OFF BEAT: Biggest leak not A-Rod's

I despise the New York Yankees. I dislike the way they give themselves an advantage over other teams in the league by
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

I despise the New York Yankees.

I dislike the way they give themselves an advantage over other teams in the league by outbidding everyone else for players.

I dislike the way the former manager, Joe Torre, is making himself even more rich by taking cheap shots at his former colleagues in his new memoir.

I'll probably dislike their current manager, too, if I ever remember who he is.

When the Alex Rodriguez news broke, I asked my wife, the Cleveland Indians fan, if she wanted to hear some news about the New York Yankees. "Is it bad?" she asked hopefully.

So if you're a Yankees fan, you'd better enjoy this column defending your team's biggest star, because I'm not likely to offer a repeat performance.

By now, if you follow sports at all, you've heard that the player who is arguably the greatest slugger of all time tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Rodriguez tested positive during a year when using steroids wasn't banned by the league. The tests were given as a sampling to see how widespread steroid use was in the league. The results were supposed to be kept confidential, not bannered on the front cover of "Sports Illustrated."

Local and national sportswriters, invariable apologists for management, aren't playing up the fact that promises of confidentiality were broken. Instead, they are clucking about drug use, and quoting baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, that players who used steroids have "shamed the game."

I know it's difficult to feel sorry for Rodriguez, and easy to envy him. He's rich. He's famous. He probably spent the off season boinking your favorite actress.

So let me use an analogy.

Let's say you live in Erie County and you belong to a union at the place where you work. Management asks for a contract provision that includes drug testing. Your union was promised the results would remain confidential, so you agree.

And let's say a few years later, one of the union members, a guy who happens to be the fattest target in the public eye, is revealed in a page one story as a person who tested positive.

When you read the story, you notice that the company president isn't apologizing for the leak of confidential medical tests. Instead, he's saying that the guy who tested positive "shamed" the Consolidated Widget Co. when he complied with the contract and took the test.

Because that's what happened here. Bud Selig doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that his promises to the union were worthless. I doubt that he leaked the results, but shouldn't he be unhappy that Rodriguez's rights were violated?

Because individual rights are what this case is really about.

All of us enjoy certain rights as American citizens. We also have certain rights at work, under the law and under whatever agreement we may happen to have with our employers.

The federal government is everyone's ultimate "boss," and all of us depend upon the government respecting our rights, even when it isn't easy or convenient to do so.

For example, the right of free speech is only worthwhile if it protects unpopular opinions of unpopular people. If it only protects the people everyone agrees with, it's useless.

Alex Rodriguez ought to ask why the promises to him and other players weren't kept, and ask what Bud Selig's next broken promise is going to be.