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Steroid scandal = publicity .....

and publicity sells tickets. Ron Rapoport of the Chicago Sun Times gets it. And more. On union bashing and the war of words in the daily papers:

[Fehr] seems to be unconcerned.

"We don't have gag rules,'' he said the other day.

Selig, meanwhile, has told the owners not to discuss steroids anymore.

There are only two things wrong with painting Fehr as the bad guy here. One is that the union is a democracy, and if the players want to scourge themselves of this evil, they are free to vote for the harshest penalties imaginable.

The second is that for all of Selig's public protestations to the contrary, I am betting that immediate public testing is the last thing he wants........

Effective or not, baseball does have a testing procedure in effect, and a few moderate voices eventually might be heard once the current hysterical din dies down. Players will be tested this season. Those who fail must accept treatment and are subject to fines and suspensions down the line.

"This is a first step,'' Angels shortstop and player representative David Eckstein said. "Let's see how it works. If the players and the union don't think it will work, we'll make an exception.''

Has baseball suffered in the revenue department? The signs are, like Mel Gibson's movie, the controversy has focused attention on the sport, and that's good for the box office:

Here's one example of what bad trouble baseball is really in: Fox will kick off its coverage April 16 with a broadcast of the Yankees-Red Sox game at 7:05 p.m. It will be the first national prime-time broadcast of a regular-season game since Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris' home-run record in 1998. Here's another: ESPN says ad sales for its regular-season games are up 15 percent over last year.

This is just a short run boost, and baseball will have to clean up its act soon. But this fellow Rapoport is interesting. Thanks to Baseball Musings for the pointer.