Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Small ball in, long ball out in 2005

Labor and management have agreed on a new steroid testing policy, reports Murray Chass of the NY Times, so don't expect anyone to hit 70 home runs this year, or even 50 for that matter.

Details of the new plan haven't been revealed yet, but it was clear the baseball players union had to cave on the issue following grand jury leaks from the Balco investigation and public pressure from baseball fandom and especially from U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Reports Murray:

The union has never previously agreed to change a provision in the middle of a labor agreement; the current agreement runs through 2006. The union decided to make this change because many of its members said something had to be done. They were concerned that all players were being tarnished with accusations of using steroids and that a level playing field no longer existed with some players using steroids.

When players were tested, anonymously, for the first time in 2003, 5 percent to 7 percent of the tests were positive, triggering testing last year.

Thus, Barry Bonds' single-season home run record will never be broken.


MLB Commissioner Bud Selig calls agreement historic. Still, it falls short of standards applied to most Olympic sports. Penalties already in place in the NFL are harsher, too.
More from SI.COM's senior baseball writer

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