Meet the Press   |  August 04, 2013

4: Bob Costas updates MTP on biogenesis and baseball

NBC's Bob Costas visits Meet the Press to discuss the latest controversy surrounding baseball in America.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> sources this sunday morning are telling nbc sports that yankees star alex rodriguez will be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season and likely the entire 2014 season. major league baseball commissioner bud selig expected to make that announcement tomorrow. i want to bring in bob costas of nbc sporpts. always good to have you, bob, especially with a developing story like this. this is about biogenesis, as mayor giuliani referred to, and a second round of steroid use for alex rodriguez .

>> yeah. and they feel, "they" being baseball , feel that they have such abundant evidence against him that they can make the case stand up. ryan braun was already suspended for 65 games. there were few players more defiant than ryan braun who got off the first time on a technicality. but when presented with the evidence that baseball had, he settled. for whatever reason, and there may be financial reasons protecting the remainder of his contract, other issues involved, also just personal pride because a-rod is a different sort of individual in terms of how he views himself and his possible legacy in the game, for whatever reason they have, "they" being a-rod's camp, and baseball , have not been able to reach any kind of settlement. so selig is going to go ahead tomorrow and suspend him. the key is he's going to suspend him on two count, under the joint drug agreement but also under the overall collective bargaining agreement and the so-called integrity of the game clause. and the reason why that's significant is that on the first, if he or any other player, like let's say nelson cruz of the texas rangers , who leads them in rbis and is expected to be suspended tomorrow, as well, any player could appeal and remain on the field pending the outcome of the appeal if they're just suspended under the drug agreement. but if you're suspended under the best interests of baseball clause, you can still appeal but you're off the field and cannot play while that appeal is being adjudicated. and baseball apparently wants to make sure that a-rod doesn't play until this thing is completely settled.

>> the cover of " sports illustrated " this week, as people have read it, the last days of a-rod. i wanted to talk about this not just as a lifelong baseball fan, but this is an american institution dealing with cynicism, dealing with a sense of loss in terms of trust of heroes for young people , and yet as i've talked to you about it this week, you've been struck by the culture among the players and how that has changed that has led to discussion of a lifetime ban by baseball , which is so significant.

>> yeah. this is a positive -- in my view, this is a positive turning point. i mean, ooits not good that many players including star players are involved in ongoing performance-enhancing drugs use, but it's very clear that baseball is serious about this. they may have gotten religion on it late, but once they did, they got serious about it, show nothing favoritetism on it. ryan braun was a very popular player in the home city of the commissioner of baseball , a-rod one of the biggest stars. they'll go after anybody who fails a drug test or indicates they may be guilty. and not only is baseball itself putting pressure on these players, but now the pressure comes from within. even the players who didn't use a decade ago, there was kind of this code of silence . no one said anything. and the leaders of the players association were complicit in taking the game down the drain, corrupting both contemporary competition and the record books in the sport where records and comparisons across the generations matter most. now you have players saying, outspoken about it, we want ryan braun to receive a more significant penalty. we're behind these punishments. and, in fact, if anything, we'd like to see the punishments strength. ed.

>> and that's the question of how do you disincentivize this behavior? the blight on baseball in the '90s with steroids, and here you have a more sophisticated turn these players were making in order to still juice.

>> yeah. there are ever more sophisticated means of doing it. i don't think they can get the full-blown effect that mcgwire, sosa, bonds got where they could probably turn themselveses into psi borgs, but with the use of hgh and testosterone and masking agents they can get some edge, otherwise they wouldn't do it, so it's ongoing. but within the game, the disapproval mounts and the vast majority of players stand firmly against it, and you find some of them, like matt scherzer, a player from the detroit tigers , and others saying here's what we should add to baseball 's arsenal -- the right at the team's discretion to void a long-term contract if a player is found, and after he gets due process and goes through appeals, so it's a fair process, if the player is found to have used peds, the team has the right to void the long-term contract. in the case of ryan braun , for example, he loses $3 million. that's a lot of money. but there's still about $100 million left on the contract. if you put in that clause, that you could void a deal, that's a tremendous disincentive.

>> bob costas of nbc sports , thank you so much. what an important time with the suspension of alex rodriguez coming down to tomorrow according to your reporting from nbc sports . bob, thank you as always.

>>> andrea mitchell , you're such a big sports fan. my own son said to me if one of his players he really likes a lot is caught up in this, he's going to throw away his jersey. this really matters in terms of the future of the game.

>> baseball is america. baseball to me is essential sport. and the fact that it has been so disgraced in the past and now ongoing, it's got to be cleaned up. and the yankees of course are motivated by the $100 million left on the contract with the salary cap , but they also have to be concerned about the pinstripes.

>> do you agree with bob, though, rick, that this is a good day for baseball in terms of how strongly they're acting?

>> i'm very encouraged to hear about the players because i think that's been one of the big problems, the complicit ti of the players unions and other players sort of letting this pass and sort of rallying around the guy, whether they deserved it or not. i think that's a great turning point. and the point is -- and bob mentioned this -- baseball is a game about records. i mean, you always talk about your team and you go, well, what era, and that's -- you know, baseball is not the glitzy, glamorous sport that football can be and the nba. it's got more tradition and records. and you're throwing all that out when you throw this in here.

>> joy ann?

>> i was reading "42," the story of jackie robinson . so baseball has this tremendous capacity to bring out the best in individual athletes and really to showcase a potential for growth in the country. i mean, as a kid, i used to collect baseball cards . i was a huge baseball fan. afsz yankee fan. it's just disappointing that you can't count on the individual heroism of athletes. you can't believe it. the fact the awe ten then tis ti of those records is in question back to the '90s, it's difficult to find heros in our society. when people are motivated by lifestyle and money and trying to be bigger and stronger but not better, that's a problem, i think, that's fundamental to the chul you are, not just of baseball .

>> i think it's also a problem that you're a yankees fan. seriously.

>> another reason to love you.

>> when we were growing up, we're roughly from the same area, i followed hank aaron , roberto clemente .

>> steve garvey .

>> we could go on and on and on. and what was so great is my dad and i would debate, you know, mickey mantle versus hank aaron . of course i was hank aaron . i can't do that with my son because my son lives with an asterisk over his entire era. and i never let him forget it.

>> we're going to be right back. and we're going to remember a dear colleague [