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wassagstdu
03-14-2004, 09:23 PM
I just watched part of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on drugs in baseball on C-SPAN. I would appreciate it if someone could explain the position of the MLBPA. According to Fehr, it is up to the government to declare performance-enhancing drugs to be illegal, so a player taking "andro" is not cheating. And they oppose random testing "without cause" as a violation of privacy under the 4th amendment. Yet they do allow testing, but only one test per year on any given player (so once you've tested clean, anything goes).

I have a few reactions. First, nobody pointed out that the victims include, in addition to the players who take the drugs by choice: the players who are denied the chance to play MLB or have their careers cut short because roster spots are taken by players who use performance-enhancing drugs; and also those who are pressured to take drugs in order to compete. Suppose a player takes drugs for a year or two, puts up all-star numbers, and signs a long-term, big bucks contract. Then, realizing that these drugs are poison, with long-term health consequences, he stops and his numbers go back to "baseline." The team is stuck with him, and he blocks a roster spot that some clean player who is naturally better than he is would otherwise take.

Second, with regard to the MLBPA position, the fourth amendment applies to law enforcement, not to the rules of a sport. We have a right to privacy from the government , but the constitution does not prevent a sport from having rules or from enforcing those rules by testing "without probable cause," since the rules have no legal implications. So isn't it the case that if the MLBPA had its way and the government took action to make these things illegal, THEN and only then would the requrement for probable cause apply.

Finally, the committee and all of the witnesses were nearly unanimous in condemning the use of performance-enhancing drugs and supporting thorough testing. The exception was Don Fehr, whose position was that the problem has been solved and no further action is necessary unless and until the government makes the drugs illegal. I agree with the Senators and with MLB -- and with 79% of players who want testing -- that this problem is close to destroying baseball and needs to be solved quickly. What do you think?

RichFitztightly
03-14-2004, 09:39 PM
I think that's an all-encompassing post that hits every point necessary.

misty60481
03-14-2004, 10:16 PM
if any player tests positive we need to enforce tough penalties not just a slap on the wrist, I heard a player has to test positive 5 times before they can suspend him

cornball
03-14-2004, 10:32 PM
I agree with you. Not only that most major companies require a drug test before hiring now. A Fortune 500 company thet I worked for several years ago had random testing as well, so it makes no sense.

This union will be taken down, along with baseball if they do not compromise. IMHO.

It is a shame and disgrace. The difference between right or wrong.

MarkEdward
03-14-2004, 10:51 PM
Originally posted by wassagstdu
I just watched part of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on drugs in baseball on C-SPAN. I would appreciate it if someone could explain the position of the MLBPA. According to Fehr, it is up to the government to declare performance-enhancing drugs to be illegal, so a player taking "andro" is not cheating. And they oppose random testing "without cause" as a violation of privacy under the 4th amendment. Yet they do allow testing, but only one test per year on any given player (so once you've tested clean, anything goes).
I have a few reactions. First, nobody pointed out that the victims include, in addition to the players who take the drugs by choice: the players who are denied the chance to play MLB or have their careers cut short because roster spots are taken by players who use performance-enhancing drugs; and also those who are pressured to take drugs in order to compete. Suppose a player takes drugs for a year or two, puts up all-star numbers, and signs a long-term, big bucks contract. Then, realizing that these drugs are poison, with long-term health consequences, he stops and his numbers go back to "baseline." The team is stuck with him, and he blocks a roster spot that some clean player who is naturally better than he is would otherwise take.

Well, everyday, some players take risks that other won't in order to make a major league team. A player will dive on rough turf attempting to make a catch whereas another player will let the ball drop for fear of injury. A player may step into a pitch in order to get on base whereas another player might get out of the way for fear of being hit by a ball. A young pitcher may constantly work on a breaking pitch whereas another may stick with fastballs and splitters for fear of hurting his arm.

Also, I really doubt steroids will give an average player all-star abilities. Manny Alexander was caught with steroids, no? His career was OPS+ was 57, so it doesn't look like the juice was helping him much. Even though I think steroids can help with some aspects of the game, I'm extremely skeptical that steroids can turn Mark Ellis into Jeff Kent.

Second, with regard to the MLBPA position, the fourth amendment applies to law enforcement, not to the rules of a sport. We have a right to privacy from the government , but the constitution does not prevent a sport from having rules or from enforcing those rules by testing "without probable cause," since the rules have no legal implications. So isn't it the case that if the MLBPA had its way and the government took action to make these things illegal, THEN and only then would the requrement for probable cause apply.

Well, since Major League Baseball has a unionized labor force, management (ie. the owners) cannot unilaterally enforce policies upon their workers. Obviously, since testing would affect the players, both the owners and MLBPA would need to discuss testing policies in a collective bargaining environment.

