Are there any writers outside of Philadelphia demanding justice for J.C. Romero? The Inquirer‘s Phil Sheridan suggests Commisioner Bud Selig ought to reduce the pitcher’s sentence down to 10 or 20 games.

Romero (above, left) sat on a picnic table outside the Phillies’ clubhouse yesterday morning and discussed “the longest and most frustrating off-season that I had in my career.” He was told in December that an arbitrator had ruled him “negligent” for taking an over-the-counter supplement that produced a positive test for the banned substance androstenedione – even though andro was not on the list of ingredients.

Romero was formally suspended by Major League Baseball in early January. A week later, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided the laboratory and offices of ErgoPharm, the company that produced the supplement in question. Results of the raid are under seal pending investigation, according to reports.

Clearly, Romero made a mistake by not following the letter of the MLB Players Association procedure for checking out supplements. But it was not a 50-game mistake. That’s the penalty a player would receive if he tested positive for the most hard-core injectable steroid on the market.

Oh, and it’s 50 games more than Rodriguez, Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens ever served or will serve….

Y’know, I understand the common-sense, spirit-not-the-letter sentiment at work here (see also, Spurs-Suns in 2007). But I can’t think of a single reason why it would be a good thing if we have a collectively bargained system of rules, appeals and arbitrations, which the commissioner of baseball then ignores at his discretion. Never mind that the “best interests of baseball” clause already grants Selig that power – do we really want him using it again? In the long run, that couldn’t be a good thing for the players or the fans.

To me, the whole thing becomes crystal-clear if you just flip the script. It was reported by Sheridan himself that Romero and the MLBPA originally thought he’d win the arbitration.

So let’s say that he had. Would justice and due process have been served if Selig chose to step in afterwards and said, “no sorry, he failed the test – never mind the arbitration, I’m suspending him for 20 games.” Either Selig is allowed to override the system or he isn’t. The rules may need an overhaul, but it’s too late for J.C. Romero, just like it should also be too late to punish A-Rod.

Meanwhile, Cole Hamels had to answer questions about shopping at GNC today. I look forward to an in-depth investigation of Chase Utley and Myoplex next.