'Roids and MLB 2007
Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:28 AM
Before Punishing Giambi, Selig Wants His Help
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By JACK CURRY
Published: June 7, 2007
After Jason Giambi of the Yankees tacitly admitted last month to using steroids, Commissioner Bud Selig was placed in an awkward position. Selig wants to show that he is tough on steroid users, but punishing Giambi is problematic because if he used steroids, it occurred before Major League Baseball punished players for using performance-enhancing substances.
Commissioner Bud Selig has asked Giambi to cooperate with Senator George Mitchell’s investigation within the next two weeks.
Would Selig try to fine or suspend Giambi? What would other players think if Giambi was punished for being honest about the past? How would it look if Selig did nothing?
Selig took a calculated approach yesterday when he asked Giambi, the Yankees’ designated hitter, to cooperate, within the next two weeks, with the investigation into the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances being conducted by the former Senator George Mitchell. If Giambi agrees to speak with Mitchell, it is believed he would be the first active player to do so.
In a statement, Selig strongly hinted that any possible punishment of Giambi would be influenced by whether he cooperated with Mitchell. Selig noted that his decision about Giambi would not be completed until after Giambi had a chance to meet with Mitchell.
“It is in the best interests of baseball for everyone, including players, to cooperate with Senator Mitchell in his investigation so that Senator Mitchell can provide me with a complete, thorough report,” Selig said. “Discipline for wrongdoing is important, but it is also important to create an environment so players can feel free to honestly and completely cooperate with this important investigation.”
By asking Giambi to cooperate with Mitchell, Selig is apparently trying to appear to be a disciplinarian while also offering Giambi a way to avoid a possible punishment. If Selig announced a stern punishment yesterday, it would have in effect told players that they could be disciplined for being candid. It might have also ruined the slim chance Mitchell has of getting players to speak with him in an investigation that is now 15 months old.
Several agents have said they have advised their clients not to talk with Mitchell. Mike Myers, a teammate of Giambi’s, said he doubted Giambi would cooperate. Selig has no power to compel anyone to testify.
Arn Tellem, Giambi’s agent, said in an e-mail message that he would not comment on Selig’s statement until he could speak with Giambi and lawyers for the players union. Giambi, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, was not with the Yankees in Chicago yesterday and was unavailable to comment. He is expected to be out for several weeks.
After reviewing Selig’s statement, Michael Weiner, the general counsel for the players union, released a statement saying that Giambi would consult with his lawyer and union lawyers before responding to Selig. Weiner said it would be Giambi’s decision whether to meet with Mitchell.
Giambi created problems for himself last month by suggesting publicly that he had used steroids. In an article in USA Today, Giambi discussed the subject of steroids in baseball and the mistakes he had made.
“I was wrong for doing that stuff,” Giambi said. “What we should have done a long time ago was stand up — players, ownership, everybody — and said, ‘We made a mistake.’ ”
But Weiner, in the statement, stressed that he did not think Giambi did anything for which he could be punished.
“We do not believe that grounds exist for disciplining Jason Giambi based upon the newspaper article, anything which sprang from it, or his decision whether he will meet with Senator Mitchell,” Weiner said.
While the Yankees offered a one-sentence release saying they supported Selig, some players were annoyed by Selig’s request. Myers, a reliever and a former player representative, called the Mitchell investigation “a freight train without brakes” and wondered what Selig was trying to achieve.
“They just let Mitchell loose and have no control about what he does,” Myers said. “Selig doesn’t have any control of him. The Senate doesn’t have any control of him. He can pretty much do whatever he wants to do, and as far as Jason talking to Mitchell to determine what kind of punishment should be done, Jason didn’t do anything to be penalized for, so that is a joke in itself.”
Pitcher Mike Mussina, the Yankees’ player representative, was asked if he thought Selig’s approach would work.
“To say either help us or you’re suspended? No,” Mussina said. “But Bud thinks he can do whatever he wants, so we’ll find out.”
Johnny Damon, who is one of Giambi’s closest friends on the Yankees, seemed more confused than anything.
“I’m still trying to figure out what he’s in trouble for: freedom of speech?” Damon said. “You can always go back and get someone for something they did in the past, whether it’s stealing a pack of gum or whatever. I guess they think it’s pretty serious, what he’s saying. I’m not sure what they’re trying to get out of him.”
