Players union fights for right to drive bus off cliff

June 22nd, 2006 → 4:54 pm @ // No Comments

In an article in today’s Globe, Paxton Crawford explains why he doesn’t want to discuss his first-person account, printed in ESPN The Magazine, detailing steroid, HGH, and speed use while playing with the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001. (The article is available online, but only if you’re a subscriber to ESPN Insider.) “I thought it was a one-time story deal, bro,” Crawford tells the Globe‘s Gordon Edes. “If any other reporter called, I was not interested.”

Paxton’s use of the word “deal” is intriguing. Was he saying that he got paid for the ESPN piece?* Perhaps, and as far as journalistic ethics goes, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that: the subject of first-person “as told to’s” are not infrequently paid for their efforts. Or maybe, after a taste of the limelight, he wanted the world’s attention focused back on him, even if it was only for a moment and even if it was because he was telling the world he was a cheat.

There’s powerful incentive for both current and past major leaguers to stay silent about what they’ve seen or know; breaking omerta results in a lifetime banishment from the only fraternity many of them have ever known. (Off the top of my head, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, and Jeremy Giambi are the only players or former players who’ve publicly admitted knowingly using steroids without being caught.) But Crawford’s story raises the specter of any number of fringe former major leaguers deciding they have nothing to lose (and perhaps some spending cash to gain) by coming clean.

There’s a fear within baseball that these trickling revelations will start a witchhunt, and indeed, there’s a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude that’s begun to attach itself to anyone who’s had a breakout year or one or two seasons that seem statistically aberrant. But the only reason anyone’s interested in Paxton Crawford’s story is that pretty much everyone–fans, the media, the feds, Congress–knows the current testing program, while better than nothing, is embarrassingly porous. If there’s only the slimmest of chances juicers will be caught, the thinking goes, perhaps the fear of a future unmasking at the hands of some dude who spent a day in the bigs will keep folks from shooting up the latest designer steroid. One obvious way to deal with this would be for MLB and the players union to actually implement a real testing program–one that can’t be beaten by anyone who knows how to read.

Right now, that doesn’t seem likely, mainly because the power-drunk players union refuses to allow blood testing (or actual random testing, or storing of samples) because any of those steps would be an “invasion of privacy.” That’s a load of crap. Playing professional baseball is not a right afforded to citizens under the Constitution; it’s a privilege. Workplaces implement all sorts of policies–regarding drug testing or dress codes or proper language or decorum–that aren’t (and can’t be) mandated by the government. Unless the players union takes off its blinders and starts to see the big picture, a lot of its members are going to find themselves in a world of hurt.

* EDIT: Amy K. Nelson, a veteran reporter for ESPN and the writer who worked with Paxton on the story in ESPN The Magazine, wrote to say Paxton was not paid for sharing his story. I did not contact Nelson prior to posting this item. Even though I didn’t see anything wrong with the possibility of someone being paid to collaborate on an “as told to” story, I should have made an effort to contact Nelson and ESPN.

Post Categories: Amy K. Nelson & Baseball & Daisuke Matsuzaka & ESPN The Magazine & Murray Chass & Paxton Crawford & Players Union & Red Sox & Sports Reporters & Steroids

6 Comments → “Players union fights for right to drive bus off cliff”

  1. Mister Weebles

    18 years ago

    Nothing wrong with getting paid for your story.

    Hell, I’ll tell you my entire life story for fifty seven bucks and a tasty submarine sandwich.

    Your in Christ,

    Mister Weebles


  2. behindthepen

    18 years ago

    Seth … from your previous post … “I want to make clear that I never heard a single player admit or acknowledge using, I never saw anyone use, I never saw the presence of steroids, and I never heard any member of the Red Sox management or ownership talk about knowledge of a player on the team using” … you know, you wrote that, but that’s pretty much what 90% of the players and managers say too. None of them, from Schilling to Canseco, have much credibility, and neither does the media on this matter. If they wanted it gone, then baseball would put an end to it. But given how pervasive it was, I think we just have to believe they’re more afraid of getting someone in trouble than cleaning up the game. THis is going to go on for a long, long time.

    BTP – I’m obviously in a different position from players, management, etc. But I agree with your larger point: there’s shared responsibility. I’ve written before about how the media should have been asking questions back in 96 and 98 and 99 and 01. Right now, though, the players union is uniquely positioned to block more stringent measures — measures which a lot of owners and management are in favor of — with the treat of a labor stoppage. There’s a difference between turning a blind eye and willfully trying to stand in the way of reform once there’s been public acknowledgment of the problem.
    – Seth


  3. Michael Manning

    18 years ago

    As a Brighton guy who somehow ended up living in the South, let me be the first to say that while HGH, Deca and Double Deca are undoubtedly all over the game, Paxton Crawford was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. And what’s more, according to reports, he now works on his “family farm.”

    Which leads me to believe that he was born and raised on a farm in Arkansas.

    I urge everyone to acknowledge this fact, let it sink in and read the ESPN article again.

    Then vow not to bring up this boob, his story about the clubhouse or his stone-washed jeans to Tek or Wakefield again this season.

    We need to keep winning games.

  4. […] I’m on the record as calling the Players Association “full of crap,” “moronic,” and “power-hungry,” so I don’t think my feelings about Gene Orza and crew are all that opaque. But here is another instance where Orza et al were egregiously wrong; unfortunately, many of the players are so convinced everyone else is out to screw them it’s unlikely anything will ever change…at least for another couple of decades, when retired players start growing tumors out of their eyeballs and guys on the field wonder if the fight against effective drug testing was really worth it. […]

  5. […] That’s all for now. I’ve written plenty about steroids in the past, including last August, when I wondered why no one was wondering about Roger, and way back in October ‘06, when I mocked the press’s surprise that Clemens had been fingered in he Grimsley affidavit. I also tagged Jason Giambi a gutless punk, ripped into the Players Union for defending the players’ right to destroy their livers, lamented the fact that Jose Canseco seemed to be the only honest guy around, and talked about how Bill James compared steroids to going through a divorce. (Sort of, anyway.) […]

  6. […] In honor of the ever-growing PED scandal: Bill James’s stance on steroids, the possibility of Jose Canseco being a great prophet, and the sheer lunacy of the MLB Players Association stance on drug testing. […]


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