So today at work, at approximately 1:30 EST, the call went out: cubicle drones, go home! A massive snow storm was about to hit New England, and we were instructed to flee before it. And its wintry wrath. Out into the swirling white I went, and soon I was ensconced in my cozy (read: pathetically small) apartment and happily curled up with my laptop and the Mitchell report. Soon thereafter (following a brief sojourn for provisions) I was curled up with my laptop, the Mitchell report, and a Kahlua mudslide. And thus, without further ado, I present random and slightly inebriated thoughts on the Mitchell report:
1. Initial reaction: Despite morning rumors that current members of the Red Sox would be named—including captain Jason Varitek and former right fielder Trot Nixon—and assuming that former shortstop and ex-franchise face Nomar Garciaparra would be among the list, no members of the ’04 or ’07 championship teams were named. I admit, as a shameless Boston homer, that I have had enough of asterisks next our championship teams (thank you, Bill Belichick*). With several players who had been on the Red Sox named, only one was caught with steroids while he was playing for Boston (and he was some minor bit-player whose name I can’t even remember right now). I feel like my boys dodged a bullet. Is it so wrong for me to be relieved?
2. The way that Mitchell arranged his evidence chronologically highlighted the viral nature of steroid use. One guy tries it in one city; he tells his friend about it; the friend gets traded two a new city; he tells a couple guys about it; one of them leaves to play somewhere else….and you get the idea. Not surprising, but kinda creepy all the same. A Hercule Poirot-caliber bit of detective work by Mitchell. And without subpoena power!
3. That said, the entire report is limited by being so dependent on Radomski and his various associates. It’s clear that he was far from the only dealer in the game. The fact that the majority of players named in the report hail from ballclubs like the Yankees, the Orioles, the Yankees, the Diamondbacks, the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Yankees, and the Mets is obviously due to the fact that Radomski and his minions were closely linked to those clubs. It doesn’t mean that other clubs are innocent. It only means those players didn’t buy their drugs from guys in Radomski’s ring.
4. When early reports suggested that over a hundred MLB players could be named, I began to doubt my conviction that steroid-users should be kept out of the Hall of Fame. Maybe the problem was too widespread to make such a harsh judgment. But then I read the actual list. The only HOF lock is Roger Clemens. Will I cry for Roger if he gets shut out of Cooperstown? No. Do I think that will actually happen? Hell no. Today’s report actually makes it more likely that Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds will be elected to the Hall, because it shows how widespread the problem was. Same goes for Clemens. That said, I wouldn’t be sorry to see Clemens get the Pete Rose treatment. At least Dan Duquette can finally sleep easy again.
5. One question people have been asking me is, “Why does Congress even give a hoot what baseball does?” The answer, broadly, is that major league baseball is a monopoly that gets an exemption from anti-trust law from Congress. That is to say, Congress allows MLB to continue on as a monopoly as long as they’re good girls and boys and keep their noses clean. Essentially, this gives them oversight of baseball. Maybe not to the degree that the police have oversight of your driving habits, but definitely to the extent that your parents did when you were sixteen. Sure, it was legal for you to drive…as long as Dad would let you borrow the car.
6. The one reaction to this report I just don’t understand is apathy. Despite the fact that there are, right now, over 14,000 news articles on this topic coming up on Google, there are still some folks out there who just don’t care! Worse, there are baseball fans out there who claim not to care. You guys should donate your brains to science.