Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In case you missed the congressional hearings on steroids in Major League Baseball three years ago, round two got underway on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
The players were not on display this time, that will come later (in the case of Roger Clemens, that's a maybe). Instead, on Tuesday we received riveting testimony from not only former Senator George Mitchell, of THE Mitchell Report, but also the two men that turned blind eyes towards the growing problem over a decade ago: MLB commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr.
Nothing much has changed in three years. The overall theme of these hearings is still that steroids are bad for America's youth. In other news, Britney Spears may not be the best mother.
The hearings started with a bang, as Chairman Henry Waxman and ranking minority member Tom Davis said that they were asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Miguel Tejada lied to them with regards to the Rafael Palmeiro steroids case.
Palmeiro, of course, vehemently denied steroid use to Congress in March 2005, but was suspended by baseball later that year after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. At the time, Palmeiro claimed the positive test may have resulted from a B-12 injection he got from Tejada, his teammate in Baltimore at the time.
Chairman Henry Waxman is leading this latest round of the congressional hearings on steroids.
Tejada, who was named in the Mitchell Report as having done some sort of performance enhancing drug, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he never took steroids, nor did he know of anyone taking them.
Even though he was not under oath, Tejada was warned at the time that he could be criminally prosecuted if he lied, which apparently he did.
For some reason, though, there was not enough evidence for a perjury charge against Palmeiro, who openly waved his finger at the committee, stating in no uncertain terms that he did not do steroids.
Just my opinion here, but I am guessing nothing comes from a Tejada investigation. If they did not have enough to go after Palmeiro, how can they go after Tejada? A public flogging is probably all that will come of this.
By the way, nice job by new Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade. Maybe you should have waited until after the Mitchell Report came out before you mortgaged your future by trading for Tejada.
One of the few items I found interesting came when Massachusetts representative John F. Tierney stated that the number of therapeutic exemptions for amphetamine-like substances to treat attention-deficit disorder allowed by Major League baseball rose from 28 in 2006 to more than 100 in 2007.
Selig stated that is one area that needs to be examined.
In case anyone is wondering, the rate of players using drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall under the exemption last season was eight times the rate of adults using these drugs in the general population.
So yes, maybe Selig should look into that.
Selig and Fehr bore the brunt of the committee's wrath, and rightfully so. Indiana congressman Mark Souder flat-out said, "The leadership part is missing." They both accepted responsibility, as they did in 2005, but Fehr admitted that he did not realize how big of a problem steroids actually were.
Most people agree that human growth hormone is the new drug of choice to enhance performance. Selig and Fehr both claim there is no viable or scientific way to test for it, though.
On the issue of storing blood tests for future testing, both Fehr and Selig said they doubted the accuracy of tests on stored blood. Selig, though, sounded like he would be in favor of it if that was a viable option, while Fehr, to nobody's surprise, was adamantly against it.
"I'm not aware of any test, or any practice, that says you can store and test at a later time," Fehr said. "And it troubles me to do that."
The credibility of trainer Brian McNamee also came into question. Mitchell defended him saying he had no reason to believe that he would lie. Plus, Mitchell reiterated that Andy Pettitte backed up McNamee's claims.
I guess that little sexual assault case that McNamee lied to police about in Florida in 2001 was just an aberration. He probably really is a stand-up guy.
Speaking of Clemens, he apparently will give a sworn deposition and agree to turn over the tape of an interview with McNamee without having to be subpoenaed.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Clemens was having second thoughts about testifying under oath. But it looks like he will be deposed before he appears before Congress along with Chuck Knoblauch, McNamee, Kirk Radomsky and maybe Andy Pettitte on February 13.
I have to admit I was kind of leaning his way after watching the 60 Minutes interview. But after watching that charade of a press conference the next day, listening to that taped phone call, and now all the hemming and hawing over whether or not he will testify under oath, I have to believe my first thoughts on all this: Clemens is guilty.
Thankfully, we are only about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting.