The Owners Have The Power, But The Players Have The Balls

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When he filed suit against MLB and Bud Selig, accusing them of improperly investigating him, Alex Rodriguez robbed baseball of it’s last shred of dignity. Not that it had much left, but whatever there was, is now gone and Hal Steinbrenner was the one guy who could have prevented that.

If Yankees’ owner, Hal Steinbrenner, had a pair, baseball wouldn’t be in this position.

If he had a pair of ears, he’d have heard the groans of baseball fans as ARod took the field and embarrassed the vaunted Yankee pinstripes.

If he had a pair of feet, he could walk the hallowed grounds of Yankee stadium, dripping in rich history and swell with pride for his franchise, perhaps walk a day in the shoes of a ground keeper that carefully manicures his field and comprehend the importance of something bigger than his bank account.

If he had a pair of synapses surging through his cerebral cortex, he’d know ARod was going to sue baseball anyway and would have sought to minimize damage by disallowing the disgraced player’s reinstatement to the Yankees.

If he had a pair of hands, he’d have ripped up ARod’s obscenely large paycheck and tell him it was “File 13’d,” then tossed #13 out of his office.

If he had a pair of cojones, he wouldn’t have allowed ARod to bully baseball. He would have accepted his leadership role in ending an embarrassing parade of cheaters waltzing through the sport and made ARod an example that talent and production will not be purchased at the cost of integrity.

But the truth is, MLB owners don’t seem to want a clean sport, don’t seem to think they need it and therefore, their commissioner, Bud Selig has been apathetic towards finding a solution.

For years MLB has lulled the American public to sleep with a nostalgic notion of yesteryear’s purity, while allowing players to plunge into the progressive world of performance enhancing drugs headlong.

For years Bud Selig claimed the players union was so strong, too strong, and inhibited his efforts, while his indifference did the damage no union could.

And for years, as pay rolls exceeding the GDP of many European nations and players were guaranteed parts of billions because they jammed a needle in their arse and claimed it was “to heal,” baseball fans filled the stadiums and relished “America’s pastime.” Well, this is America and we are waaayyy past the time where leaders are excused for inaction. 

Know the name Curt Flood? You should. He changed the game of baseball. Radically. Sure he was a 3-time all star, won 7 consecutive Gold Gloves, played on 3 pennant winning teams and boasted 2 World Series titles, but it was what he did off the field that today’s players can thank him for. Flood fearlessly led the charge to institute free agency for all players at a time in baseball when players were essentially property of a team and a time in our nation when black men were heavily discriminated against. He lost court battles. Lost millions. Lost the remaining years of his illustrious career in the contentiousness, but 6 years later, other players won the rights to free agency and monstrous paychecks. Before his fight, Flood was told by then union leader, Marvin Miller, that he faced impossible odds; that he would surely lose everything in order to see future players win anything. According to reports, Flood said, “That’s good enough for me.” He knew fighting for a fair future for others was worth sacrificing an unjust present. Even if it meant losing millions for him.

Hal Steinbrenner could have done the same, if he had one-ninth the courage.

He could have led the charge of MLB owners to publicly decry performance-enhancing drugs. To publicly renounce his signing of a monstrous paycheck to a man who illegitimately earned it. He could have dared players to prove their worth in court while explaining their indiscretions and inappropriate means of success. He is one of the few men who could have prevented baseball from getting bullied and he is one of the few men who can bully ARod right back.

Instead, ARod filed suit. As he said he would. Without a shred of concern for consequence. And Hal Steinbrenner did what his father would never do: said nothing.

ARod doesn’t have to win in court for MLB to lose. They already have. With weak men like Steinbrenner and Selig allowing the sport to be bullied and not standing up for it, baseball has already lost much.

But in the wake of weak leadership, some star players, like Evan Longoria and Mike Trout and others are speaking out against egomaniacal bullies like ARod and doing the work the owners should be doing in decrying performance enhancing drugs. While the owners acquiesce to the “all powerful” players union, the players are announcing they’d be open to seeing contracts negated with positive drug tests. That’s the only way to get the syringes out of the sport.

While the owners might have the power, there’s a reason that the players have the balls.