, to make money. In other words they are just paid workers, very financially well off workers but workers none the less, and, as such deserve to have the same fair labor practices and the right to a safe and drug free workplace just like any other group of workers is entitled.

Players, from the first moment they sign a professional contract, are supposedly on equal footing with each other in that it is assumed they are competing equally on what each one of them brings to the table, or more exactly, the field of play. It is germane to the topic, that given the level of competitiveness, and the level of talent, among the players that these players will always try to find whatever edge they can in order to gain an advantage in their climb up the ladder to their ultimate goal: a place on a twenty-five man roster of a major league baseball team.

In a blog titled The Era of PEDs in MLB & Moving On: Is it possible?”,  I once wrote “… certain players used not so honorable methods to achieve their numbers and therefore their place in the (history pages) of the game. I learned of catchers, who before they returned the ball back to the pitcher, used sharpened belt buckles to cut and nick, to deface the ball, so that it would dipsy doodle uncommonly when thrown by the pitcher. I learned of spit balls. I learned how pitchers would use emery boards, petroleum jelly, or various other substances or methods to doctor the ball in an effort to give them an advantage over the batter.  I learned how batters used corked bats, how they shaved or honed their bats to be a bit flatter than the regulation rounded norm to gain an advantage over the pitcher. I learned how certain players would sharpen their spikes to an actual cutting edge so when they slid into a base they could cause harm to the fielder at the base with the express purpose of making that fielder hesitant to block a base when they slid because they feared those lethal spikes. I learned that at the professional level of baseball that a certain amount of cheating was allowable and was part and parcel to the play of the game. Just don’t get caught was the unwritten word, that was all. And if you did get caught, well, then accept the fine and suspension and move on.”

Essentially, it was accepted that certain”illegalities” in baseball were part of the game and were, in fact, considered a form of competitiveness.

Then in the 1970’s a sequences of events took place that would eventually change the structure of MLB and effect how players were paid and what they would do to get that pay.

Free agency and PEDs happened.

It is normally accepted that PEDs, or steroids, were not in baseball until the 1980’s but in a word that is “balderdash”.

Without rehashing the complete and involved history of steroids and their introduction into the sports world, which previously has been done many times, in print and online, I present the following sequence as a testimony of steroids’ introduction into sport of MLB.

  • In 1958 West Cost weightlifters are using steroids or what was known as Nilevar.
  • In 1960 Dr. John Ziegler administered a synthetic testosterone (Dianabol) to the 1960 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. There is no direct proof that in-competition Olympic team participators were using the drug though although there are sources that claim that as fact. But the fact was Ziegler was administering Dianabol to a selection of lifters who were associated with the team.
  • In 1963, Alvin Roy, strength coach of the San Diego Chargers, served the drug to players at the team’s training camp’s breakfast and luncheon tables.
  • In the 1970s, steroids, as well as amphetamines, were being used by athletes in all U.S. major league sports.
  • In 1981, the use of steroids was so widespread, and problematic, that their oversight was assigned to the FDA through the passing of an amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requiring that steroids be prescribed by a physician. At this point steroids were still not classified as a controlled substance.
  • In 1988, due to the ease of getting prescriptions and the fact that steroid use was now expanded to include high school athletes, the federal government enacted legislation to amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. On November 18, 1988 the Anti-Drug Abuse Act created criminal penalties for those who “distribute or possess anabolic steroids with the intent to distribute for any use in humans other than the treatment of disease based on the order of a physician.”

Thus, from 1958 to 1988, steroids had found their way into every level of amateur and professional sports.

The following sequence essentially leads to what is the players’ union leadership’s (Donald Fehr and Gene Orza) grudging allowance of testing of MLB players:

  • On October 5, 1990, Congress toughens its stance with the Anabolic Steroids Control Act, which places steroids in the same legal class as amphetamines, methamphetamines, opium and morphine.
  • On June 7, 1991, MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent sends a memo to each team announcing that steroids have been added to the league’s banned list. No testing plan is announced.
  • On July 15, 1995, in an article by Los Angeles Times sports writer Bob Nightengale, Padres general manager Randy Smith is quoted as saying “we all know there’s steroid use, and it is definitely becoming more prevalent.”  Tony Gwynn is quoted as saying, “It’s like the big secret we’re not supposed to talk about.”
  • On August 7, 2002, the MLBPA and MLB agree to their first joint drug program since 1985, calling for anonymous testing to begin in 2003. If more than five per cent of the steroid tests are positive in 2003 or 2004, players would be randomly tested for a two-year period. Players will not be punished for a positive test.
  • On November 13, 2003, MLB announces that of 1,438 anonymous tests in the 2003 season, between five and seven per cent were positive. This triggered the start of random testing, with penalties, as of 2004.

