Bud Selig backtracked on his stance of disciplining Alex Rodriguez on Thursday, but still made a statement that he must have thought sounded tough.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am saddened by the revelations concerning Alex Rodriguez's use of performance-enhancing substances," Selig said. "While Alex deserves credit for publicly confronting the issue, there is no valid excuse for using such substances, and those who use them have shamed the game. What Alex did was wrong and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation. His actions are also a reminder to everyone in baseball - under our current drug program, if you are caught using steroids and/or amphetamines, you will be punished."
He's right, they have shamed the game. But so has Selig. He's shamed it by continually purporting to be saddened by steroid use without trying to do anything to assure that the game is free of steroids. Yes, if you are caught testing today you will be punished. But going the extra mile, finding out about the stuff that doesn't show up on tests and the underworld where players are getting their drugs.
Instead Selig is pointing fingers, angry at the union for allegedly tipping players off about tests while the union is already licking its wounds about the breach of confidentiality in the 2003 tests. That wedge is going to keep pushing the two sides apart when they should be coming together to once and for all deal with the steroid issue head on. Instead, we'll continue to get this piecemeal blame game that happens every year before failing to create any substantive change.
Selig need look no further than the Yankees for a response that should be coming from his office. Brian Cashman acknowledged that only a fool would continue being surprised and saddened by something you can see coming miles away.
“I’m not here to represent that I’m confident of anything, on anybody,” Cashman said. “I think we’ve lived through a tough stretch that’s shattered that confidence level. If you’d asked me that question five years ago, I’d give you a different answer. But I’ve been educated quite a bit.”
We've all been educated except, it seems, Bud Selig. It's so telling that his first instinct was a weak attempt to punish Rodriguez, and not to use this as a chance to make real strides in solving the problem. At this point, you just have to accept that Selig won't ever do it because his office and the owners he represents will be heavily tarnished by any real investigation. That's the way it has to be though, because everyone is guilty.
Both King Kaufman and William Rhoden have made calls for a Truth Commission this week -- how nice that baseball needs to do what South Africa did after ending apartheid -- and they're right. Amnesty for everyone so that there's nothing but complete truth about everything involved in the intersection of baseball and steroids. Otherwise we'll just be resetting the clock for the next time Selig plays shocked and appalled.