You can add my voice to the chorus demanding the release of the list.
But my list isn’t “The List,” the one containing the names of 104 players – seven of whom have already been outed - who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in baseball’s ’03 survey. I don’t care who’s on that list, nor, by all accounts, does the general public. The only people who care about the names on The List are media folks, some of whom, like The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt, go to extraordinary lengths - including willfully violating the law - to satisfy their own curiosity.
The 25-year-old Schmidt is the reporter who broke the news last week that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were on The List (Schmidt revealed earlier this year that Sammy Sosa was also on The List). The Times cited “lawyers with knowledge of the results” as sources for the story and went on to say “the lawyers spoke anonymously because the testing information is under seal by court order.”
What the Times didn’t report is that it’s a crime to divulge information under court seal. In fact, as outgoing MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr stated through a spokesman, it’s also a crime “to actively pursue information that may not lawfully be disclosed because it is under court seal.” Which makes Schmidt as guilty as his sources.
Don’t think leaking evidence under seal is a crime? Tell it to Troy Ellerman, Victor Conte’s attorney who leaked information from the grand jury hearing on the BALCO investigation to reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle. Armed with that information, The Chronicle reporters published a book detailing Barry Bonds’ PED use. Much like Schmidt, they were lauded as heroes by their peers. Ellerman, on the other hand, received a 30-month prison sentence for his crime.
Fehr went on to say that the fact the Times’ informants “are lawyers, is both shocking and sad.” He’s half right. Sad, because we would like to think all lawyers are honest, honorable, law-abiding and ethical. Unfortunately, lawyers don’t exhibit those characteristics in any greater quantity than any other group in society, including bankers, politicians and used car salesmen. Which makes the news that lawyers are at the root of the illegal disclosures anything but shocking.
Disclosure of the remaining players on The List, which would require court approval, would be a meaningless exercise in voyeurism. None of the players on The List will be subject to legal or baseball sanctions. Revealing names won’t tell us all the players who cheated and which ones didn’t. It won’t tell us who was clean pre or post ’03. Nor will it tell us who was taking undetectable drugs or drugs that players weren’t tested for, like HGH. And the argument that knowing who is on The List will preserve the integrity of the Hall of Fame is bogus. You think no one in the HOF ever took PEDS?
Releasing The List will only serve to prove who the dumbest players in MLB were in 2003. Players were told by their union there would be a survey test of everyone on the 40-man roster, all 1,200 MLB players. They were told if less than 5% of the players tested positive, there would be no more testing. And there’s reason to believe that the union told the players to stop taking PEDs prior to the test.
And yet, 104 players either didn’t understand the message or couldn’t resist the urge to continue shooting up and inhaling illegal drugs. In either case, they should be permanently banned from the game. Anyone that dumb and reckless is dangerous, to himself and, as it turned out, to his brethren, the ones who juiced and the ones who didn’t.
Forget The List. The list I want to see is the one with the names of all the lawyers who are spilling their guts to the Times, violating their oath of office (lawyers are officers of the court), breaking the law, and selling out the honest and law-abiding members of their profession. I want to see that list published in The New York Times. And I want to see the people on that list get what they deserve.
Jordan Kobritz is a former attorney, CPA, and Minor League Baseball team owner. He is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Eastern New Mexico University, teaches the Business of Sports at the University of Wyoming, and is a contributing author to the Business of Sports Network. Jordan can be reached at email@example.com.