But, if we delve even further into sources we can find that in 1888 the first player to use an enhancement product that could be considered similar to steroids was Hall of Famer Pud Galvin.  Galvin used a Brown-Séquard Elixir (Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard advocated hypodermic injection prepared from the testicles of guinea pigs and dogs as a means of prolonging human life. It was known, among scientists, derisively, as the Brown-Séquard Elixir) which contained testosterone drained from animal gonads which made the claim that if taken it would increase strength.

In a February 17, 2011 FanGraphs.com article, Alex Remington wrote, “It should hardly be surprising that this issue goes back a really long time. Back before steroids, back before greenies became ubiquitous in clubhouses, back before the spitball was banned in 1920 … Hall of Famer Pud Galvin was known for using something called ‘The Elixir of Brown-Sequard’, which was basically animal testosterone, as early as 1889.”  Remington adds that, “… Tom Sheiber, the curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who writes a personal blog called Baseball Researcher, discovered a brouhaha over alleged performance-enhancing drug use in the 1894 Temple Cup Series — a precursor to the modern World Series — between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Orioles, which the Giants won. After the Series ended, some of the Giants were alleged to have taken a strength-enhancing ‘elixir’ and thereby gaining an unfair advantage.”

Essentially what occurred was that the some of the Giant’s players took doses from a mysterious blue phial and the effect supposedly was the difference maker in the Giants winning the series.

The drug was not illegal, nor was it a prohibited substance by baseball rules. And according to Remington, Sheiber’s research extrapolated that the elixir the players took was probably a “… concoction named Cerebrine… (and)… Cerebrine’s makers proclaimed that it was an animal extract prepared from ox brains, but contemporary doctors alleged that it was nothing more than repackaged nitroglycerin.” The bottom line being that the real effect of the “drug” on any player’s athletic ability was negliable at best and, in reality, probably only a psychological edge if any edge at all. However, the point Sheiber… and Remington … make is “… (the players were) intentionally trying to enhance their performance. And yet I would assume that what they would think they were doing was completely fine …  You do what it takes to get yourself to a high level of your avocation… whether it’s Powerade today, which is totally legal, or some bizarre snake oil in the 19th century.”

Another example of a player looking to use a PED precursor is that Babe Ruth, in 1925, reputedly was injected with extract from a sheep’s testes. When Ruth fell ill from his attempted “shot” at enhancing his athletic prowess a press release stated that Ruth had “a bellyache” due to eating too many hotdogs.

At this point I want to clarify, and stipulate, that PEDs, or Performance Enhancing Drugs, are any drug that enhances a person’s athletic performance.

Having said this, it is important to understand that the use of PEDs was already widespread by the 1960s as it is now commonly accepted there was widespread use of “greenies” (amphetamines) throughout baseball. Simply put, amphetamines are a PED, and were in fact among the first substances banned by the Olympics.
Willie Stargell, Willie Mays, Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, and Dale Berra were all listed as players that used amphetamines in a drug trafficking trial back in 1985.

Pete Rose admits he used greenies and Mike Schmidt kind of, sort of, admits he used the drugs.  Also, we know there are now hundreds of quotes from former players that say players used PEDs, including some steroids, in the 1960s and 1970s is but similar to the so-called crossing the thin blue line in police departments there was a thin chalk line in baseball that players were loath to cross. Due to a misguided loyalty to teammates, or, a fear of being labeled a rat, no one uttered a word about PED use back then.

