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.