Baseball union head Donald Fehr rejects the suggestion many players are under suspicion because 104 of them tested positive for drug use in 2003, including Alex Rodriguez.
The testing was confidential until Rodriguez's results were leaked to a reporter. Pitchers Curt Schilling and Brad Lidge are among those who have said all players who tested positive should be identified because otherwise everyone who played in 2003 is suspect.
"If that's the judgment, it seems to me that is entirely wrong," Fehr said Monday. "We know what happened in 2003. The number of positives we had was slightly over 5 percent. That means that slightly over 94 percent was negative."
Fehr noted the joint drug agreement has been amended a number of times since 2003 and '04.
"So far as I know, there is not a hint or suggestion that there is anything inappropriate or that it's not functioning right or that it isn't doing the job in 2005, '06, '07 or '08," he said. "And somehow that gets lost in what I can basically call the sensationalism around what happened five years ago."
The union last week sent a memo to players advising them to be careful "answering questions sparked by the media frenzy." Fehr said he doesn't think recent events have damaged the union.
"Public perception is whatever it is," he said. "Unions have been in disfavor in this country for virtually 30 years. The question is: Does any of this stuff damage the union's standing with the players? And I don't think so."
Spoken like a true lawyer and union boss.
Look, let's work through the math here. We know that 104 players tested positive in 2003. As I understand it, every player on a 40-man roster was tested in spring training; there are 30 teams, so 1,200 players were tested. And then late in the season, a subset of players was retested. If 104 were positive at least once, that's 8.7 percent.
Now, one might reasonably describe 8.7 percent as "slightly over 5 percent" but one might more reasonably describe 8.7 percent as "almost 10 percent."
And of course those are just the ones who were young and stupid enough to get caught. While there was no penalty for "failing" a drug test, there must have been some players who (a) simply didn't want their name appearing on a list, or (b) escaped a positive result because of good timing or good luck or better drugs. Based on everything else that we know, it would be naive to believe that fewer than 10 percent of major league players used a banned substance at any point in 2003.
I mean, seriously. Does Fehr really think we're so stupid? More to the point, are we so stupid?
As for the current policy "functioning right," we know that Major League Baseball would like to test for human growth hormone but can't, and we know that in 2008, 106 major leaguers got notes from their doctors and were prescribed ADHD medication.
So when Donald Fehr says "slightly over 5 percent" he means "nearly 10 percent." And when he says "it's not functioning right" he means "hardly anybody's getting caught and Congress is off our backs."
Hey, he's just doing his job.