Orza Must Be Fired

I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but if this report from Jon Heyman is correct, Gene Orza should resign or be fired first thing in the morning, and the whole of union leadership should rethink everything they’ve said and done with respect to PEDs over the past seven years:

That list would have been long gone if not for the union, several baseball people say. Players union COO Gene Orza worked long and hard to try to pare down the list. Orza’s mission, according to baseball people, was to find enough false positives on the list to drive the number of failures so far down that real testing wouldn’t be needed in 2004 or ever.

Orza wanted to get the list down below the five percent threshold for testing to go away entirely. But try as he might, he could not drive it down quite that far. After months of trying, Orza couldn’t do it, and baseball announced that a curiously amorphous 5-7 percent of players failed the 2003 survey test, enough to ramp up the testing in 2004, much to the union’s dismay.

According to multiple baseball sources, Orza spent way too much time studying the results in hopes of lowering the number. And while Orza was playing with the paperwork, BALCO struck, foiling his grand scheme.

And when BALCO investigators asked for the results of the players linked to that scandal, Orza did what came naturally to him, which was to fight. He had a history of winning his fights, so that gave him confidence that he could win this fight.

But this time he didn’t win. The feds subpoenaed all the records instead of just the BALCO boys.

All 104 players who tested positive were now at risk.

No, this doesn’t wash the hands of anyone else — not the person who wrongfully leaked this information or Alex Rodriguez for using in the first place — but Orza’s actions and motivations, if Heyman is accurately describing them, constitute negligence and hubris of the highest order. No one charged with representing the interests of others as Orza is should ever be in a position to do as much damage as he appears to have done.

(thanks again to The Common Man for staying the hell on top of this story as I lounge my weekend away)

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Wooden U. Lykteneau
15 years ago

“‘The Players Association screwed up royally,’ [Scott Boras] said on Saturday”

“That list would have been long gone if not for the union, several baseball people say.”

Really? Why? Based on the say-so of agents?

This story fails to explain how, when, and why the union circumvented the measures taken to ensure privacy. It also fails to explain if no measures were taken, why they weren’t. It even fails to explain how or why it was necessary to know the identity of a failed test in order to challenge it.

And finally nowhere in this story is the word “alleged” used, which is an egregious omission because it’s the precise word to use when describing an assertion without proof.

15 years ago

Ugh…John Heyman.  Add this to the list of “stories he’s broken.”

Pete Toms
15 years ago

I haven’t seen any other explanation as to why the PA didn’t have the test results destroyed…I don’t understand the criticism of this story…

Craig Calcaterra
15 years ago

Hey, so Heyman is a Boras shill. We know that. But it’s possible to also be a shill and be correct.  We will learn soon enough if this story is all BS, and if so, I’ll walk it back.  But if this is true, the union has, for the first time in its history, screwed its membership.  That’s huge.  I’d even go so far as to say that that could be the biggest takeaway from this story.  Lots of stars have tested positive. The union screwing up and betraying their membership is the real man bites dog here.

15 years ago


I am going to challenge your notion that this may be the first time in history the MLBPA has screwed it’s membership as I believe that is has been failing a large, though often overlooked, portion of it’s membership for years.  From my perspective the PA has had two major focuses over the years: to protect the players rights and to increase salaries with the rising tide model.  In opting for these two focuses the PA disregarded players health for privacy rights and advocated for the top players more than it did for the majority of players.

In regard to the health v. privacy dichotomy the PA, with Gene Orza apparently the leader of the pact, appear not to be concerned with what a player may be doing to his body and the long-term consequence of such actions but can we keep his secret.  We heard the PA argue against testing as it is a violation of rights because it assumes guilt over innocence while this is a common employment practice that goes beyond just drug testing as many people that work with children and youth get fingerprinted and have background checks to assure folks with questionable backgrounds do not work with our children. 

I suspect that many past members of the NFLPA who are suffering health issues today wished their union had done more to protect the health interest of the players both during their playing careers as well as to assure adequate care post-careers.  What long-term health consequences may this generation of MLB players face in the future due to the use of PEDs?  I cannot answer that question and neither can most players but I suspect that Jose Canseco wishes that someone had been thinking about his long-term health before he injected who know what into his body.  In my opinion the MLBPA a duty to consider these issues and to protec the players from themselves as much as it does in protecting their privacy.

As for the rising tide model I believe the PA has overlooked the marginal player for years in promoting the benefits of not having a salary cap and allowing the rising market theory to drive top salaries higher and higher.  Of course this ultimately rises the salary tide for everyone, including the marginal player but at what cost.  I suspect that many of these marginal players used PEDs to stay in the big and get the contract.  Allowing an unbalanced playing field (PEDS users v. clean players) puts an undue strain on the marginal player to stay clean as they will not stay in the show on talent alone and may have a greater sense of temptation to use PEDs to simply maintain their marginal status as staying clean could result in being a career minor leaguer.

15 years ago

Agreed Pete. The Union was responsible for these tests and required to ensure they remained confidential. They are now in the public domain, so unless the union can show they weren’t negligent, the blame for this lies on their shoulders.

The Heyman article provided a pretty plausible scenario for how these names were leaked. I gotta say, if I was one of the other 103 players on the list, I’d be a touch worried.

As for the Union, most of these guys are dinosaurs. Men like Gene Orza are, in my opinion, a hindrance to the Union (outside the issue of drug-testing). Looking at every relationship with the owners as a zero sum game means the Union has not been able to provide any leadership on issues that require cooperation.

15 years ago


If memory serves, the White Sox as a team voted to *not* submit to the drug test. Under the rules at the time, failure to submit to the test constituted a positive result, and thus counted towards that 5% threshold.

15 years ago

Thanks Steve.  That makes sense, and might explain the discrepancy between the two reported values of “failures” (8.x percent vs 5 – 7 percent).

15 years ago

This may not have really happened, but I remember when the ‘03 testing was happening reading about a team meeting by the White Sox that they would all do something, as a team, to get positive results, to try and force past the 5% testing threshold.  Anybody have anything on that?

Aaron Moreno
15 years ago

To tie it all together, this means that Scott Boras is using Jon Heyman to fire Gene Orza?