Selig probably thought he was out of the woods, that the whole steroid era was in the books and that MLB could move on — all that was left to worry about was how to get a good player on the Pittsburgh Pirates for once (sorry Andrew McCutcheon).
But it’s become clear MLB is far from closing the books on that regretful chapter. In fact, that chapter has just started, much to the detriment of fans.
The Bonds trial is going to recall the years of negligence, when league officials, owners and players alike brushed aside the rampant steroid use to “save the game.”
Because it’s opening Pandora’s box, the trial dampers what is usually an optimistic time for baseball fans. Skeptical fans once again ask themselves if the steroid problem has been eradicated and whether Selig is a competent commissioner. They’ll wonder whether league officials are still brushing aside major problems. What are they keeping from the public?
The league seems to have forgotten the fans are the biggest stakeholders.
While the prosecution is using evidence like Bonds’ growing head size and shrinking testicles, the defense continues to ride the old explanation numerous baseball players used: They didn’t know.
The fact of the matter is the public isn’t going to buy that excuse anymore. Fans deserve better than what they’re hearing right now.
During Bonds’ trial, baseball fans might finally learn about the effects of steroids on Bonds’ personality and will immediately wonder if all steroid users become this way. Or worse, are all revered athletes like this?
This is the line of questioning Selig does not want fans to follow.
He’d rather this whole trial go away, no doubt. He’d rather the fans focus on Opening Day this Thursday.
But one of baseball’s most infamous stars is on trial. The all-time leader in home runs faces jail time, and his biggest personal test. The public eye is now fixated, once again, on Barry Bonds.
Making it even worse, the Giambi brothers will also be testifying at the Bonds trial. Although Jeremy was never a supreme player, Jason’s steroid-infused success made him one of the best hitters in the MLB.
Giambi’s testimony, expected to incriminate Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson, is magnified even more because he still plays for the Colorado Rockies. The questions might follow him during postgame interviews, and the likely distraction could hound him, the Rockies and the MLB until Bonds receives a verdict.
But the biggest problem is that, in the midst of court hearings and heated debate regarding MLB’s legacy, fans have been left out of the national conversation.
Ultimately, fans have a right to transparency, and the Bonds trial should only increase the clamoring among them to know even more about an era MLB is trying desperately to forget.
Eventually, the Bonds trial will end and MLB can go back to pretending the steroid era is over. But while it drags on, Selig must do damage control. He has to come out and proclaim the culture of baseball has changed — that the post-Mitchell report MLB is clean.
Bonds will go away soon enough, but while he’s in the spotlight, those dark days of baseball are, too. And it hurts nobody more than those who fill the seats.
Cyrus Behzadi is a freshman majoring in communication. His column, “The Extra Point,” runs Wednesdays.