Somebody talked

Thanks to Michael S. Schmidt, I continue to enjoy not having to read Kirk Radomski’s new book. The latest revelation:

Officials for Major League Baseball said Wednesday that in the early stages of its steroids-testing program it did not summon players to its offices to tell them they had failed drug tests.

The denial came in response to a passage in “Bases Loaded,” a new book written by Kirk Radomski, the confessed steroids dealer. Radomski wrote that a player who was one of his clients told him that in 2004 the commissioner’s office contacted various players and asked them to come to headquarters in Manhattan. The commissioner’s office, Radomski wrote, wanted to tell the players they had tested positive for steroids the previous season, when testing had been introduced on an anonymous basis, without any penalties.

The passage in question is significant because it implies that officials might have been trying to limit the number of positive tests in 2004 by warning players who had tested positive in 2003 . . .

. . . In a telephone interview Wednesday, Rob Manfred, baseball’s top drug-testing official, said that the passage in Radomski’s book was “categorically incorrect.”

I am more than prepared to believe that Radomski is flat out wrong, but in my experience, after the superfluous “quite frankly,” the insertion of “categorically” before a denial is the second biggest warning sign that a lie is coming. But even if Manfred is telling the truth, I’d have more confidence in his categorical denial if it wasn’t phrased like this:

“By no means were we involved in that process; any suggestion that we were involved is untrue,” he said.

That’s rather specific. Why not deny that players were warned of positive tests during the trial period at all? “We weren’t involved in that process?” Were your agents, employees, successors, assigns, mail room lackeys, secretaries, wives, pimps, fixers, or information dissemination designees? As Schmidt — and George Mitchell his own self — notes, at least some players were warned of positive tests back in 2004. Mitchell blames the union — and that makes sense given that the union had access to the trial-run test results — but there’s no escaping the fact that, in this one instance, the union and the league had a common interest in minimizing baseball’s steroid problem.

I’m still not buying Radomski’s book, but it’s worth noting that Radomski’s veracity and integrity were good enough for Major League Baseball when the Mitchell Report was being compiled. Because of that, I don’t know that Rob Manfred flat out calling Radomski a liar on this point is enough. I want to know whether and to what extent players who tested positive in 2003 were warned about it and by whom before testing got teeth in 2004, and in light of this allegation, I think baseball has an obligation to make some showing in this regard.

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