The George Mitchell Report
It’s a sad day for baseball. The anticipated Mitchell Report was released today, and the backlash has been immense. Seventy-six current or former players were named in the report as players that had used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Some were innocuous players that I’ve never heard of and others were high-profile and Hall of Fame caliber players.
Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and David Justice were some of the bigger names mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
Now, what is my take on the report? Well, I’ve got a couple.
First, when Bud Selig hired Senator George Mitchell to do this report, I did my research on Mitchell. I found that he was a respected and upstanding US Senator. I also found out that he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox had no current players named in the Mitchell report. I’m not saying that he intentionally ignored Boston players and catered to their front office, but I’m also not ruling it out. Why Selig couldn’t find an arbitrary source to conduct this report is beyond me.
Second, this report accomplishes nothing that will be beneficial for Major League Baseball. All the report has is circumstantial evidence. 85% of the information in the report was provided to Mitchell and his cronies by Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse employee of the New York Mets. He was facing a ton of jail time for the illegal distribution of PEDs (not all to MLB players) and cut a deal with Mitchell to reduce his time if he talked.
Eduardo Perez said it best: “Proof is testing positive.”
And the report has none of those. No positive tests, no record of positive tests and no hard evidence that any of these players did anything more than cut checks to clubhouse employees. All the evidence that Mitchell has is eyewitness testimony. Which, as anyone even remotely versed in basic law knows is the least reliable form of evidence. So basically nothing we didn’t know already. There’s not much in there that proves anything. It’s a fancy compilation of stuff we’ve already heard. As I expected, the report accomplished nothing of any significance. It also didn’t have anything on anyone since 2004. It just pissed a lot of people off.
So what did we learn?
The era of good feeling is over: MLB and the MLBPA have been quite chummy for a few years now. The last collective bargaining agreement was fairly painless and they’ve cooperated on various issues, most notably the World Baseball Classic. The Mitchell Report could change that. The MLBPA got tossed under the bus for a lot of this and Bud Selig didn’t.
Lawyer up: Every team is putting out sanitized statements now. You’re going to hear a lot of “we have to move on” from all parties involved.
Roger retired: Roger Clemens will not be stringing any teams along come May or June for another inflated contract. He really battled his body and age last year and won’t want to fight those issues again, now with this whole steroid thing.
It wasn’t worth it: Take a look at the list of players. Most are either bums or guys who ended up becoming injured. And these are guys busted for using performance enhancing drugs? Andy Pettitte supposedly took HGH to help rehab his elbow. He had surgery anyway. At some point, even baseball players have to be smart enough to realize that the short-terms gains are not worth the long-term implications.
Thanks for the ethics: A list of names was going around the internet this morning that proved to be inaccurate. Incredibly, some web sites published it. I hope this teaches them a lesson in confirming news before publishing it. Names like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were included on these lists. And there name doesn’t appear anywhere in the 311 (plus appendixes) pages of the Mitchell Report. I know, I looked.
Finally: To me, the Mitchell Report was as useful as Carl Pavano was to the Yankees. Most of the names were ones we have heard before, there weren’t any new names. If the Senator did not have the forced cooperation of Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee, he would have had almost nothing. The names revealed were basically of those players stupid enough to write checks to a lug like Radomski. Know this much: There are dozens of players breathing a sigh of relief today that they didn’t get caught. If they get scared straight, good. But MLB should invest its money in more frequent and effective tests. That’s the only way this ends. Telling us Chuck Knoblauch did something wrong seven years ago is meaningless. Telling us Ken Caminiti did steroids is useless. First, he admitted it and second, he’s dead. I expect a 15-game suspension for him to come down any day now.
Nothing that the Mitchell report covered is new, and none of it is anything MLB or the MLBPA can use today. The report did nothing to help baseball’s steroid problem. It enhanced a bunch of negative feelings and made Bud Selig look like an even bigger idiot than he did when he ended the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie.
The evidence against these players is shaky at best, and its credibility and validity must, and eventually will be called into question. MLB just spent $20+ million to find out what I could have pulled off of Google for free.