On Wednesday, Joe Aiello gave us a couple of ideas he would implement were he "Commissioner for a Day." The two items he sought to change were the All-Star Game and the overall playoff system. Because I am tacky and unoriginal, I would like to piggyback on Aiello's "commissioner" theme and add some ideas of my own.
No. 1: Issue a formal apology to Barry Bonds.
I have, for the longest time, loathed baseball's performance-enhancing drug witch-hunts. They were entirely hypocritical and often marred the reputations of otherwise innocent players. I am not implying that Bonds was by any means innocent of using PEDs, but I just do not care if he did or did not because of the way he was treated.
The problem has always been on Major League Baseball's end as a result of their delayed responses to the issues of the day. Steroids did not just magically appear in the late 1990s; they had been around in baseball since the '60s and became very popular in the '80s. In 1991, then-commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to all of the clubs, reminding players they are to abstain from taking any illegal substance, including steroids. However, this "rule" was never enforced and quickly forgotten about.
If MLB truly cared about the health of the players and "cleaning up" the sport, it would have been more proactive in enforcing the anti-drug rules. Likewise, the writers -- many of whom demonize PED users -- did nothing to aid in publicizing the athletes' drug use, often looking the other way.
A confluence of factors led to Bonds being made the poster-child for the sport's "steroid era." Chiefly, he was an easy scapegoat for MLB and for the writers since he was not at all a fan favorite outside of San Francisco. Fans' intense hatred of Bonds (fueled by the writers) blinded them from MLB's incompetence.
Bonds has not played since 2007, but still has not officially retired. Prior to the '08 season, Bonds was trying to find a team -- any team -- interested in him; no one bit. His age, injury history and contract demands were cited as deterrents, but he said he would be willing to play for the league minimum and had just come off a season in which he posted a 1.045 OPS in 477 plate appearances at the age of 43.
Jamie Moyer is 48 years old and just had Tommy John surgery. Over the past two seasons, he has posted ERAs of 4.94 and 4.84, yet is eyeing a comeback. You can bet there will be some interested teams waiting for Moyer when he is once again healthy.
Whether MLB and the owners care to admit it or not, they colluded against Bonds to keep him from playing baseball after the '07 season. That, not the rampant steroid use during the 1990s and early 2000s, will be what ultimately leaves a black eye on baseball's history.
No. 2: Mandate that Adam Dunn participate in the Home Run Derby.
When you think of Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, what is the first word that pops into your head? I mean, after "strikeouts?" That is correct: homers. Over his 10-year career, Dunn has crushed more than 350 of them, averaging 35 for every 600 plate appearances.
Yet, somehow, Dunn has never participated in the Home Run Derby. Whether he has been overlooked over the years or has rejected every invitation sent his way is unclear. The fact is that most fans would love to see Dunn and his 500-foot home runs at the All-Star Game festivities. Dunn is good for baseball.
Overall, the Derby has had most of the game's most prolific sluggers take their cuts, but in recent years, the level of talent there has dwindled. Last year's crop included Chris Young, Vernon Wells, and Corey Hart. While they have some pop, they are not names that will captivate my attention and get me to tune in. Adam Dunn will get me to tune in.
Bill Baer is the author of the Phillies blog Crashburn Alley. Follow him on Twitter @CrashburnAlley.