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Selig's playing of the McCain card seems to have worked wonders—the New York Times reported yesterday that Major League Baseball and the Player's Union have reached a tentative new agreement ripping up the 2002 drug policy, and replacing it with a regime that includes more testing (including in the off-season) and stiffer penalties.
So if the players and owners agree on something the fans seem to want, what's not to like?
Plenty. First, direct threat of an imminent government crackdown—a McCain specialty—is hardly the ideal condition for private employers and employees to hash out optimal labor agreements. If my boss were to demand suddenly that I submit to urine-testing, I wouldn't want the Senator from Arizona promising to crack skulls if I didn't agree. And unless baseball has some post-Moe Berg National Security component I'm unaware of, I don't see why Congress should care.
Second, the federal justice system should be about apprehending serious criminals, not "sending messages" to schoolchildren by abusing the grand jury process to compile and illegally leak publicly damaging information about non-criminals.
Thirdly, in an era when testosterone and other hormones are being used safely to treat various illnesses, isn't it time to ask why, exactly, they can't be used to help men who use their bodies for a living recover from the daily strain as they reach retirement age?
And finally, think back to poor Barry Bonds, if you can call a jerk who makes $19 million a year "poor." What if he told the truth under oath, and never knowingly took illegal or banned substances?
If that's the case, then the man who had the season to end all seasons was rewarded for it by A) being made the prime target of a multi-agency federal investigation backed directly by the president and attorney general; B) having his reputation (and endorsements-earning potential) deliberately shredded; and C) being forced to fend off continuous hostile cross-examination, even while compiling the best four-year run in baseball history.
There is such a thing as the presumption of innocence, no matter what you read in the sports pages. As it stands, Barry Bonds has not even been formally accused of violating a single baseball rule, let alone federal law.
President Bush has indeed "sent a message" to the kids of America: We can make you look guilty, even when you've never been charged. It's a rough lesson, but they might as well start getting used it.