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Down The Line

August 26, 2007|Bill Shaikin

As the steroids investigation turns

Jason Giambi owns up to using steroids and blames baseball for hesitating to confront the issue. Commissioner Bud Selig, enraged more by the accusation of blame than the admission of use, threatens Giambi with a 50-game suspension unless he meets with former Sen. George Mitchell, the leader of baseball's steroids investigation.

Giambi talks to Mitchell -- raising the number of active players known to speak with him to one -- and Selig lets him off, noting Giambi has agreed to donate $50,000 each to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Harlem chapter of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities.

Selig saves face, because a suspension almost certainly would have been overturned. But Giambi said Selig did not order him to choose among a donation, fine or suspension.

"This was already in motion before anything happened with Senator Mitchell," Giambi said last week at Angel Stadium. "They're great programs. They're great for baseball. Bud and I talked about it a few times. He liked the idea."

The Mitchell investigation is turning into a problematic -- and expensive -- mess for Selig. The commissioner began the probe after the book "Game of Shadows" detailed how Barry Bonds and other athletes reportedly obtained and used steroids.

Selig sold owners on the highly debatable proposition that Congress might intervene if baseball did not investigate its steroids past. Baseball already had responded to congressional pressure -- by adopting a steroids testing program, then tightening it twice. The probe could cost owners $15 million, or more, and some owners are increasingly skeptical that they'll get much for their money.

Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who admitted to steroid trafficking, provided names of alleged users to Mitchell in accordance with his plea bargain, SI.com reported last week. But as long as players refuse to talk to Mitchell and the government does not share evidence with him that would corroborate Radomski's claims, baseball could have far more to lose than to gain if Mitchell's report lists all those names.

"You might as well be accused of being a Communist," a highly placed management source said.

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A winning Wells would be the best revenge

The Dodgers got their man, a year too late, perhaps too late to save their season, or his career.

The Dodgers were desperate for David Wells last August. They were furious when the Red Sox traded him to the Padres, believing Boston rejected a superior offer to steer Wells to San Diego. The Padres re-signed him, then recently told him they would cut him unless he chose to retire. The Dodgers, even more desperate now, picked him up.

Wells, 44, starts tonight for the Dodgers, who cut Brett Tomko to make room for him. The earned-run average for each as a starter this season: Wells 5.54, Tomko 5.56.

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An item in honor of Herb Washington

The Angels are 23-15 against the New York Yankees over the last four seasons, and the teams could meet again in the playoffs. Yankees Manager Joe Torre said the Angels' speed can drive teams to distraction, prompting the question of why more teams don't play that way. "A lot of teams can get guys who can run," Torre said, "but can't play baseball. It's not that easy." . . . Congratulations to Dave Trembley, the no-longer-interim manager of the Orioles. Trembley worked his way up from Antelope Valley College, without playing in the major or minor leagues. . . . The Tigers' Curtis Granderson is the only major league regular not to ground into a double play this season. . . . Of the five pitchers in the Phillies' starting rotation in April, one has not missed a turn all season -- Jamie Moyer, age 44. . . . Public service announcement displayed on the video board at Toronto's Rogers Centre, brought to you by the Blue Jays and the Ontario government: "Jumping in front of a Roy Halladay fastball is stupid. But not as stupid as smoking."

-- Bill Shaikin

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