Before Selig’s request, it was highly unlikely Giambi would have agreed to talk with Mitchell. And, even now, that is in doubt. Even if Mitchell promised Giambi immunity from being punished, Mitchell cannot promise him immunity from being asked to testify in any ongoing or future investigations involving steroids. The potential to be called to testify is a deterrent to Giambi and any player.
After Giambi made his remarks to USA Today, he and Tellem met with three Major League Baseball lawyers May 23 to discuss his comments to the newspaper. The lawyers gave a report to Selig, who has been deliberating since then how to treat Giambi’s case.
According to an article in The San Francisco Chronicle in 2004, Giambi’s testimony to a federal grand jury investigating the Balco steroid distribution case included an admittance of steroid use. Giambi, the article said, told the grand jury that he had used steroids and human growth hormone before signing a seven-year, $120 million deal with the Yankees in December of 2001 and while with the team in 2002 and 2003. Baseball’s testing policy began in 2003, but players were not disciplined for a first offense until 2005.
If Giambi was to give similar testimony to Mitchell, it would put the information on the public record and would prove useful to Mitchell’s investigation. Because Giambi’s testimony was leaked to a newspaper, it is not a matter of public record.
Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:31 AM
GIAMBI MUST COOPERATE WITH 'ROID PROBE ... OR ELSE
By BRIAN COSTELLO
June 7, 2007 -- Bud Selig dropped this ultimatum on Jason Giambi yesterday - 'Fess up or else.
The baseball commissioner issued a statement late yesterday afternoon that he had requested Giambi to cooperate with George Mitchell's probe into steroid use in baseball within two weeks. If he doesn't, the Yankees slugger could face disciplinary action from Selig. The statement comes three weeks after Giambi's tacit admission of steroid use in an article in USA Today.
"Any admission regarding the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances, no matter how casual, must be taken seriously," Selig said. "It is in the best interests of baseball for everyone, including players, to cooperate with Senator Mitchell in his investigation so that Senator Mitchell can provide me with a complete, thorough report.
"Discipline for wrongdoing is important, but it is also important to create an environment so players can feel free to honestly and completely cooperate with this important investigation."
Giambi was not available for comment. He is on the disabled list and is not with the Yankees in Chicago. His agent, Arn Tellem, did not respond to a call seeking comment.
The Players Association issued a statement saying the decision is Giambi's, but that it would provide legal advice to the slugger.
Selig has been weighing whether to punish Giambi for telling USA Today he was "wrong for using that stuff."
He also said baseball should have apologized to fans. Giambi made the comments between games of a doubleheader in Chicago on May 16. Giambi met with representatives from Selig's office and the union a week later.
Yesterday's statement read, "Discipline will be determined after Giambi has completed activities with Senator Mitchell. Commissioner Selig will then take into account Giambi's level of cooperation with the investigation."
The union undoubtedly will fight any type of disciplinary action taken by Selig.
"We do not believe that grounds exist for disciplining Jason Giambi based upon the newspaper article, anything which sprang from it, or his decision whether he will meet with Senator Mitchell," union general counsel Michael Weiner said.
Any cooperation from Giambi would be a breakthrough for Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader. His probe has been met by resistance from players since it began in March 2006. No active players are known to have cooperated.
It is unclear whether MLB would like Giambi to speak to Mitchell only about his own use of steroids or rat on other players.
Giambi has played with many suspected steroid users from Mark McGwire in Oakland to Gary Sheffield in New York.
According to the book "Game of Shadows," Giambi got involved with BALCO at the advice of Barry Bonds and his trainer Greg Anderson while the two were on an All-Star tour of Japan. The book also states Giambi admitted to a grand jury in 2003 that he used steroids as early as 2001 and continued to use steroids and human growth hormone while with the Yankees in 2002 and 2003.
MLB would have a tough time punishing Giambi even if he repeated that admission because there was no steroid testing until 2003 and no penalties until 2005.
Mitchell had little to say yesterday.
"This matter is being handled by the Commissioner's office," he said in an e-mail.
The Yankees also were quiet.
"The Yankees support the Commissioner's decision and will have no further comment," said Howard Rubenstein, the team's public relations representative.
