Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday that, effective immediately, minor league baseball players will be subject to mandatory, random testing for HGH.

“The implementation of blood testing in the minor leagues represents a significant step in the detection of the illegal use of human growth hormone,” Selig said in a statement. “HGH testing provides an example for all of our drug policies in the future.”

In case you haven’t taken the time to think about it, this is a packed statement issued by the commish, and is the first real step taken by MLB to get HGH testing on the books in Major League Baseball as well.

In fact, this statement affects just about everyone involved with the game in one way or another. Here’s how.

It affects the head honchos at MLB. By virtue of the fact that they have finally realized that since the MLBPA doesn’t have any real sway over the minor leagues, they can pretty much have free reign to test out whatever they want on minor league players.

This actually isn’t the first time that Major League Baseball has done this. In fact, several things over the past 10-15 years have actually been tested down in the minor leagues first, such as mandatory suspensions for performance enhancing drugs.

However, this is the first major step MLB has taken in the minors, and the decision will have a widespread effect on just about anyone and everyone else involved in baseball here in America and around the world.

This decision also affects the Major League Baseball Players Association. As of yesterday, the union’s executive director Michael Weiner was claiming that as long as there was no “scientifically validated” test that could be administered “without interfering with the player’s ability to compete,” the union wouldn’t consider adhering to a policy that made such a test mandatory.

They did also state they had not been privy to how MLB will administer the HGH testing on minor leaguers, and they were very interested in discussing the specifics of the testing with Selig and his crew.

Here’s what the union should really be thinking, and probably is: Selig called their bluff, and by enacting testing in the minor leagues, he is creating an environment where testing is a commonplace, accepted practice in the minors.

In two, five, or maybe even 10 years, when he wants to once again push the issue with the union, many player reps will have been subjected to the test and will be more amicable on the issue, meaning we could eventually see HGH testing in the big leagues, regardless of whether the test is “scientifically validated.”

Not only are MLB and the players union affected, but the players of both leagues also need to pay attention to this.

In the minors, players who have been using HGH, and still are, should be running scared. Gone are the days of Sammy Sosas and Raffy Palmeiros, testing positive for PEDs at the big league level.

We’re now in the age where big leaguers are smarter, and if they’re on anything, it’s going to be something that can sneak through the tests. But minor leaguers make very little money thanks to no standing agreement with the MLBPA, and if they’re looking for an illegal edge, HGH is where it’s at.

Get used to the idea of your team’s up-and-coming, can’t-miss prospect being shelved for 50-100 games because he tested positive.

In fact, this statement probably has the biggest impact on minor league players, or rather, anyone who is NOT on a big league club’s 40-man roster. 

For years, minor leaguers have gotten bottom-of-the-barrel pay, with many receiving less than $30,000 a year to play ball below Triple-A. The reason that clubs can get away with this is because minor leaguers aren’t covered under any sort of agreement with the Players Association. They are their own entity, governed by Major League Baseball. Essentially, they have no rights.

After this statement, that could very easily change.

The reason that MLB has gotten so huge, and salaries have gotten so out of control is due to the part played by the Players Association. They have fought, tooth and nail, for better pay and less restrictive testing for years. Now, with the future of their product (the minor leagues) being threatened, we might see the MLBPA try to bring minor league baseball and its players into their fold.

They have now seen how MLB is trying to indoctrinate minor leaguers into having testing as a commonplace act, and they would be wise to try their own indoctrination, bringing them under their protection, and taking up residence on the player’s other shoulder so they can whisper into their ears.

It does have a minor (no pun intended), somewhat lessened impact on big league players as well. Not only could they be subject to HGH testing in just a few years, but now they have seen their union taken to school by MLB, having their bluff called.

And last, but not least, this statement affects you, me, and all the other fans, casual or diehard, around the world.

Over the past decade, minor league baseball has thrived due to its affordable prices and fantastic product, not to mention amazing giveaways, fireworks nights, and promotions. Minor league baseball has become a haven for fans who want to take their children to the ballpark, have a hot dog AND a drink (because you can afford it there), and enjoy how baseball used to be.

Part of the reason fans have been able to enjoy minor league baseball is because, for the most part, steroids scandals and stories about PEDs haven’t found their way to Durham, NC, or Greenville, SC, or the minor league park near you. There’s something about minor league baseball that just seems more honest, more clean.

Not anymore.

This statement has thrown MiLB into the spotlight, and since HGH is the new money word, you’ll be sure to hear, and read about, the next young hot-shot prospect who tests positive, and it will be just one more thing that dads will have to explain to their young children when they ask, “Dad, why isn’t (insert can’t-miss prospect’s name here) playing today?”

As a minor league fan, I’m all for the testing of HGH in the minors. Baseball has already taken so many steps to ensure that fans and other players aren’t cheated by cheaters, including mandatory testing for all international signings, and this statement is just another step in the right direction.

But, I’m also somewhat of a baseball purist, who thinks of Hank Aaron as the career home run king, Roger Maris as the single-season record holder, and who idolizes Cal Ripken, Jr.

I’m sure Ripken would agree this is in baseball’s best interest.

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