Friday, June 15, 2007

Bud Selig is a Liar: Why I love Ted Leonsis and Mark Cuban

A little background for those of you who don't know me is in order. I am definitely in the statistically small group of people who knew who Mark Cuban was before he was a billionaire or knew who Ted Leonsis was before he was en route to becoming a billionaire (he's not there yet, but it's on his list of things to do) and owned all or parts of the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA) and Washington Mystics (WNBA). Both Mark and Ted were very good to me going back some 10+ years now. One thing I love in my recent contact with these guys is that fame and success did not seem to change the overall makeup and drive of these two men.

I am grateful to both of them because at a time when I had a little bit of fire in my belly they took the spark and poured some gasoline on it and for me personally that's an extraordinary lovely thing.

Lying goes on all around us. We're lied to constantly. Interestingly as Ted and Mark both own sports franchises… Well think about this, as of a year ago, Mark had been fined $1.6 million dollars (that's probably more money than I have ever had at once)by the NBA. Why? He was fined for what he said, which was, an honest portrayal of how he felt. He was fined $1.6 million dollars for being honest. The league seems to believe that honesty is NOT the best policy for the NBA. I actually don't have strong feelings on David Stern or the NBA, certainly not in the way Cuban or Leonsis probably would.

I don't really know the inner workings of the NBA enough to comment on the inner workings of it or well enough to comment on whether David Stern is a person who acts with both the best interests of the NBA and integrity. It seems to me like he does, but I don't know well enough.

But I know enough about baseball, it's inner workings, psychology, values, etc., to know the following: Bud Selig is a liar. The owners and the management of the San Francisco Giants are…liars. Bud Selig is lying about Steroids. Yes, I said lying about it. And if he wishes to take me to court for slander, fine. All Selig can hope for is that by the time all of the "what did he know and when did he know it" comes out, that he'll be gone. He's playing the game of "musical chairs" and basically what Bud is probably hoping for is that by the time the music stops he's not around even LOOKING for a chair anymore.

This game works this way. The American public is in denial about how much we really like the results of steroids (I am not in denial about this at all, but sometimes I wish I still was!). The truth is, especially given the costs of attending this stuff, we want our professional athletes to be SUPER human. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa AND Barry Bonds delivered. We the fans like the results, the owners liked the results, and Bud Selig liked the results. You could say that there was so much covering of eyes, ears and mouths by Selig and ownership (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil), BUT there was also so much steroid usage that there's no way they got through this period without seeing or at least hearing about someone getting a needle jabbed in their butt. I'm not talking about last year or the year before either. I'm talking 1998-2002 when it was going on, everyone more or less knew it and then looked the other way.

Human nature is that when the stakes are high, people will cheat. This is why Jason Giambi cheated. And why, not only after he got caught (via leaked testimony – and the guy who leaked it is going to JAIL – I'm thrilled about that, probably the biggest smile of the week for me!!!) for steroids, he got caught for amphetamines (greenies) just last year. But Giambi came out with the truth:

I was wrong for doing that stuff. What we should have done a long time ago was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and said: `We made a mistake.' We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. ... Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it."

Although Giambi is a confirmed cheater, he is, in my opinion, absolutely correct about this. Here's how Selig is handling this: he's pressuring Giambi to cooperate with the steroids investigation: name some names or I will suspend you (more or less).

If Hank Aaron wants to be upset with Barry Bonds, I don't have any issue with that at all. But Bud Selig? Please. You knew Bud, and you looked the other way and did nothing. But then you're the kind of guy who would say, "Yeah, I'm an owner, but just go ahead and make me the commissioner!" We already knew right there this is a man lacking in integrity. But it made a lot of people a lot of money and produced a product people wanted to pay for. Everyone was really happy about this: the owners (they made tons of money on this), the players (they made tons of money – and much more with performance enhancements) and the fans, who couldn't eat it up fast enough.

But Bud is a lying hypocrite, so are the owners, and really so are most of the fans. Giambi did tell the truth in that quote above, that's exactly how it is. But once again, your kids are subtley getting the message: honesty isn't the best policy and cheating works – whether you're a player, the owner or the commissioner. It's a bad message to send. Giambi told the truth and the negative reinforcing feedback is, "Whoever told you honesty was the best policy, was lying!"

I love that there are guys like Cuban and Leonsis out there: again, they aren't perfect, but they aren't motivated to cheat and lie due to the stakes being high. They aren't perfect, but in a world massively lacking it at times, these two gentleman have some integrity, and that's something I value very much.

As for steroids, I think this ultimately will hit the NFL hardest of all. We haven't anywhere near begun to hear the last of it. Sorry Mr. Goodell.

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