Giambi, 36, is in the sixth year of a seven-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees. He had seven home runs and 23 RBIs before being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
Posted 09 June 2007 - 09:25 AM
By BRIAN COSTELLO
June 9, 2007 -- Jason Giambi was wearing camouflage pants last night, but he wouldn't say if he's ready for a fight. Two days after Bud Selig delivered him an ultimatum, Giambi was tight-lipped.
The Yankees' designated hitter made a brief appearance at Yankee Stadium, arriving an hour before the Yankees' game with Pittsburgh and leaving in the bottom of the seventh inning of the 5-4, 10-inning victory. Giambi, who is on the 15-day disabled list, said he did not have an answer for Selig, who asked Giambi to speak with George Mitchell or face discipline.
Giambi said he has spoken with his agent Arn Tellem, but he would have nothing further to say until they were prepared to make a formal announcement.
"I'll just deal with what I can deal with," Giambi said, wearing a dark T-shirt and a hat pulled low on his forehead. "Like I said, I've been in contact [with Tellem]. There's really not much to talk about until then. I'll definitely let you guys know."
On Wednesday, Selig announced he requested that Giambi speak with Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader who is heading a probe into steroid use in baseball. Selig went after Giambi after the slugger was quoted in USA Today tacitly admitting steroid use. Selig has threatened some disciplinary action if Giambi refuses to talk to Mitchell.
Giambi spoke briefly with three reporters on his way to the parking lot, but cut the session off midway through a reporter's question about his reaction to Selig's statement.
"I don't want to get into this any further until I release a comment on what's going on when we talk," Giambi said. "Then I'll be more than happy to talk."
Though he was not willing to speak about his Mitchell problem, he spoke about his left-foot injury that has kept him sidelined since last week. He wore a protective boot on his left foot during his visit to the Stadium. Giambi will undergo another MRI exam next week.
"The MRI is going to be the big telling point, to see how much it's healed up since I've been in the boot," he said. "I've been in the boot basically 24 hours a day."
Posted 22 June 2007 - 12:53 PM
New York Times (registration required): "Jason Giambi of the Yankees agreed yesterday to cooperate with George J. Mitchell’s investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, apparently becoming the first active player who has consented to speak with Mitchell, the former United States Senator. Mitchell’s investigation is almost 15 months old."
Jason Will Spill Juice
New York Post: "At some point during a phone conversation on Wednesday, Bud Selig finally convinced Jason Giambi that speaking to George Mitchell about his steroid use would be a smart move."
Giambi agrees to come clean
New York Daily News: "With the commissioner of baseball threatening him and the muscle of Congress looming over the entire sport, Jason Giambi gave in yesterday and said he will confess his steroid sins to former Sen. George Mitchell."
Giambi, Mitchell will meet
Newsday: "Jason Giambi probably had the law on his side. But he lacked the desire to engage in an imbroglio with Major League Baseball, so the Yankees' designated hitter officially capitulated yesterday, agreeing to become the first known active player to speak with baseball steroids investigator George Mitchell."
Giambi will talk steroids with Mitchell
Newark Star-Ledger (registration required): "Jason Giambi agreed yesterday to become the first active player known to cooperate with former Senator George Mitchell's investigation into steroid use in baseball. Just don't expect him to unveil too many secrets. "
Giambi agrees to meeting with Mitchell, admits to steroid use
Journal News: "Jason Giambi agreed yesterday to meet with steroids investigator George Mitchell and admitted publicly for the first time to using steroids."
At Last, Steroid Semantics Discarded
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro: "Right there, in the 58th word of that 285-word statement, Giambi uses the word 'steroids.' Right there, a few months shy of four years since he testified before the BALCO grand jury, after all the hints and hems and haws, all the false starts, all the reluctant foot shuffling, Giambi identifies the 8,000-pound elephant in the room."
Giambi finds strength steroids never supplied
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica: "It took all this to get one active baseball player to agree to sit down with former Sen. George Mitchell and talk about steroids. Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, had to threaten Jason Giambi with a long suspension if he didn't talk, and Mitchell probably had to threaten to take the whole sport back to Congress if he didn't stop getting stonewalled by baseball players and their association."
Giambi will talk, but probably say little
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell: "After weeks of heated legal haggling and veiled threats of suspension, New York Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi on Thursday became the first known major-league player to agree to cooperate with Mitchell's steroids investigation. But what exactly has this bargaining brought Commissioner Bud Selig's investigation?"
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