So Major League Baseball is about to suspend some of its biggest stars based on the statements provided by convicted felons, disgraced former athletes and underworld figures. "Sources" who are giving up their information under the threat of criminal charges being filed against them and who have a bone to pick with the stars based on lack of payment for debts owed. I bet you think I'm talking about what ESPN claims will be the 100-game suspensions of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun coming up over the All Star Break next week. Actually, I was referring to Kennesaw Mountain Landis handing down his lifetime suspensions for 8 members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox for throwing games in the World Series.
Landis handed down the suspensions immediately after a Chicago jury acquitted the eight "Black Sox" on conspiracy charges--basing his decision on claims of the gangsters and thugs who turned State's Witness against the players because they didn't "follow the plan"--and cost some even nastier people a whole lot of money. Claims that a jury of the players' peers decided were not credible enough to warrant a conviction.
I could have also been talking about Bart Giamati's lifetime ban on Pete Rose in 1989. The Dowd Report on Charlie Hustle's alleged gambling on baseball was based almost entirely on the records of illegal bookies and bet runners--supplemented with phone records from the Cincinnati clubhouse. However, Rose's case is a bit different, as he voluntarily accepted the lifetime ban--so he could (at the time) deny betting on baseball and betting specifically on the Reds.
And now Bud Selig is going to exercise the power given to him by the owners to act as the Judge, the Jury and the Executioner for a group of players who have never tested positive (and had the test upheld) for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Instead, Bud's "evidence" will be the claims of an alleged steroids dealer who is facing a lawsuit from MLB and criminal drug charges if he doesn't "cooperate"--and his handwritten records of sales to players. Records that are so detailed that they include a stray piece of paper with "Braun 10K" written on it.
All I can say is that Bud had better be 100% sure that his "evidence" is 100% accurate. Because times have changed since Judge Landis threw the Black Sox out of the game for good. We are a much more litigious society now--and the players now have a powerful union that will back their stars, no matter what the situation is. And you can bet your bottom dollar, Pete Rose, that any suspension now--without a positive test--will be challenged to the highest levels of the judicial system--before anyone misses a game or a million dollar paycheck.
So Bud had better be ready to put his "star witnesses" and his "rock solid evidence" on the stand before a jury of people (who probably all agree that letting the All Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series is the stupidest thing in sports) to decide what is and isn't credible.