Latest steroid investigation won't suspend Bonds' chase

March 31, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Now that Major League Baseball is ready to embark on a wide-ranging steroid investigation, it's probably a good time to temper the expectations of anyone hoping that Bud Selig will use his supposedly sweeping "best interests of baseball" powers to prevent Barry Bonds from passing Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the sport's career home run list.

Unlike early commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who swept all of the alleged Black Sox conspirators out of baseball in the early 1920s, Selig is limited in his ability to discipline players by baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

It is highly unlikely that he could suspend Bonds for past steroid use even if the investigation proves it beyond any reasonable doubt, because the conditions for such discipline are clearly prescribed in the Basic Agreement - and that discipline must be triggered by a positive steroid test.

The possibility remains, however, that Bonds could be suspended if he eventually is charged with some other crime stemming from the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative grand jury investigation - perjury, for example - or a rumored Internal Revenue Service inquiry.

It is true that former commissioner Fay Vincent and Selig each drafted anti-steroid directives during the 1990s, and some have tried to make the case that those edicts made steroids illegal in baseball before the first testing program was instituted, but neither directive had the force of baseball law.

Vincent appeared to concede that when he reacted to the pending inquiry in an interview with the Associated Press.

"I think the investigation is the right step," Vincent said. "I don't think the issue is punishment; I think it's: `Shouldn't the players be called to task for cheating, even if there is no punishment?' I think baseball has to recapture the moral high ground."

I can't understand why Bonds' life would be "in shambles." Let's see, he's facing an investigation by Major League Baseball after a tell-all book that basically charges he turned himself into a human chemistry experiment to break baseball's single-season home run record in 2001.

He was prominent in a grand jury probe into the distribution of steroids that sent his personal trainer and nutritional guru to prison.

He has been publicly embarrassed by the tawdry revelations of a longtime mistress and regularly vilified by the media for everything from his surly demeanor to his taste in clubhouse furniture.

Frankly, I think he sold himself short. This sounds much more like the next HBO hit dramatic series than some two-bit ESPN reality show.

Got a confession to make. Despite my ongoing attempt to portray myself as an old-school football fan, I think the NFL needs to get over the whole end-zone celebration thing.

Instead of crafting even more guidelines to keep Terrell Owens from being entertaining - as the NFL did this week - league officials should have just simplified them. Players should get 15 seconds to celebrate in the end zone and be as creative as they want as long as they don't directly taunt opposing players or fans.

I'd even allow props, though nothing larger than a standard-sized chain saw.

Thanks to an aggressive push by the people at The Links at Gettysburg, there will still be two Duramed Futures Tour events within driving distance of Baltimore this summer.

The developmental tour for the LPGA left York, Pa., after a long association, and was expected to hold just its annual event at Queenstown until the Gettysburg course scrambled to keep a second tournament in the region.

The Hunters Oak Championship in Queenstown and the Gettysburg Championship will be held on consecutive weekends in August.

Futures Tour officials said during a news conference Wednesday that they were surprised The Links at Gettysburg could put together all the elements for the event in barely three months. They were thinking 2007 when the idea was first broached by Links general manager Ken Picking.

Small world department: I was surprised to see Picking in a suit and tie. He's an old friend and former baseball writer for USA Today. Good to see some of us eventually find honest work.

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