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Tom Verducci on Donald Fehr

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Hugo had a great link festt yesterday, I just wanted to make note of an article up on SI.com where Tom Verducci profiles the recently retired executive director of the Players Association Donald Fehr. Verducci points out the Fehr and Bud Selig are always going to connected to the steroid era of baseball. The two of them could have shortened the era had they not enjoyed the increased popularity of the sport that came with all the home runs. 

Verducci points out that Fehr wasn't being totally honest when he says he didn't realize the problem was as large as it was.

Of course he knew what was going on. As I reported with Joe Torre in The Yankee Years, Rick Helling, a union executive board member, told Fehr as far back as 1998, and in each subsequent year, he had a huge steroid problem on his hands. By 2000, baseball sources were estimating in print that anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the players, and most of the best players, were using steroids.

He mentions something else that bothered me at the time, baseball people kept saying that steroids didn't improve performance. Some folks still parrot that dumb line, as Verducci says:

(And they were using because they ... what? Tasted good?)

And:

But then I talked to former Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti in May of 2002 about steroids, and he was the first player to publicly admit he and the game were juiced. Not only did he use steroids, Caminiti told me, but also they worked amazingly well and he had no regrets about using them because steroids were an accepted way of life in the big leagues. For his honesty, Caminiti was harshly scolded by union officials.

Guess what, steroids work, no one is stupid enough to do that stuff if it didn't work. It wasn't just the Players Association that tried to ignore the problem:

I also found this from a veteran player close to negotiations: the owners, he said, "came to us and basically said, 'Come up with something to make this [image problem] go away.' Let's face it, they like all the home runs. This is a small step forward, but it's not going to change a whole lot."

So there is a lot of blame to go around.

He also discounts Fehr's negotiating abilities:

As Fehr leaves, the minimum salary for a major-league player is 16 percent less than what it is for an NHL player, despite baseball easily trumping hockey in total revenue. Player salaries haven't kept up with revenues, meaning players are getting a smaller slice of the revenue pie than they did a decade ago.

Anyway, it is interesting piece, give it a read.