The most important, and probably, the best documented piece of testimony there is about the use of steroids from that era are the words of Thomas Ross House. House is a former MLB relief pitcher who was also a Texas Ranger pitching coach in 1985 and was instrumental in helping Nolan Ryan (By Ryan’s own admission during his HOF acceptance speech) become even better at his craft then he had been before becoming a Ranger. House was also a coach for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and the Ciba Lotte Marines (Japan). He is an advisor with the American Sports Medicine Institute, and, is the co-founder of the National Pitching Association.

House has admitted to using anabolic steroid in the 1970s making him one of the earliest players to admit to using that form of performance-enhancing drug. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he described his use of steroids as “a failed experiment”.  House says his experiments with steroids added bulk to his physique (from around 190 pounds to around 220 pounds )but that his 82-MPH fastball, never got any better than what it was… a substandard 82-MPH fastball.  He also says he stopped using the drugs after he found out, in college classes during the off-season, about the potential for long-term detrimental physiological effects of steroid use to a person’s body. (House has a PhD in sports psychology from U.S. International University.) But what House further avers is even more extraordinary when he says that “six or seven pitchers on every major league staff in the 1970s were fiddling with steroids or human growth hormone.”  Baseball

The reality of the situation is that be it a player from the long forgotten era of Pud Galvin, or, the Babe, or, from not so long ago history of the 1960s, 1970s on to today, players will always look to enhance their performance in whatever way they can. Some more will do so more than others and some more unfairly or more drastically than others.

Whether it be a player such as pitcher Gaylord Perry who as an admitted cheater (and by some folks thinking, a glorified one) who purposely broke the rules by throwing a spitter or a greaseball and thereby gained entry into the Hall of Fame primarily due to the fact that he attained 300 victories as a pitcher with a very effective spitball.  Or, a player such as Hall of Famer third-baseman Mike Schmidt, who some years back, admitted that his contemporaries used amphetamines, during the 1970s and 1980s.

In his book, “Clearing the Bases”, Schmidt states that amphetamines “Have been around the game forever … (and) in my day, they were readily available in major league clubhouses.”  Although Schmidt does not admit in his book that he used amphetamines he later said in a 2006 telephone interview with the  New York Times, “A couple of times in my career, I bit on it … There were a few times in my career when I felt I needed help to get in there (on the field).”

The whole point of this expository is that sports are entertainment and people like to be entertained and are willing to pay for that entertainment if need be if they feel it is worth the asking price. And, if they do feel it is worth the price they will pay through the wazoo.  And the truth is that now people do pay some very exorbitant amounts of money to watch baseball players play a game better than any single one of us could ever play.

Since the time of free agency, when players were no longer indentured to a single team for life, players make a lot of money because they are so damn good at playing the game, and, it follows that the better the players play the game the, then the better they are paid. And, better players tend to win more games, and, winning begets bigger crowds… money spending crowds.

But what happens when players realize their best is not what it used to be either due to debilitating injuries, age, or, just plain eroding skills? What happens when they realize they may not be able to live up to the contract they already accepted and will eventually suffer in the paying public’s eye when the people see they  just are not as good as they used to be and maybe even start to boo? In short what happens when they can no longer justify getting paid the big bucks anymore?

Or, what happens when, as some players have actually said, the injured athlete feels that they have an obligation to live up to their contracts or they owe it to the team to get back on the field and contribute to a pennant run?

On January 11, 2010, Mark McGwire said exactly that, when he expressed regret for his decision to use steroids, but justified his drug use by saying it was caused by his desire to overcome injuries, get back on the field and prove he was worth his multimillion-dollar salary. As did Andy Pettitte when on December 13, 2007, he issued an admittance that he used HGH on two occasions and he said he did it to heal faster and but not to enhance his performance. He also said he “… felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped (although, if he did use HGH, he did so without a prescription and therefore was violating US law which in and of itself is a violation of MLB’s CBA, and, therfore it was against MLB rules.) He added that “… two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list… I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.”McGwire

(Writers note: Although I actually believe both men when they say these words, or at least I believe they believe their justifications, I also believe they are (1) not being entirely truthful in that they are not stating the whole story about heir drug use and/or (2) fail to grasp the concept that what they did was illegal and unethical and can, and probably does, cheat other baseball players from having their rightful major league careers.)

But,for whatever the reasons, it is simply that players begin to look for an edge for the simple fact there is too much at stake, in both money and pride, for many of them to stay within the rules, if not the laws, that are  currently in place.

