By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

Bud Selig has issued a gag order on the topics of steroids and BALCO, but he shouldn't stop there. Bud is a man of many powers, and the power to force the mouths of an entire industry to shut down is just the beginning. In fact, with John Ashcroft currently dealing with a painful physical incapacitation, Bud might be the reigning czar of our inalienable rights.

Bud Selig
Bud Selig is determined to due away with all aging parks.

Since everybody appears to be heeding Bud's plea for silence, he should expand his powers. He's stopped people from talking about something we're actually interested in hearing more about, so maybe he can put the lid on some of the baseball-related topics that raise the bile in our throats.

Bud can start with a gag order on baseball owners who continue to bore us with their incessant whining about competitive balance and the game's salary structure. Peter Magowan of the Giants comes to mind; this guy went on the radio the other day and whined for five minutes about the inequity of the Yankees acquiring A-Rod, how the richest team gets the richest player and all that garbage you've heard a zillion times from these guys. But then Magowan backed up his argument by saying the Yankees were able to do it without adding a single dollar of payroll. That's right, they traded Alfonso Soriano and dumped Aaron Boone and got the Rangers to pay for two of A-Rod's limbs and -- hey, lookie here -- the Yankees' payroll didn't change.

Talk about unfair. What does that make the Yankees -- the richest team in baseball, or the smartest team in baseball?

A gag order from Bud would make the point irrelevant. It would also save these guys from having to at least attempt to make sense.

And Bud, how about a ban on sports broadcasters who use moments such as these to flaunt their inability to pronounce the word "asterisk"? No matter how many times you say it, the word simply isn't pronounced "asterick."

Anytime he wants, Bud can issue a gag order on owners who complain about the inadequacies of their stadium, and how it related to that all-important competitive balance.

We'd welcome a gag order on Red Sox fans bemoaning their fate, but Bud doesn't appear to have much of a problem with any member of the whiner species.

What Selig might not realize is that people might not be talking about the steroid/BALCO issue, but ignoring it isn't going to make it go away.

He should know that -- baseball has tried and failed with that approach for years now.

This Week's List

  • A topic for another day: The lingering issue of whether steroids can really make you a better hitter.

  • Why it needs to be addressed: Too many otherwise intelligent people -- most of them in the sportswriting business -- have embarrassed themselves attempting to conclude that performance-enhancing drugs have no impact on a man's ability to play better baseball.

  • One item for your consideration: Picture Willie Mays at 40, falling down in the outfield, and ask yourself this -- was Mays' decline attributable to him being a lesser athlete than some of today's superstars of similar age, or was his body simply betrayed by the normal effects of aging?

  • In other words: What if you could offset the body's natural tendency to lose muscle mass and generally decline after the age of 35? Wouldn't you be a better hitter at 39 years old than the guy who chose to let nature run its course?

  • Just for the heck of it: Ed Kirkpatrick, as natural as the day is long.

  • We'll help, coach -- the answer is none: After Stanford beat Washington State on Thursday with a miraculous, seemingly impossible three-pointer at the buzzer, Cardinal coach Mike Montgomery said, "I don't know how many times Matt Lottich has made a shot like that to win a game."

  • Can't wait to get my hands on my NCAA bracket: I'm eagerly anticipating that BALCO-IUPUI matchup.

  • Fact: UConn's women proved mortal this season, as evidenced by their loss to Boston College in the Big East tournament.

  • Hope: UConn's mortality will cause coach Geno Auriemma to find some humility.

  • Reality: Nah.

  • Oh, and one other idea for a gag order: Whitey Ford told writers in Florida he would have loved to see Mickey Mantle play a full season at Coors Field, because "he would have hit 90 there."

  • And that, of course, would have caused us to demand one thing: An asterick.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.




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