With yesterday’s Sports Illustrated report of Alex Rodriguez testing positive for steroids in 2003, perhaps more incriminating than the actual revelation of A-Rod is the complicity of the MLB Player’s Association namely COO Gene Orza.
In Tom Verducci’s and Joe Torre’s book The Yankee Years, there’s a chapter that deals with all the steroids-related issues. After the 1998 season with Mark McGuire’s and Sammy Sosa’s chase for Roger Maris pitcher Rick Helling, the players’ representative for the Texas Rangers, went to the winter meeting of the Executive Board of the MLBPA crying out about the rampant steroid use in baseball (Verducci & Torre, 86-87). Just to show you the audacity of the union, in the 1998 winter meetings in Nashville, TN they brought in two doctors to give a presentation to executives and physicians on the benefits of using testosterone (Verducci and Torre, 88).
In this context it’s easy to see how a guy like Orza would have the audacity to think he could tip players off on their impending drug tests and have no qualms about it. This was all documented in the 2007 Mitchell Report, however in the SI report Orza is accused of tipping off A-Rod in September 2004. This goes further to show that not only did the union know about the drug use, but they are also complicit in allowing the players to continue to use drugs.
Up to this point, the union had always played by the rules. Granted the rules were lacking especially with respect to drug testing, but they had never broken anything as written in the collective bargaining agreement. Now an executive member of the MLBPA is shown as blatantly defying the CBA putting the entire union in jeopardy.
Basically this is big shit.
Granted there will be a lot of attention payed to A-Rod and his integrity. But the most devastating impact of this is the MLBPA’s integrity. If a player breaks the CBA he gets punished. But what happens if the union breaks the CBA?
Strap on your seat belts folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
AP File Photo/LM Otero