- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

Bud Selig is threatening to pull his head out of a game program and check into the physical rebirth of Barry Bonds, if only to prove he is the commissioner of baseball.

His urge to do something, anything, following the stunning revelations of two tell-all tomes on Bonds is predictable. So is the clamoring intended to push Selig in that direction.

All this is so much posturing, however. Bonds did not hit all those home runs in violation of baseball laws. He was in violation of the game’s competitive spirit. And even that is subject to interpretation.

The home run binge of the ‘90s was synthetically fueled, and Bonds was late in his response to it. He joined the musclebound crowd after the 1998 season, long after Jose Canseco introduced Rafael Palmeiro to the wonder drugs while they were teammates in Arlington, Texas, in 1992.

The problem before Selig is that an indictment of Bonds also is an indictment of the commissioner.

As the leading caretaker of the game, Selig was in a position to know that the home run surge was too good to be true. Yet he and the baseball union leaders held their silence, if only because it was financially beneficially to both sides.

No wonder Selig is taking his time with Bonds. No wonder he wants to read every word in each book. He probably is a slow reader, too. He knows the scandal washes up to his door.

Bonds is Selig’s kryptonite.

Selig’s tenure as commissioner now comes with a variation of the Watergate question: What did he not want to know, and when did he pretend not to know it?

If there is to be an investigation, it should be one that exposes the leadership’s convenient neglect that allowed the steroid scandal to flourish.

We already know the deal with Bonds. Or we know as much as we care to know.

And we know the deal with so many others.

What we do not know was the thinking in the commissioner’s office and the baseball union headquarters at the time of the home run spike. If Bonds and everyone else knew what was happening on the field, how come the information did not penetrate the offices of Selig and Donald Fehr?

It was no secret to hundreds of players.

Are we to believe that hundreds of human beings never allowed the secret to slip past the clubhouse door?

If so, theirs was the best-kept secret ever, which is laughable.

Fay Vincent, a former commissioner of baseball, is imploring Selig to look hard into the background of Bonds, as if a greater good somehow can be wrested from further revelations.

Bonds already has damaged his reputation and stature in the game, the degree of which is unknown. He was a certain Hall of Fame inductee before resorting to the juice. Now his enshrinement is the subject of debate and could end up cutting a lot of different ways.

Yet dwelling on Bonds, as understandable as it is, is not going to be enlightening, not as long as he maintains the myth of flaxseed oil.

Besides, Bonds is not responsible for the welfare of the game.

That was the responsibility of Selig and the players’ union, and each side failed miserably in that regard.

If there is to be an investigation, that is the one to undertake.

Selig, Fehr and all their minions permitted the steroid scourge to reach a tipping point that undermined the integrity of the game and played havoc with the numbers the game holds so dear.

In this context, Bonds is a small fry.

His descent has been documented in numbing detail.

What remains unknown was the see-no-evil propensity of the game’s leaders at the time.

Was their blind spot to the steroid scandal an act of complicity or an indication of incompetence?

That is the leading question before Selig and baseball.

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