Jeter, Union at odds over HGH test comments

LaTroy Hawkins Day
Crosstown fugliness

Earlier today, I offhandedly mentioned Derek Jeter‘s weekend comments about blood tests in baseball, and frequent commenter Geno took me to task for dismissing something newsworthy. So let me fix that.

Over the weekend, Derek Jeter opined on Bloomberg Radio that blood tests for HGH would not be intrusive and openly advocated for these tests. “You can test for whatever you want to test for,” he said. “We get pricked by needles anyway in spring training, so we have a lot of blood work to begin with.”

On Monday, he drew flak from the Players’ Union over these comments. Jeter had to explain his position while Union leaders were a bit more outspoken about it:

“(The problem) has gotten so much attention now, I think it would probably silence a lot of people that were critical of guys … so I wouldn’t mind it,” Jeter said. “I can only comment on myself; I don’t know about other people. I don’t like needles very much, but I wouldn’t mind it.”

“I’m not saying I would ever be in favor of it, but if we did do it, that would be the only way the general public would finally believe that baseball is completely clean,” said Mike Mussina, the Yankees’ players union representative. “But I don’t know if it will ever come to that.”

Jason Giambi, who was at the center of the BALCO scandal, said: “I’m up for whatever they want to do. I don’t really care.”

“This has to be a union decision, not an individual one,” he added.

And that’s the problem. That’s the problem with this whole Mitchell Report and the flap over Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee.

The Mitchell Report was intended to produce change in Major League Baseball’s supposed drug culture. It was supposed to draw attention the shortcomings of its drug testing policies and the institutions and institutional attitudes in place that prevented and still prevent the sport from developing top-notch testing procedures. When Union members start speaking out and the Union forces them back into line, it’s clear that the Report utterly failed.

Instead, we get a Congressional circus with no real denouement or any sense of resolution. A hearing supposedly about drug use in baseball turned into a “he said, he said” fight.

While the Union will always defend itself, Jeter should be praised for taking a stand. Maybe his comments were off-the-cuff, and had he thought about it, he wouldn’t have broken ranks with the MLBPA. But he has, and baseball needs more players to step forward if the drug policy and public perception of the game is to change for the better.

LaTroy Hawkins Day
Crosstown fugliness
  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    THIS is where Congress is needed. MAKE baseball test EVERYONE Olympic-style, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

    • Joseph P.

      I wouldn’t say that Congress is needed, per se. However, it is one area where they could do something useful. Better than the goddamn hearings, at least.

  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    My point was, THIS is the point where they should be stepping in. Stopping the drug-use from here forward. NOT in the “who-did-what-back-in-the-day” manner in which they’ve been involved so far.

  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    Does the government have the authority to MAKE MLB test Olympic-style, whether they WANT to or not?

    • Count Zero

      No — legally, they can’t do anything to mandate drug testing. But they can use the Anti-Trust Exemption as leverage to get what they want.

  • Mike R.

    This is precisely why Jeter gives vague, cliche filled answers. Anytime he gives an opinion it becomes news.

  • CaptainCargo

    Takes a lot of balls to break from the herd and give an opinion that might not go down well with others sometimes. My hat is off to Jetes.

  • Bo

    Why would Congress be needed? Does COngress test automobile workers? Do they get involved with Microsofts employees? Do they test Teamsters?

    Why should they get involved with a union??

  • iYankees

    Jeter didn’t even say much, really. Yes, he sort of took a stance, but “sort of” taking a stance doesn’t necessarily mean much. Mike Mussina, a players union representative, actually stole the show on this one (at least, that’s what I think).

  • iYankees

    I feel like that argument isn’t valid. The MLB is essentially a baseball monopoly, so the government could choose to become involved if their hand is forced. Also, Mike Mussina struck me when he used the “why is baseball different than other corporations out there,” when he was talking about using blood for drug tests (and not urine). Context is being taken out of the equation. Baseball is “American’s great pastime” so it’s obviously held in higher regard, making it very different from other businesses, jobs, etc. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that, this is the reality of the situation.

  • dan

    BTW guys, even the Olympic testing isn’t foolproof. Some people have naturally inflated levels of testosterone and flunk the test when they’re clean. It’s probably better than the current non-testing in baseball, but I’d hate to ruin or tarnish someone’s career if they’re not cheating. We don’t remember or care much for track stars who flunk drug tests, we forget most of them soon after… But I bet you everyone here can name AT LEAST 5 steroid users in baseball.

  • Curramba

    I think this is one of those cases specially with all Congresational circus on PEDs where congress should force the Union and MLB to institute a blood test for PEDS and like the Olympics keep blood samples available for testing in later years.

  • bomdabronx

    the only people whose toes Jeter was stepping on with those comments are the ones that have somthing to hide about hgh usage in baseball. No matter how accurate the test may or not be, he’s right, taking a little blood isn’t anything unusual for athletes that are used to being tested for all kinds of unauthorized substances.