Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gripes: The Mitchell Report

Remember when you were a kid and you dropped a relative's favorite keepsake, shattering its priceless form amidst a quiet family get-together? Your parents stopped, threw you a razor sharp glare and told you in that after-school-special tone, "We're not mad. . . We're just disappointed."

I have similar feelings toward the steroid report.

It's not that I disagree with its allegations, it's just how it was presented.

Yesterday, the steroid tour traveled to Capitol Hill so George Mitchell and assembled United States Congressmen could pat each other on the back - joined by a suddenly exonerated Bud Selig. The group proceeded to spend 4+ hours telling us things we already knew. The only fresh material were the name tags of Senators hoping to have their name ring out thanks to major league baseball's inability to police itself.

My gripes begin with the trivial, though it is a simple matter of "truthfulness." A word Mitchell throws around a lot. When Sen. Mitchell appeared before the circus committee and was asked if the report would have changed had Brian McNamee's "testimony" not been included, the senator fed stock answers everyone in the room secretly laughed at.

Without McNamee, we all know there would not be Roger Clemens. And without Clemens included in the investigation, we all know there would be no Mitchell Report. All Mitchell would admit is that the report would have been "different." This is politician speak at its finest. Phrases like "I do not recall" and "I cannot say for sure" were invented for these very moments and these very men.

C'mon George. This isn't Rocket science [pun intended]. No Roger, no cache. No cache means Mitchell coming to Selig with empty pockets trying peddle Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts. Save us the bull and just admit the report would have suffered greatly had Rocket's former trainer not implicated previously considered the greatest pitcher of his generation.

Of the report's shortcomings, what bothered me the most was the acceptance of this report in its absolutely incomplete form. We all understand steroids became widespread over the past twenty years, even employed by the game's greatest players.

If Mitchell were only able to nab two trainers in Los Angeles whose biggest clients were Luis Gonzalez and Ryan Klesko along with an army of lesser known replacement-level players, would the same type of dog-and-pony show go on? Would everyone, including the commissioner who turned a blind eye to supposed epidemic levels of PED use, be patting each other on the back?... in the nation's capital?... televised for a national audience? I think not.

One would think Mitchell would realize a report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball should not begin and end in one city. The point is not that Mitchell should have spent 25 years compiling every PED user and distributor in baseball. But, if you can only reveal two sources based in one city, a little further research is probably necessary.

It's also not this Yankee blogger's contention that a "proper" report would require the inclusion of a steroids pusher or player based in Boston. But, hey, maybe a flight to LA could have helped develop a report forcing its readers to think of words like comprehensive, leaguewide, or objective. These are all adjectives which I have a hard time using to describe the report.

When a US senator happens to leave off any players from the team he works for in its front office, that's one thing. When the Rangers and Brewers - teams formerly owned by the President of the United States and Commissioner Bud Selig respectively - are not included as well, then it becomes a bit suspicious.

But, hey, they got Clemens and that's all Mitchell, Selig and the grandstanding group of politicians needed for their performance.

6 comments:

Soxxy Lady said...

Just because Clemens got caught does not mean you have to be sour grabes about it. I understand that Roger Clemens get Yankee fans all mushy down deep inside but the rest of baseball isn't going to be apologetic simply because he plays for the Yankees. Too bad you prove to be just another Yankee apologist unable to deal with your team's cheaters. That team never would have won a thing without all those cheaters runnign around.

Anonymous said...

moron: the post said that he was not asking for a red sox player be part of the report in orer for it to be considerd reputable. i agree that he needed more then just 2 nyc guys to be taken serious. otherwise it looks like the ny report

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for someone to explain why the Federal Government felt compelled to get involved in a private corporations investigation.
Maybe their energy and resources might be better served doing something to figure out why my health insurance costs me $900 a month and kids have to mortgage their futures to go to college. Those would be many of the same children that Congress feels the need to save from the "scourge of steroids".

randy l. said...

good to see you over at peter a.'s blog. i'm sure some people will follow you back here.

three things jumped out at me watching the hearings.
number one was that mitchell not only rushed the report with an incomplete job, but he didn't even clear his schedule to give the congressional hearing his full attention. he had a train to catch and members of congress had to rush their questions.
number two was that ritalin is a sore spot with mitchell and selig. it's a ped that is a product by big pharma. why weren't stimulants investigated in the mitchell report?
number three is mitchell got especially animated when answering questions about clemens. he clearly is defensive over challenges to his over dependence on mcnamee.

Tom Wayburn said...

The following is a copy of a letter I wrote to the Houston Chronicle on January 7th, 2008:

In 1989, shortly after an Olympic runner was stripped of his gold medal, I wrote an analysis of the steroid problem in a paper for the American Drug Policy Institute of Washington, D.C., entitled “The Case for Drug Legalization and Decontrol in the United States” now available at http://tinyurl.com/yoq8uq. At that time, I observed that Athlete A holds the world record for the 100 meter race, but everyone, including A himself, knows that athlete B actually ran the race faster, not with a machine but with his own body. It appears, then, that the banning of steroids is as absurd as the banning of other drugs.

But, competitions that encourage or require participants, if they want to be the world's best, to risk their health and their lives are unethical. It is even worse to force someone to take something he really doesn't want to take than it is to forbid someone to take something he wants to take. So, the realities of professional sports and world-class amateur sports are even more unfair than the laws against drugs. Thus, the Olympic Games, professional and college football, even high-school football, and many other activities that have grown to be national and international institutions should not be encouraged. (I do not favor the passing of even more laws; boycotts and non-participation by governments should be sufficient.) There is no doubt that the seriousness with which athletes and the general public treat athletic competition has reached the point where all types of absurdities are commonplace. One wonders whether friendly competition of a local nature, the results of which are not reported by the media, might someday supplant the current madness.

About eighteen years after that was written, another solution that spares the sport occurred to me. Simply ban commercials on TV. That would take most of the money out of sports and reduce the temptation to risk ones life for money. The other benefits overwhelm the benefit to athletes. It would moderate the exorbitant salaries paid within the entertainment industry and return TV to what it could have been all along – a useful and entertaining source of information, education, and fun. In addition, it would reduce over-consumption, which would go a little way toward saving the planet.

Bronx Liaison said...

Wow.

While I thank you for your comment Tom, and though I don't agree with all of them, I must say you bring up interesting points.

I completely agree with the idea that athletes are grossly overpaid. I was raised by a teacher, one of my closest relatives is a high-ranking officer in the armed forces who will soon leave his newborn child for the second time to fight in Iraq. These types of occupations - the teaching and defending of our countrymen - should be amongst the highest paid positions on the planet.

Taking away commercials and, by extension, astronomical contracts to professional athletes would be nice and probably erase the motivations for shooting death into their veins. However, we both know this will never happen.

Deemphasizing these transgressions may have to be done through law enforcement, though I would love to see such punishment come in a more private and less disengenuous arena than a room filled with grandstanding politicians.