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Maybe baseball needs a father figure

How the league can learn from Giambi's past
08/07/2013 8:19 PM ET
By Doug Williams

Jason Giambi currently plays for the Cleveland Indians. In 2004, he admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs.(AP)
Jason Giambi has been getting a lot of good press of late. His manager, Terry Francona, called him his "manager in waiting" earlier this year, and with the Biogenesis suspensions last week, Giambi has been used as the poster boy for the right way to get caught cheating.

In 2004, Giambi fessed up. He admitted that he had done something wrong to get ahead. He didn't make excuses; he just apologized and owned his mistake.

Now, Giambi is 42 years old and playing for the Cleveland Indians. He's more of a manager than a player, but he still hits an occasional clutch blast like he did in New York. And, after the Biogenesis suspensions came out, Giambi was willing to talk about the direction in which baseball was going.

Giambi is unlike other former users in so many ways. He's still playing in the league, he's open about PEDs place in the game, he's widely respected in the league and adored by teammates and opposing players.

That's why, if I worked for Major League Baseball, I would hire Giambi as soon as he retires as a player. Instead of coaching one team, Giambi could coach the players in all 30 organizations by being the head of a research committee on performance enhancing drugs.

The league has already admitted that PEDs are in the game. How smart would they look if they assigned a task force to talk to young players about the fall from grace that they cause? And who better to do that than a former player who, as he said in Spring Training, has "been to the top of the mountain and down to the gutter in this game?"

While the future superstars and current youngsters probably look up to Giambi, current Major Leaguers respect him, and I'll bet that many of them consider him a friend. That's a combination that would make him perfect for this role.

So what would this role entail exactly? A lot of traveling. Giambi would tour around to rookie leagues, Single-A, and Double-A ball clubs. He would meet players and give them advice on and off the field. He would also hold team meetings behind closed doors, giving him a chance to formally tell his story to the players who most need to hear it. Like he said in 2004, Giambi would tell players that he honestly believes PEDs did not help him hit the baseball. He would tell players to trust their true talent that had gotten them to that point.

Giambi would also be the first to respond to those players who fail tests. Before players are punished or reprimanded and way before the media is involved, Giambi would be able to sit down with the players and talk about what they did and why they did it. Through these relationships and conversations, Giambi would build trust with the players. Even though they would know his job is to help rid the game of what they are taking, it's very possible that their knowledge of Giambi's former use of PEDs would increase the likelihood of the players to admit their source of the drugs. Giambi would then pass that information along and move to the next case.

His job would not include any authority to punish players or to discover those that are cheating. He would only deal with players when it's early or when it's too late.

Here is the key: Major League Baseball wants to catch these players themselves. As great as it is that the Biogenesis suspensions helped clean the game, Bud Selig would undoubtedly say that he would prefer the guilty to be discovered from within his jurisdiction (failed test, their own investigations, etc.). Giambi would allow him to do that.

Giambi is the kind of talent that could be hired as a manager the week after retiring as a player-so baseball is going to have to move fast if they want to take my advice. If I'm Bud Selig, I take the shot. I would hire a guy who has made mistakes. I would hire a guy who has seen the highs and the lows. And most importantly, I would hire a guy who is 42, clean, and still hitting the ball farther than most of the guys he'll talk to. 

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