The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 9-2 vote Wednesday that federal agents violated the players’ protections against unreasonable searches and seizures when it confiscated a list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
This from the Associated Press. In a tangentially related story, scientists confirmed that the Earth does indeed orbit around the Sun, and not the other way around. Galileo, still smarting from his waterboarding at the hands of his inquisitors, was unavailable for comment, but thought to be at least marginally self satisfied.
Duh! I suspect it’s not much consolation to the players who have been torpedoed by this business. And to think it only took five years for the legal system to determine what we all knew, uh, five years ago.
The court pointed out that the investigators only had a warrant for 10 drug test results as part of the BALCO investigation into Barry Bonds and others, the court said -- not the 104 results it seized.
“This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote, adding that the players’ union had good reason to want to keep the list secret. “Some players appear to have already suffered this very harm as a result of the government’s seizure.”
The list of the already leaked includes David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa. The AP report noted that Major League Baseball players agreed in 2003 to survey drug testing without penalties to determine the extent of steroid use in the sport. There were 104 positive tests, though the players’ association has said some could be multiple failures from the same player and others might not have held up on appeal.
I sorta wonder if this overdue ruling of the obvious will have any impact on that odd group of folks who never got the message from their mothers about two wrongs not making a right. Or even 104 wrongs.
Apparently not, since both Chipper Jones and Ozzie Guillen, two of the game’s intellectual giants, are still plugging away for more reputations to be sullied.
“A lot of people’s credibility and a lot of people’s dignity have been damaged in this,” Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones told the AP. “It’s not fair to the clean players. It’s not fair to the players who have been leaked. Get ‘em all out there so we can start the healing process. It’s not going to stop until they’re all out there.”
And this pearl from Ozzie: “Whoever’s got the list, get them out of there, make us suffer for couple days and move on,” he said. “Just get the thing out. Clear the thing and move on. Move on and this game is going to be better.”
Thankfully, that kind of knee-jerk muddle-headed reaction isn’t unanimous. The AP also quoted Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals’ player representative, who has a better idea, one rooted in questions of fairness and justice rather than expedience. “Leak the names that leaked the names,” he said. “People are obviously breaking the law acquiring those names, and it’s not the agreement the federal government had with Major League Baseball. Those names were court-sealed. For crying out loud, you can’t release them, period.”
For a sport that likes to pride itself in playing by the rules, that would seem a good place to start.