The perfect setup

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

It is all set up now for Bud Selig, a moment in time for baseball's commissioner to take a strong, principled stand for baseball.

Selig has spent too many years looking the other way and getting bullied by the player's union to completely wash his hands of the current epidemic of drug cheats in the game. But if there was ever a chance to redeem himself, this is it.

Reaction to last week's grand jury leaks and "20/20" interview with BALCO founder Victor Conte has broken one way.

Fix this, the fans cry, the politicians demand, the former players plead. Get baseball the most stringent drug policy in sports before America's pastime becomes as hopeless as track and fraud.

By Saturday, Arizona Senator John McCain was giving Major League Baseball until January to get its act together or he was going to do it for them.

"I warned them a long time ago that we needed to fix this problem," McCain said. "It's time for them to sit down together and act. And that's what they should do. I'll introduce legislation in January, but I hope I don't have to do that."

By Sunday Hank Aaron, the iconic home run king who had long stood by Bonds, had begun seeing things the other way.

"Drugs won't help you hit the ball," Aaron told The Atlanta Journal Constitution. "But can they make you recuperate consistently enough to hit the kind of home runs that these guys are hitting?

"Any way you look at it, it's wrong."

Let Hammerin' Hank hammer it home. It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong. And everyone knows it. Selig has an avalanche of support behind him on this one.

So use it.

Let union chiefs Donald Fehr and Gene Orza try to defend the cheats. Let the union try to excuse BALCO Bonds and his ilk. Let them try to explain how protecting the steroid sluggers is good for the clean, innocent players.

They are boxed into a corner now. No way out with a straight face.

You think Fehr and Orza feel good about taking a stand behind Bonds, who has been lying to everyone for years by claiming he never knowingly or unknowingly took any performance enhancing drugs? Please.

How pathetic does Bonds look now? Remember when he used to shout down all the critics? When he challenged the manhood of fellow players who suggested that his bulk wasn't just from the weight room?

Barry apparently thought muscles made the man, but he was wrong.

Once he was in front of that grand jury, he started acting like a sissy, parsing words, going Bill Clinton on us. He smoked but he didn't inhale. It all depends on what your definition of is, is.

Yes, Bonds admitted, he took some stuff. But he thought it was just flaxseed oil, not an illegal drug, even when his head size and home run totals swelled like Pinocchio's nose.

What a joke. What a total, complete joke.

So Mr. Selig, let the union have him. Dare them to back this clown. These kinds of fights are about public relations, and the public is overwhelmingly behind you.

Call for strict testing and intense punishments. Make the penalties for cheating so severe that no one dares. Only the most powerful sanctions can compete with the deal with the devil of money and fame that steroids can deliver.

So go hardcore. Dream big and demand it all. Test positive, and you are out of baseball. Not for a year, but forever.

Put a clause in every contract that says taking these things represents fraud against the team and if you are caught, you owe back money you've already been paid.

Home run totals will drop. But credibility will rise.

Now is the time to go bold. If the union doesn't want to agree to significant concessions, lock them out and watch them flounder in public. Watch Fehr and Orza explain to their members they are losing paychecks because BALCO Barry needs to be protected.

That union will shatter faster than Sammy Sosa's corked bat.

The fans have had enough. Sen. McCain is lurking. The President of the United States is a former team owner.

It is the perfect setup. You've got the union behind the eight ball.

Now make up for past failures and slam it home.

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