Much is being made today of the possibility that baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will punish the San Francisco Giants for failing to rein in Barry Bonds and his "trainer" Greg Anderson. This is because Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) leaned heavily on Selig at yesterday's House Oversight Committee hearing, essentially getting Selig to promise he'd do something about those bad boys by McCovey Cove.
Does this mean Giants G.M. Brian Sabean and/or owner Peter Magowan will soon be receiving suspension notices, or paying a big fine, or suffering some other draconian punishment? I wouldn't bet on it, and here's why: they weren't alone.
While George Mitchell may have gotten former Giants trainer Stan Conte to reveal his frustration about steroids seeping into the Giants clubhouse, what doesn't appear in Mitchell's report is any detail about what went on with other teams. You think nobody with the Oakland A's wondered about Canseco and McGwire? Is it plausible that all those Yankees players fingered by Mitchell did what they're alleged to have done without anyone in Steinbrenner-land knowing or suspecting?
Remember, Selig works for the owners. If he offers Giants management up as a sacrificial lamb in this case, he's opening up a Pandora's box. He's punishing one of his employers for the exact same thing some, many, or all of the others are likely to have done as well.
It's been pointed out that past Commissioners have punished owners. Well, yes, but those cases involved activities that were highly-specific to the owners who were punished. Steinbrenner was convicted of a felony, and later, found to have spied on one of his players. Marge Schott was, well, an embarrassment to everyone. In both cases, other owners could enthusiastically endorse the punishment: their hands were clean.
This time, there would be an uneasy feeling all over baseball if the Giants were busted, for it's extremely doubtful they were alone.