'98 bottles of pee on the wall...'

The New York Times is doing great reporting on the business of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, finding lawyers -- presumeably lawyers who are Yankees fans, given the latest -- willing to put themselves in contempt of court by revealing names on the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003 as part of an anonymous (ha) program that was a precursor to the current testing scheme. Now we know that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were on the list. Stunned and amazed are we.

So the names dribble out now, every couple of months. How many are left? Sing it with me: "Ninety-eight bottles of pee on the wall, 98 bottles of pee..."


There are people -- you know, actual thinking people -- who now believe that the thing to do it just release the rest of the names and be done with it. This is wrong on about a million levels (and, at the very least, on 98). You design a program. You promise the players anonymity. You bless that promise with the sanctity of a labor-management agreement. Then the government seizes the list before it is destroyed, and then the union goes to court to try to get the list back. That is why certain lawyers have access to it -- because the case is now before a Federal appeals court in California, and the list is under seal there.

But, to solve a perceived public relations problem, the solution is to violate the pledge of anonymity to the players who have not yet been outed? Because you don't like the size of the type used in the headlines, you are going to throw away the last, tattered shred of integrity remaining in this process? Because lawyers are willing to potentially submit themselves to court sanctions, if caught, you are going to identify the overwhelming majority of players who have not been outed, players who were promised that this could never happen?

And it is only public relations. People who want the list released act as if this settles the matter and somehow allows baseball to wash its hands of its past. This is so intellectually dishonest as to be laughable. They caught about 100 players after they told them there would be testing. How many hundreds more stopped using whatever they were using when told what was coming? Nobody -- nobody -- believes that only 104 players were using -- but that is the predicate that people are proposing.

You cannot just make this go away. And based upon the reaction of the people in the seats, it isn't necessary. People get it -- they're not stupid. They have made their peace with this mess. They see it for what it was and they still love Big Papi.