Imagine for a moment that your bank had its entire database of customer information raided: Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords, past transactions. Good news: they only stole a limited segment of customers, only those with credit ratings below 600. Bad news: your credit has taken a pretty big hit in the last year, and you’re pretty sure you’re on the list.
David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa are on The List. We’re still missing a lot of names. Should we just reveal the rest?
Good news: the government managed to seize the list before the bad guys could do anything with the info. Bad news: the government turns out to be even worse than the bad guys, and they start leaking names from the illegally obtained confidential data. Worse news: your bank is big, and as it turns out, the list includes a couple of big name people with big-time credit problems.
Maybe the worst news of all: every financial pundit in America is blaming the people on this list for the bad economy, and they’re demanding the entire list be revealed, just so they can clear the air and move on with their lives (as if that would be easier if they only knew the names of all the Citibank customers with bad credit).
I’m guessing if your name was on that list, you would want it kept a secret. And you’d have every right. We happen to live in a country that professes to value the rights of people. While “innocent until proven guilty” matters very little in the court of public opinion, it still is supposed to carry considerable weight when it comes to the law. If your financial records (or your drug-test records) are legally protected, they should stay legally protected. Prior illegal breeches by government officials, lawyers, and journalists shouldn’t change that.
Alright, let’s hear it. That’s a totally different example because ______. Let me guess how one might fill in that blank.
People with bad credit didn’t do anything wrong. The evil, cheating steroid users did.
Uh, technically, no. While illegal steroids are, well, illegal and were therefore banned under MLB’s pre-2002 “memo from the commissioner” drug policy, not all performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are illegal.
As heavyweight hitman, Bronson Arroyo makes somewhat clear, androstenedione (andro) wasn’t banned in baseball until 2004 and was sometimes tainted with steroids. This January, two over-the-counter dietary supplements were found to be laced with steroids. Players on the list need not have broken any MLB rules or any laws. They could have landed on the list by taking legal, over-the-counter products.
And don’t forget: you don’t have to be taking steroids to register a positive test. Just ask the Vikings’ Williamses about that one. They tested positive for a steroid-masking agent not listed on the label of the weight-loss supplement StarCaps. If the MLB test in 2003 didn’t include masking agents, innocent guys like the Williamses wouldn’t have tested positive. Of course, if the MLB didn’t test for masking agents, mega-guilty steroid users could easily mask their steroid use, making the 2003 list far from comprehensive.
The limited reliability of the 2003 list (not to mention the anonymous sources behind the slow trickle of big names from it) assures me that it is not The List. It’s a list. The biggest (and most widely accepted) lie in all of sports is that the 2003 list contains the names of every active player in 2003 who had ever used steroids. Barry Bonds was not on The List, but the government retested his sample and found steroids (paragraph 4 in link)—hey, what do you know!?! The list was proven inaccurate and incomplete before a single name was leaked!
To release this list in its entirety (and fallibility) would compound the injustice done against the privacy of those names already leaked. Say what you want about steroid users, but submitting to a drug test is a pretty significant concession of trust. They are being penalized more for their trust than for their violation of any rules. It is the scum who betrayed that trust—those who failed to destroy the samples and the records; those who embarrassed the legal profession by leaking private information; those who report that information but not the identity of their dirty, spineless informants—who are being rewarded. No one deserves to learn the rest of the names. A lot of people deserve to be punished for their actions surrounding those names.
But remember this: the list tells us nothing about the sport of baseball. Knowing the whole list would give the public a patently false sense of security about the steroid era. Because it’s not the whole list. So many users profess to using for a brief window of time. There are probably hundreds of users for whom the 2003 test was outside their window of experimentation. There may have been dozens of regular users who stopped using during 2003 in the vain hopes that the number of positive tests would fall below the threshold necessary to implement a permanent drug-testing policy.
Mark McGwire was out of baseball at the time. Barry Bonds didn’t even make the list. Jose Canseco would probably be a more reliable source about steroid use than this list or anyone who has seen it. I don’t want to see this list any more than I want to talk to Jose Canseco. The list was supposed to be destroyed as soon as it was created—good luck doing that now, but whoever attempts to reveal any more of it should be ashamed.
UPDATE: ANOTHER OPINION
There are a couple of interesting new posts over at Midwest Sports Fans. One is an open letter to the cheating liars who used steroids, in which Jerod suggests it would be beneficial for all past PED users to come clean. I’m not sure why any of them would. The only ones who seem to have anything to fear are the ones who tested positive in 2003. He also claims that a few guys have done the right thing and been honest about what they did. A) I doubt anyone has been completely honest about what they’ve taken, and, again, B) I don’t know why they would. According to just about every steroid confession ever (save Jose Canseco) no one has ever used PEDs for more than a couple of days.
Yeah, the honesty flows like sweet wine.
The second post is a collection of speculations from other bloggers about which Hall of Famer may have used steroids or other PEDs. This one is more about the business of blogging, speculating, and reporting (and then chastising, condemning, and denying).
I think the whole thing has become a farce. So much talk about ethics, morality, and integrity, so little talk about baseball. Yet this has become the stuff that determines the Hall of Fame now and the subject of blogs and sports talk radio (including this site read by several).
Isn’t it game time yet?