There is a survey that is called the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. The surprising fact is that over 50% of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey every two years for the next ten years, the results were always near, or about, the same.

Recently, some researchers in Sydney, Australia asked non-athletes the same question.

In the February, 2009 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it was reported that exactly 2 of the 250 people surveyed said that they would take a drug that would ensure both success and an early death. The study’s authors said that this surprised them and that they had hypothesized that at least 10 to 20 percent people would say yes.  Albeit, not as many as the elite athletes but still a relatively sizable amount.  When one of the authors saw the results of the non-athlete survey the conclusion was that “… elite athletes are different from the general population, especially on desire to win.”

But the bottom line is that any drug that is banned by law, or banned by law without a doctor’s prescription and administered under a physician’s care, is simply not supposed to be used by a MLB player. And MLB and the MLBPA has agreed that these drugs are explicitly not to be used by MLB players except under extreme circumstances and then only for certain types of drugs, for instance, Adderall which essentially is an amphetamine like drug that is used for people with ADD.

So given the Goldman Dilemma and the fact that athletes are “different”, why and how did we get to the conundrum that is today? By that I mean why is there such a hard time convincing players they should not “cheat” and exposing those that do “cheat” and subjecting them to real penalites for their  “cheating” ways?  And, why does MLB have such a hard time expunging a circumstance (cheating through drug use) that most participants in MLB seem to agree upon and feel needs to be expunged?

I can explain why the drug problem is so hard to erase in a select few words: The MLBPA’s leadership, or principally, Donald Fehr.

(Writers note: the following italicized words are almost word for word from piece I wrote for “Informative Sports”.)

Fehr himself says, ‘Baseball players have not gotten the economic gains they have achieved primarily through antitrust litigation… They achieved them through a series of tough negotiations and work stoppages… most of them short, and a couple really long ones. That kind of shared sacrifice and shared experiences creates a bond, creates reliance, creates mutual respect by the player for one another.’ And he also said, ‘All I can tell you is we’ve, (union representatives), got an obligation to represent the players. It’s not to be the nicest guy in the world; it’s not to be the most well-liked guy in the world. It’s to negotiate the best kind of agreement consistent with what the players’ interests are, and what they want you to do.’

Fehr’s success rate in dealing with MLB has taken on critical damage due to the issue of drug testing for steroids and certain other drugs, such as amphetamines. The union’s rigid stance against mandatory testing has caused division even within the union membership itself. The MLBPA, until 2002, cited players’ civil liberties and the fact without evidence of a player using or being associated with drugs there would be no cause to test that player.  Many people, including myself, have questioned why the union, specially influenced and led by Fehr and Gene Orza, would literally throw the larger part of the union membership, the innocent membership, under the bus to protect players who had something to hide.

The history of the union’s stance on drug testing definitely begins with Marvin Miller and his much public belief that the union membership should never be tested because it is a distinct violation of a person’s freedom from self incrimination as protected under the constitution of the United States. But the exact groundwork and the aegis of the union’s anti testing position were defined in 1986.

In 1986 when Donald Fehr was a rookie executive director for the MLBPA, he was a key person with a situation involving players that got caught in a drug sting concerning an international drug cartel that was vending illegal drugs, specifically cocaine. Peter Ueberroth was the commissioner of MLB at the time and he went out of his way to take the opportunity to come down hard on the players that were involved in the sting by law enforcement officials, as buyers and users of these illegal drugs. He wanted to use the players who had admitted their involvement to the judicial system to avoid prosecution as examples that drug usage in Baseball would not be tolerated so he suspended the players for one year from playing in MLB. However, Ueberroth also wanted to do something more than just exact punishments from players. He wanted to establish a comprehensive drug-testing program that had penalties that would deter future players and illegal drug use in Baseball. So, he offered the suspended players a deal. He said if the players would submit to random drug testing, perform one hundred hours of community service and donate up to 10% of their salaries to community drug program he would waive the suspensions. All the players’ involved with the reality of their suspensions willingly agreed to Ueberroth’s plan. Ueberroth thought he had resolved a major scandal and finally established a well thought out and formulated program that could keep illegal drugs out of baseball. Ueberroth was wrong. The players association led by rookie executive director Don Fehr, interceded on the player’s behalf and came away with no testing. Fehr had established the precedent and the design of the drug policy that would be the lynchpin of the union’s argument against drug testing in MLB.  The unions stance and the policy that was in effect until 2002 when Fehr in collective bargaining finally relented due to outside pressures to allow limited anonymous drug testing in 2003.

