Yay! Snow day!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!

All I want for Christmas is a 400-page steroid report.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.

14 Responses to “Random thoughts on the Mitchell Report. Thoughts that have been slightly altered by performance-diminishing drugs.”

  1. Don’t forget his remarks concerning Hitler!

    Conlin was excessively immature, and if it’s not a microcosm of American media in general, it’s an indicator of where newspapers are heading: in the wrong direction.

    I told Conlin that just because he’s been an established journalist for many years that he isn’t done learning. He can learn from us bloggers just as we can learn from him.

  2. Coley Ward says:

    Bill B., I agree. We can all learn a lot from each other. But if Conlin’s (and Marcus Hayes’) comments are any indication, I doubt they feel there’s anything they can learn from bloggers.

    I find that attitude amazingly arrogant and naive. I AM A JOURNALIST. I write professionally for the paper of record in Tucson, AZ. And before that I wrote for a weekly in Atlanta. And before that I worked for ESPN and The Day in New London, Conn. And the journalists that most inspire me aren’t the old guard columnists, they’re the bloggers.

    The future of journalism is online. And the bloggers are the pioneers of online writing. Any print journalist who isn’t looking to Deadspin, Fire Joe Morgan, Baseball Musings, etc. for inspiration is a fool.

  3. Selig claimed he hasn’t even read the report yet. Do you think he’s waiting for the Cliffs Notes version? I was most surprised that team executives like Brian Sabean were exposed to have blatantly looked the other way. We knew this had to have gone on but I didn’t think the report would document specific examples. I also thought it was unbelievable that an MLB doctor put on a presentation at the ’98 winter meetings and claimed steroids might not be such a bad thing. Guess he thought the jury was still out on that one.

  4. #1 isn’t really accurate – not only were two members of the ’07 roster named (Eric Gagne and Brendan Donnelly), but the report quoted verbatim from several emails back and forth between Theo Epstein and his scouts about them.

    The Theo implications are potentially FAR more damaging than a mention of Trot Nixon.

  5. Yeah, #1 should be ammended to read, “nobody IMPORTANT from the 2004 or 2007 championship teams were named, except Trot, and at least it wasn’t Papi or Tek.”

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Boston86, you are partially right. Yes, members of the ’07 roster were named, but they in no way contributed to the ’07 championship and the evidence about them indicated they used steroids prior to joining the Red Sox. In fact, Donnelly wasn’t even on the “championship team” (ie, the postseason roster), a roster that Gagne had no business being part of given his performance in Boston during the regular season. I should have written, “no CONTRIBUTING members of the ’04 or ’07 championship teams” or “no members of the ’04 or ’07 championship teams who were USING STEROIDS AT THE TIME.” Either of those would have worked. You are right, I was a bit sloppy. Perhaps because of the performance-diminishing substances I had imbibed.

    Regarding your Theo Theory, I’m not so sure. Yes, it shows Theo inquiring about and eventually hiring guys who had taken steroids in the past. But I think that’s about all it shows. And doesn’t it demonstrate that the Red Sox did cooperate with the investigation? I don’t see how either of those are particularly damaging. The Dodgers’ staff comes off looking worse.

  7. Sarah Green says:

    And Coley, Trot isn’t named. What are you talking about?

  8. Coley Ward says:

    You’re right. Trot was on the fake list. My bad.

  9. Was the initial leaked list a fake list or just not the final draft? It’s very possible that those names were excluded in the final draft because Mitchell felt there wasn’t enough corroborating evidence. Many more players were most likely implicated even though they weren’t in the draft released to the public. The players named may just be the tip of the iceberg.

  10. It’d probably be a lot more fun if your idea was true, Melissa. But if that was the case, then it doesn’t account for why a lot of names that appear on the Mitchell report are missing from the other list.

  11. Tom Hoffman says:

    The chart on page C21 of today’s New York Times is very interesting. If I’m reading it correctly, it hard to see any actual pattern of “performance enhancement”, particularly in pitchers. Quite a few show deteriorating ERA’s after starting the drugs. Maybe this was something that the desperate turned to as their arms started to go?

  12. Nick Kapur says:

    Tom, charts like that are kind of silly, because these drugs have never been a *guarantee* of a lower ERA or whatever. What they are able to do is allow you to train longer and harder, recover faster from injury, and bounce back better over the long grind of the season. As you say, people did it when they were desperate and going downhill, so whose to day their ERA’s wouldn’t have been even worse without the drugs? And you still have to train right and be careful with the dosages and timing (which is why BALCO customers had all those complicated spreadsheets being kept for them). Barry Bonds blew out his elbow lifting weights the year he started on Steroids because he was trying to bulk up too fast. Random guys just buying a few doses through back channels and not really knowing what they are doing might well have no improvement or actually hurt their performance.

  13. Paul, You make a good point and it’s possible the list was a complete fabrication. I would just suggest that it’s possible the players on the initial list were implicated in some way but didn’t meet Mitchell’s burden of proof. It’s also possible that whoever leaked it just didn’t include all of the names. Hopefully there were at least a few players smart enough to have paid Radomski in cash thus leaving no paper trail. It seemed that the only names listed were ones connected to the Federal investigations of BALCO, Radomski and McNamee. There are other Federal investigations currently taking place which means more names may be forthcoming. No doubt more players had other sources that have yet to be uncovered. In most Latin American countries you can buy steroids off the shelf without a prescription. Sammy Sosa wasn’t in the Mitchell Report but who doubts his use of steroids?

  14. Sarah Green says:

    Tom, I haven’t seen this chart of which you speak, so I will look for it. But I couldn’t wait to include this pertinent quote from Tom Verducci’s article today: “McNamee said he injected the steroids into Clemens’ buttocks after the Jays returned home from a trip to Florida. Up to that point Clemens was 6-6 with a 3.27 ERA. After that he was literally unbeatable: 14-0 with a 2.29 ERA. Think steroids work?”

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