Sometimes, the simplest of economic ideas have a great deal of power. The MLB Players Association and their counsel, Donald Fehr, have been dragging their feet on an MLB steroid policy for some time now. In the Senate hearings yesterday, Arizona’s John McCain called Fehr out as quoted in a Yahoo! article,
“Don’t you get it that this is an issue that’s greater than the issue of collective bargaining? Don’t you understand that this is an issue of such transcendent importance that you should have acted months ago?”
(Note: John McCain, America’s self-appointed ethics czar, can be a grandstanding jerk. Still, a skewering of Fehr does have some entertainment value.)
Self-interest explains Fehr’s hesitance. He represents current players. Among these current players are many who have put of enormous, even Hall of Fame, numbers based better hitting (and pitching) through chemistry, and these players seem to have a great deal of influence on the Player’s Association stance.
In contrast, several former players (Hank Aaron, Lou Brock, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, Ryne Sandberg) came out strongly backing more stringent penalties proposed by Bud Selig. These players represent themselves and former players whose records are threatened by steroid use. Hank Aaron said
“I want to applaud the commissioner, and I also just want to make sure that whatever we do, we make sure that we clean up baseball,”
On the other side, Barry Bond’s manager, Felipe Alou, a contemporary of Aaron was quoted saying
“What is their proof?” Alou asked. “Are they testing players, too? How do you explain that? Or have they stopped testing now? We just saw him hit five in 30 at-bats. So what’s going on now? I hope that he’s judged by the real baseball people when he’s finished.”
I would call Aaron and Brock “real baseball people.” It’s not too hard to imagine how different Alou’s comments would be if he were not a manager, and specifically, the manager of one of the prime suspects.