… Because of (Fehr’s) actions then, players were never to submit to any testing for drugs whether the drugs are the then illegal so-called recreational drugs, (cocaine) or today’s performance enhancing drugs, (steroids, etc.) until 2003. While it may not be as simple as saying the players blindly followed Fehr’s lead, his past successes in negotiations with MLB however does explain why the union membership tacitly were for so long behind Fehr, and his union counsel, Gene Orza, regarding the union and their immutable anti testing position.

The next part is a crucial point in understanding what  the present Biogenesis situation has done, and how the players and the Union are now demanding and coming to the forefront to correct what I believe was one of the biggest errors any union, not just the MLBPA, can possibly do to its membership.

(Underlining added for emphasis)

…  Union leadership, Fehr and Orza, had a responsibility to the innocent membership, the greater part of the union membership, and (were) required to protect the union’s viability and integrity as whole. That as they continued to forestall a rational and comprehensive drug testing program in baseball, they were inherently protecting a minority membership and thereby neglecting the guiding principles of basic trade unionism, which is that greater good for the collective body as a whole needs to be forwarded rather than just the benefits for an individual member of the collective body. Simply put, if protecting rights of a member of an organization causes more severe damage to the other parts, members, of an organization, then it needs to be dealt with and needs to be dealt with effectively and with immediate attention and response. If a person has cancer in their body, shouldn’t they treat that cancer even if it means invasive and potentially debilitating surgery?

But it goes beyond that logic, i.e., the fact is Donald Fehr is a lawyer and is duty bound to report all criminal activity that he uncovers to duly appointed legal authorities. If Fehr is aware of someone engaging  in illegal activity, whether it is procuring, selling or using illegal drugs or even lying under oath about knowledge of illegal activity he as a lawyer should be ethically and morally bound to take action against that activity and by that same duty protect the organization that hired him to do exactly that.

The first rule of a good trade unionist is to do good for the union; to do good for the membership, who are the union. And if that duty and (Fehr’s) responsibility as a lawyer could be disputed due to hazy legal interpretations, the fact that he is the executive director of a trade union cannot be disputed and therefore his duty and responsibilities in that capacity to the trade union cannot be disputed either. He must, by the fact of his position, lead his trade unionist membership in a way that protects the union as a whole, i.e., he must do whatever is better for the whole membership rather than what is simply good for just one individual if that protection will cause the other members injury. This is not open to interpretation rather it is a definition of what trade unionism is. (Bold type added for emphasis.)

Yes, ball players are richer than ever. They have been insulated from certain practices that are common in the real world, such as drug testing. However, the union’s guiding principle should not be just blind adherence to making money and protecting individuals. The union must consider the health and the safety of its entire membership. It must protect the reputations of the whole membership. It has a social, moral and an ethical responsibility to uphold the basic tenets of what the founders of trade unionism wanted to bring to labor in the very first battles against management. Protection from any violation of a collective body to be able to work in a safe and healthy workplace.

And this is where Fehr dropped the ball and committed his most grievous error as the leader of the strongest trade union in America. Yes, the issue of steroids and testing is complex. And Fehr has never advocated the use of steroids or any other illegal drug. And sorting out who did what and who is to blame for what in the issue of steroids is veritably impossible. And no one should even try to blame the totality of the problem of steroids on Donald Fehr. He didn’t create the problem of illegal drug use in baseball.  The problem was that he did not do enough to fix the problem of illegal drug use either. 

But now the Biogenesis scandal has accomplished what no single entity previously could accomplish, specifically, regrown some of the union membership’s balls, and, the players, or the union members themselves, are taking the bull by the horns and are speaking out and demanding that baseball move toward more severe punishments and deal forthrightly with players who use drugs in MLB. They, those who are assumed to be clean of drug use, are tired of having their reptuations and names drawn down into the mud and convicted of being cheaters by their mere association with players who not only use drugs to enhance performance but then compound their misfeasance and malfeasnace acts, by lying and casting dispersions upon other peoples resonsibilties in and throughout the chain of the testing process.