As for government intervention, this comes from Eugene Freedman, a labor attorney who occasionally posts at Baseball Primer:
The only way the government could intercede directly into the labor-management relationship would be if there were a strike that were so damaging to the commerce of the United States, as to interfere with national security, the President could intervene and order the workers back to work. This hasn't happened in my recollection since WWII. The Congress could not pass a law requiring Major League baseball players to take a drug test. It would violate the 4th Amendment. They could not prevent players from playing unless they "voluntarily" participated in a drug test because that would interfere with a fundamental right- the right to work. A strict scrutiny test is required where the government infringes on fundamental rights. The Supremes would never accept it. Almost any threat to the players (removal of the anti-trust exemption, elimination of business expense for tickets to entertain clients, prevention of public debt/funds for stadium construction) would hurt the owners more than the players. The IRS Restructuring Act of 1998 greatly reduced the IRS' audit powers. There has to be a certain flag for an audit to take place, they cannot be ordered by Congress. In fact, IRS employees who look up players' tax records or other celebrities, or anyone for that matter that is not related to specific work that they are assigned are subject to immediate discharge under the 1998 law. They could reintroduce the anti-trust exemption for Labor Relations, of course, but that only comes into play if the Union were to decertify. Then the owners could do whatever they wanted and the players could not individually sue like in the case of Freeman McNeil and the NFL over free agency. The most cohesive, powerful union in the US is not going to be decertified by the membership. Only the membership can vote for decertification, which is blocked by a contract bar. Five-percent of the membership would have to petition the NLRB for a decertification election within 90 days of the expiration of the current labor agreement. Until then, there is nothing that can shut this union's doors. The Department of Justice could bring criminal charges against the union for illegal activities (i.e. the Teamsters in the 1970s.) This lead to a consent decree that the Southern Disctrict of NY Federal Court oversees all Teamster elections, DOJ employees oversee all union expenses, etc. The same is in place with the Laborers International Union of North America. The consent decree was signed in 2001 or 2002. With what Fehr and his staff are paid there is no reason for corruption.

Finally, the committee and all of the witnesses were nearly unanimous in condemning the use of performance-enhancing drugs and supporting thorough testing. The exception was Don Fehr, whose position was that the problem has been solved and no further action is necessary unless and until the government makes the drugs illegal.

This is a bit off-topic, but I for one wouldn't really mind if these drugs were legalized. I suppose it's the libertarian in me, but I believe humans are an intelligent species. I don't think it's the job of the government to tell us what we can and can't put in our bodies. Seeing as though I seem to be the only one defending the other side of this steroid debate, I suppose libertarian blood does not run strong at WSI. :smile:

I agree with the Senators and with MLB -- and with 79% of players who want testing -- that this problem is close to destroying baseball and needs to be solved quickly. What do you think?

Two things:
1) When and by whom was this poll conducted? I don't remember the MLBPA taking a survey of the current players' reactions to this controversy. If 80% of the players believe the testing policy should be modified, then Fehr, Orza, and Weiner will definitely be looking to re-open talks on this subject.
2) Off the top of my head, I can think of three scandals larger than the current controversy that could've killed baseball. Alas, this great sport keeps chugging along.

MarkEdward
03-14-2004, 10:58 PM
Originally posted by misty60481
if any player tests positive we need to enforce tough penalties not just a slap on the wrist, I heard a player has to test positive 5 times before they can suspend him

I'm sorry to keep posting stuff from Primer, but here's Freedman's response to this post. I can't say I totally agree with it, but I can understand the union's position:
I posted a long explanation of progression of discipline in another thread:
One of a union's main objectives is to reduce the impact of disciplinary actions and discharges of their members. The drug policy was written with that in mind. If the punative results are low for the first offense and second offense that both protects the player by putting a policy in place that reduces the use of the banned substances, but it also protects the income of the players by not allowing them to be suspended for long stretches of time and establishes a major labor-management practice "progression of discipline."
Not only should the punishment fit the offense, but employees with no prior discipline should not be given a long suspension as the first discipline, it should build. This doesn't fit with a "at-will" employment situation that most people are in, but in a union environment where the burden of proof for discipline is on the Employer it is the norm. The same goes for the public sector where there are usually just cause provisions in the civil service laws even if there is no union or collective bargaining. It has to do with the whole government action, government taking, and due process.
But, in a disciplinary case the following things should be taken into consideration: the severity of the offense, the employee's prior disciplinary record, the employee's length of service, the employee's past performance, whether alternative lesser sactions could change the behavior, and whether the employee shows remorse, discipline issued for similar offenses for other employee's, among other things.
The current policy puts all of the above into effect without an arbitrator having to reduce penalties that are far too reaching. It's fair and negotiated.

Here's the thread from which I got these quotes:
http://www.baseballprimer.com/clutch/archives/00011040.shtml#comments_47

wassagstdu
03-14-2004, 11:16 PM
Originally posted by MarkEdward
Well, everyday, some players take risks that other won't in order to make a major league team. A player will dive on rough turf attempting to make a catch whereas another player will let the ball drop for fear of injury. A player may step into a pitch in order to get on base whereas another player might get out of the way for fear of being hit by a ball. A young pitcher may constantly work on a breaking pitch whereas another may stick with fastballs and splitters for fear of hurting his arm.

There is also a grey zone between performance-enhancing training/nutrition and performance-enhancing drugs. The critical difference in my mind is whether the "supplement" is dangerous or unhealthy in the long run. Clearly MLB and MLBPA are in no position to determine that, so here I guess I agree with Fehr's request for guidance from FDA. Is taking "andro" like diving on artificial turf? In a way, yes, but I would rather have my kids dive in imitation of baseball players than take steroids.

MarkEdward
03-15-2004, 01:29 AM
Originally posted by wassagstdu
There is also a grey zone between performance-enhancing training/nutrition and performance-enhancing drugs.

I suppose, without getting into semantics, that I agree with you. I mean, I kind of see supplements and drugs as the same thing. Overdose on either and you're screwed, to put it bluntly. Just to clarify: is a supplement considered a drug when it's made illegal. If MLB (or the government) bans protein drinks tomorrow, would they be considered drugs

Is taking "andro" like diving on artificial turf? In a way, yes, but I would rather have my kids dive in imitation of baseball players than take steroids.

Well, is it really the MLBPA's job to police your children? Teach them the dangers of steroids, and they'll most likely listen to you.