A federal appeals court in California yesterday reached a decision about baseball that had implications regarding the privacy rights of every American—another example of sports and society intertwining. Phillies union rep Jimmy Rollins weighed in on the situation today.
The case demonstrated the conflict between civil liberties and the effort to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drugs. Drug testing for one’s employer is an infringement on personal privacy, of course, though one many of us are willing to endure. In this particular case, the court ruled that U.S. Attorneys had gone too far in sezing a list of 104 players who had failed an ostensibly anonymous drug test in 2003.
Most of you know this background, but quickly: The tests were meant to gauge how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs; because more than five percent tested positive, a full testing program was instituted the following season.
The prosecutors were investigating whether 10 players, including Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, had testified accurately in a case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative. During a 2004 raid of the company that oversaw drug tests for those players, the prosecutors stumbled across the 2003 list, and seized it.
That’s how A-Rod, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa were outed as PED users of one kind or another.
As a journalist and citizen, I’ve been of two minds on this: I like when the truth comes out, but these players were obviously violated. When the court ruled that the prosecutors were wrong to seize the list, they reached a decision that could limit the government’s ability to get its hands on your medical information. At the risk of getting all Ron Paul on ya, that strikes me as a good thing.
Here’s some of what Rollins had to say: “The leaks didn’t surprise me. If a President’s cabinet leaks to the media, anything will come out this day in age. But to my eyes, this was an easy case. How do you rule any other way? We took the test with the assumption it was protected.”
Rollins also said that he did not see a conflict between cleaning up the sport and maintaining personal privacy.
“No, they don’t have to be in conflict,” he said. “You just have to respect the way things are done. In 2003, the rules were different and it was meant to be kept private. Now, it’s okay to name players who test positive, because the rules have changed.”
Back to on-field matters, Brett Myers is expected to make his next appearance for Reading on Saturday.
Pedro Martinez starts tomorrow at the Bank, and Charlie Manuel said this afternoon that the next few Pedro starts will be key in determining what the guy can contribute. “We’ll get a real good read on him in a couple more starts,’ Manuel said. “That’s when he’ll get stretched out. The next two starts will really determine where we can take him in the game, and where he can take us.
In talking with Ruben Amaro yesterday and his assistant GM Scott Proefrock today, I’m not getting the feeling that the Phils are likely to make a trade before the Sept. 1 postseason eligibility deadline.
But one also has to keep in mind with the Phils that they are always on the hunt for ways to tweak the club—that’s the Pat Gillick influence—so if something appealing comes up five seconds from now, the team could jump on it. But they don’t see any glaring positions of need. They expect to get Greg Dobbs back, and the biggest question mark (you get one guess, rhymes with Lad Bridge) is a problem they’re more likely address internally, if they address it.
Charlie on J.A. Happ: "I think that Happ should definitely be Rookie of the Year." Agreed.