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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?


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Friday, December 14, 2007

My Thoughts on Baseball's Mitchell Report


Former senator George J. Mitchell has released his Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation Into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball.

Clearly, the title has been taking some steroids of it's own.

In all seriousness, I'm glad it's out there now, so we can stop speculating about what it would say. And what it said, of course, is of no surprise to anyone. Baseball's got a widespread problem with performance enhancing drugs, the owners buried their heads in the sand during the great home run races of the mid-90s until they were forced by publicity to do so no longer, and the union fought any effort to stop it in fear of one of their members possibly being punished for breaking the rules.

So today, no one's really talking about any of that. All they're talking about is "the list" - the 80 or so names of players who Senator Mitchell "outed" as part of the steroid problem. The biggest name on the list, by far, is Roger Clemens, who Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports calls baseball's white Barry Bonds.

For his part, Clemens vehemently denies everything the report has to say about him. This is an interesting tactic for Clemens to take, and quite a refreshing one too, especially when placed next to Mark McGwire's famous "I'm not here to talk about the past" speech in front of Congress a couple of years back. Instead of lawyering up, Clemens is adding the charge of "lying about steroids" to the one of "using steroids" that Mitchell delivered this morning. For all of his on-field accomplishments, he's counting on being proven (or believed) innocent at this point, because if he's ever actually proven guilty, his actions today will do just as much to keep him out of the Hall of Fame as any drug he ever took.

As a New York Yankee fan, I've watched Clemens closely for several years. I obviously don't know what drugs he's taken, but I can tell you that the guy has a genuine love of the game and of it's history and traditions. For him to be kept out of the Hall of Fame because of this will be a serious blow to him personally. I don't know if you could say the same about Mark McGwire.

And speaking of Big Mac, it's interesting to note that while the report mentions him by name, it is only to recount the "Andro" story that first prompted forced Major League Baseball to begin looking at a potential steroid problem. In fact, the report states that of the many people Senator Mitchell interviewed that knew Mark McGwire, only one (Jose Canseco) claims to have personally witnessed him taking steroids. As such, the report does not accuse him of anything he hasn't already admitted to doing (i.e., the Andro from 1998). But that won't keep the press from printing his name as someone "mentioned in the report." More trouble for Big Mac, I'm afraid...

Finally, I'm most surprised by some of the non-power hitters on this list. For instance - Chuck Knoblauch? Here's a guy who never hit more than 18 home runs in a season, and who's batting average only varied from his career .289 average by more than 40 points four times in his career. If he took steroids, he obviously didn't take the right ones. And, as one New York writer put it, "clearly, steroids don't help you throw to first base."

posted by Brian at 12:40 AM


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