Barack Obama's next role -- umpire?
A few things we know about President Obama:
1) He's shown no hesitancy in getting involved in various parts of the economy -- banks, insurance, cars, etc.
2) The beer summit with Prof. Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley shows that he also wants to "fix" other areas of society.
3) He's a big sports fan -- who especially loves the Chicago White Sox (he made a special call last week when Mark Buehrle threw his perfect game).
Given these facts, here's one more area where the president should think about getting involved -- steroids in baseball. The New York Times revealed Thursday that sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both failed steroids tests in 2003 -- the year before the duo led the Boston Red Sox to its first World Series championship in 86 years. Their names were leaked from a list of 104 players who were part of a trial list conducted by Major League Baseball. It's the same list from which Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa's names were leaked this spring.
Of course, that Ramirez -- now with the Los Angeles Dodgers -- has used performance enhancing drugs is hardly a surprise. The eccentric home run hitter was suspended for 50 games earlier this season after traces of a female fertility drug was discovered in his body.
What should Obama do? Well, he can act as an intermediary between MLB and the Players Association and try to convince both sides that it is in their best interests -- and the broader integrity of the game (cue the guffaws) -- to release the remaining names from the list of 104.
Without all the names being released, a persistent cloud exists over the game. All players from that period -- whether active or retired -- are tainted one way or the other. Further, it does the game no good to have games leaked every few weeks or so, with more headlines jumping onto the front page, smearing the game's current season -- and calling into question more recent accomplishments.
Get all the names out, pull the scab off the wound and let Major League Baseball move forward.
Of course, both conservatives and liberals have their own reasons why the president shouldn't be distracted with yet another problem when both the economy and health care (to name just two) are issues dominating his agenda.
That's true, but there's a good reason to. For one, it's the right thing to do (for the reasons mentioned above). It's also smart politically. He can make the argument that, though the "steroid era" is basically over, there's still unfinished business; it's up to the clubs and the players to clean up that business. He can go to both Commissioner Bud Selig and either current Players Union chief Don Fehr or his incoming replacement Michael Weiner and use the bully pulpit of the White House to get them to agree to release the list. With his slip in the polls, Obama should take the opportunity to do something that has no downside to it. To paraphrase a certain individual, it would be "acting smartly."
Besides, it's not like the federal government spending hasn't been on steroids over the last few years. The president is uniquely qualified to talk about it.