Friday, December 14, 2007

What was the point of that?

Major League Baseball finally released its much-ballyhooed "Mitchell Report" chronicling the Steroid Era of baseball. I never really understood what the point of this was, and after seeing the list of names accused of using steroids, I'm even less convinced that this was necessary.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. George Mitchell, the principal investigator is on the board of directors of the Boston Red Sox. How can he even appear to be impartial?

2. Mr. Mitchell didn't have subpoena power, so no one was compelled to talk with him. If fact, many players did not cooperate with the investigation at all.

3. The Lords of Baseball (owners) and Bud the Dud (commissioner) knew this was going on. It is no coincidence that balls began flying out of the park at record clips immediately after the last labor stoppage that cancelled a World Series. The Lords of Baseball needed fans back in the seats and $ in their wallets, so they turned a blind eye toward what was happening. And Bud the Dud seems to have been a willing if not, clueless accomplice. He even held a press conference yesterday and said he had not read the report yet. But he was determined to act. Good plan Bud.

4. Steroids are illegal, but the point of this was not to prosecute. And under the labor agreement with the players union, there was no testing for steroids allowed, and no penalties for use. And using steroids could bring a player enough money to set his grandchildren for life. Great reward and little risk just invites abuse.

5. The only players named were those who someone else threw under the bus. Some of the most prominent names in the era - Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa - are not named. It doesn't mean that they are not guilty of using steroids, it just means that their friends are tight-lipped.

6 Lastly, the naming of the players seems a bit like character assassination of the players. There were no rules, there is no prosecutable evidence, but yet they chose to release what they acknowledge is an incomplete list. Since Mitchell couldn't compel anyone to talk, there is no way this is an exhaustive list. But these guys are now named, and other cheaters move on whistling past the graveyard.

Baseball is the second-worst managed sport around. The National Hockey League is the worst, but gaining quickly on baseball. This is a pathetic attempt to blame the players while the owners and pitiful excuse of a commissioner move on like nothing happened and "put this all behind us."

The sad thing is that I will keep watching. And that is my fault.

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