'Roid Rage


To the near-universal acclaim of editorial boards and harrumphing sportswriters, Major League Baseball has announced a new, stricter anti-steroids policy that includes much more urine testing and harsher punishments. Proving once again that few things will cause a private-sector labor union to change its mind quicker than open-ended Grand Jury smear-jobs coupled with a presidential threat of impending government action. Still, urinalysis enthusiast John McCain, like many sportswriters, isn't quite sated:

Major League Baseball's proposed agreement in principle on steroids appears to be a significant step in the right direction. Though at this time I do not believe legislative action is necessary, there remains room for improvement.

For a refreshingly contrarian view, I recommend former Players Union chief Marvin Miller, the man who helped rip up baseball's odious Reserve Clause back in the 1970s:

"You've got a lot of players who say, 'I never used [steroids], never touched them. I don't want to be put in the same category with those who did,'" Miller said. "I understand that. What I don't understand, though, is having players come forward, like some prominent players have done, and talk about how they want the testing because they want to maintain their dignity.

"That really throws me. They think it maintains the dignity of a player to be told, on command, when to urinate into a container with witnesses? If that enhances their dignity, I don't understand the word dignity." […]

Miller remembers when the use of another drug ran unchecked through major league clubhouses in the 1970s.

"In most locker rooms, most clubhouses, amphetamines—red ones, green ones, etc., were lying out there in the open, in a bowl, as if they were jellybeans," he said. "They were not put there by the players, so of course there was no pressure to test. They were being distributed by ownership."