When the players heard about Ryan Braun and the deal he cut, a lot of players were, to put it mildly, unhappy or dissatisfied. One reason for this disgruntlement was that Braun may be disgraced, he may have lost 65 games from his career but he still gets to collect the bulk of his contract or roughly a  guaranteed roughly $127 million between now and 2021. And, he out and out lied right to their faces and lied about other peole involved in the testing procedures and quite possibly committed outright libel.

But now something different was occurring in player’s reactions. Yes, there were the de rigueur responses to the reporter’s questions that the “situation needs to play itself out and blah, blah, blah” but some other players were more pointed in their comments.

  • “I thought this whole thing has been despicable on his part,” (Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer)

And this:

  • “Watching him talk right now makes me sick,” (Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker)

And this:

  • “We had conversations, and I considered him a friend. I don’t think anybody likes to be lied to, and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed.” (Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp)

Scott Miller, senior baseball columnist, for CBSSports.com wrote “This backlash is extraordinary … More than ever, players admirably and impressively are beginning to take charge of their own game. The inexplicable Code of Silence that was pervasive as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and others were in their primes has blown up. This is a different generation of players, and they’re less tolerant than their predecessors.” Miller added that “… these words from Scherzer, Schumaker, Kemp and others (are) so valuable. The players themselves are empowered more than anyone else to clean up their own game.”

And present Union chief Michael Weiner has said that the players “want a clean game, and they have very little patience for players who are trying to intentionally cheat the game.”

And yet more revealing, and in my opinion very welcome, are these words from Weiner: “I can tell you, if we have a case where there really is overwhelming evidence, that a player committed a violation of the program, our fight is going to be that they make a deal. We’re not interested in having players with overwhelming evidence that they violated the (drug) program out there. Most of the players aren’t interested in that. We’d like to have a clean program.” This is a 180 degree turn about, and literally a world of difference, from the previous MLBPA leadership’s stance regarding drugs use among MLB players and in the MLB work place and how players found guilty of illegal drug use should be treated.

The fact is that it, what Marvin Miller first foresaw when he organized the players into trade unionists, is working.  It took awhile to get there and unfortunately the leadership of the union made some tactical errors in its over zealousness to protect workers’ rights to retain jobs in the face of punishment for violations of certain agreed upon work rules but the union is doing exactly what it was designed to do which is to provide the members of a workplace a forum where they can voice their opinions, grievances and positions on how to actualize what they want done in a strong organized voice to effectively create a safe and fair work environment for the overall good of the law, and rule, abiding members of the union.  The membership of the union are doing exactly what their trade union, what any trade union, is designed to do which is they are speaking up and demanding that the tools be put into place that create and demand that a safe and functional  work place be established so that the whole membership of their trade union have an equal chance based on ability of their natural skills (honed through their own personal labor) to gain a position in their chosen profession which is to be one of the twenty-five players on one of the thirty rosters of a major league baseball club

Martin Luther King once said “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

I have always believed in the purpose of the players union but I also have believed that its leadership was being sincerely ignorant in its stand on protecting the guilty few and that the players were being conscientiously stupid in their silence and lack of condemnation of the leaderships’ folly.

It may be hard for some to feel empathy for multimillionaires (not all MLB players are in that class although all players do make a lot of money for playing what is essentially a game… a high level game but still a game) but understand while the union is established  for its entire membership the union is not there so much to protect the big money superstars who already got theirs as much as it is there for the journeyman who just wants that chance to make it to the majors as the last guy chosen when spring training camp breaks and will be able to know he can get the job because he worked his ass off in a fair, clean and safe competition and no one was able to cheat him from his rightful place, as well as his cup of coffee, in the Big Show.

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  1. Amazing stuff here. I recently had a somewhat drunken discussion with a couple of friends over the whole PED thing (we were pretty buzzed) and we all felt that performance enhancing really couldn’t be a recent thing. There had to be some sort of legacy of players trying to enhance their performance.

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