Seems like a positive step in the right direction, eh? Well, in my book, it is the next joke in the longest running comedy since Mel Brooks' "The Producers".
Of the seven players "randomly selected to be tested", one is the Union's player representative, and is one of the most outspoken anti-steroid players in the game. That would be reliever Ray King.
Three more of the "Magnificant Seven" are youngsters Carmen Cali, Adam Wainwright and Evan Rust. The latter two had already been sent down and the third spent most of 2004 in the minors, also. The fact that there was already a testing program in the minor leagues makes these three mildly interesting, but awfully low-risk selections. Unless the three took stupid pills in the off-season, that is.
Two more of the tested group are journeymen. I am sure that reliever Mike Myers and catcher Cody McKay are nice men and decent ballplayers. But, they are not exactly thought of as important cogs on the gears of the Cardinals machine.
The last selection of the seven is a bit interesting; one that fits the mold, but then again, doesn't exactly. That is none other than outfielder and former pitcher Rick Ankiel.
So, what do we have here? Not a single Cardinals starter in the field, nor even an important role player was singled out. Not one of the starting pitchers, nor the closer was asked to pee in the cup.
Even if every one of the seven tested players was found to be dirty and faced the mandatory suspension as a result, how much would it really matter? (Let me make it crystal clear that I am not assuming that any of these men would actually test positive for anything.)
It sort of reminds me of an episode of the original "Star Trek". In a scenario that was repeated time and time again, Captain Kirk would assign members of the crew as the landing party to go down to check out the hostile, unknown planet. He'd look around and call out Scotty, Sulu, Spock and poor Ensign Smith. It was more than obvious which one of the four was being set up to encounter doom on the enemy soil.
After all, we all knew Scotty, Sulu and Spock were going to be back next week. They were the franchise, baby. But, there's always a seemingly-endless supply of Ensign Smiths to sacrifice if needed. So, what if we lose a few as long as the important guys remain safe and sound and the gravy train keeps rolling down the tracks?
If this new steroids policy is the way MLB is planning to build credibility and confidence in their program, they are performing about as well as Mark McGwire did in his Congressional hearing actions of two weeks ago.
Just as Mac was crucified by his refusal to talk about the past, whether right or wrong, MLB's actions make it clear that their new policy is as big of a sham as the old, basically non-existent one.
Until the big boys in today's game are asked to step up and prove their innocence, the message being sent is that the new, tougher steroid policy is there to simply provide a smokescreen. Protect the stars and give them time to get cleaned up, if they need it.
How can we come to any other conclusion?
Can't you see Bud Selig and his cronies cowering in a corner confronted by Jack Nicholson's character in the 1992 film, "A Few Good Men", Marine Colonel Nathan R. Jessep?
Jessep: "You want answers?"
Selig: "I think I'm entitled."
Jessep: "You want answers?"
Selig: "I want the truth!"
Jessep: "You can't handle the truth!"
More than ever these days, MLB needs a few good men who can tell the truth and some leaders who can handle it. Instead, we get seven hapless Ensign Smiths sent down with the expectation they can secure the increasingly hostile planet.
I can hardly wait to see what next week's episode brings.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.