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Mitchell Report: This is What We Waited For? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 13 December 2007 13:11

Maury BrownExcuse the shortness, and the terse nature of this editorial, but quite frankly, my head hurts.

After reading through a large part of the Mitchell Report today, I have come away with some conclusions:

1) A large majority of it is based currently upon nothing more than hearsay. I understand that Mitchell had no power of subpoena, but if you’re going to hang your hat on something, at least don’t make the majority of it based upon the Radomski testimony.

2) I keep reading and looking for the nugget. The recommendations are all good and well, but where are the examples of failure in the system? Yes, it is referenced, but if Mitchell could not investigate the players via the power of subpoena, he could have expended some energy in looking at the cause more closely. Where are those quotes? Where is that interview material?

Mitchell states:

115,000 pages of documents from the Commissioner’s Office and the thirty clubs and over 20,000 electronic documents that were retrieved from the computer systems of the Commissioner’s Office and some of the clubs.

Then you use quotes from Hooton?!? Where are those details? Where is something on what you found from that mountain of artifacts?

To add insult to injury, Commissioner Selig issued the following:

“I want to thank Senator Mitchell and his team of investigators for the exhaustive effort they made in tracing the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball. Twenty-one months ago, when I asked Senator Mitchell to undertake this assignment, I said that nothing is more important to me than the integrity

of this game. I knew it was important for Baseball to face the issue of steroids head on. Senator Mitchell had complete autonomy to pursue the evidence wherever it led and he has done so.

“If there were problems, I wanted them revealed. If there were individuals who engaged in wrongdoing, I wanted those facts to come to light. If there were recommendations that would improve our drug testing program, I wanted to hear them.

“Senator Mitchell is one of the most respected public figures in the nation. His career in public service – as the Senate Majority Leader, Federal Judge, U.S. Attorney, and the leading international diplomat of our generation – is exceptional. He is a man of integrity.

“His report is a call to action. And I will act.

“I will continue to deal with the issue of performance-enhancing substance abuse. Today I announce that we will take the following three steps.

“First … Senator Mitchell has made twenty recommendations, all of which I embrace. In fact, we have already adopted one of the recommendations and have eliminated the 24-hour notice that testers were giving clubs. Those recommendations that I can implement independently, I will do immediately. There are other recommendations that are subject to collective bargaining. I am also committed to those recommendations, and we will be reaching out to Don Fehr and the Players Association in the immediate future to urge him to join me in accepting them and to begin a positive dialogue on these matters.

“Second… I will deal with the active players identified by Senator Mitchell as users of performance-enhancing substances. I will also review the comments made by Senator Mitchell about club personnel and will take appropriate action. Senator Mitchell acknowledges in his report that the ultimate decisions on discipline rest with the Commissioner and he is correct. Discipline of players and others identified in the report will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly and I, of course, will give thorough consideration to Senator Mitchell’s views on the subject.

“And third… I will continue to be proactive about proposing new ways to detect and rid our sport of the use of performance-enhancing substances. Senator Mitchell has found that our present testing program is, effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined.”

Baseball currently has the most aggressive drug program in professional sports, banning steroids, amphetamines, and human growth hormone, and imposing the stiffest penalties for use. We have been testing in the minor leagues for seven seasons. We are also taking part in major campaigns with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Taylor Hooton Foundation to educate America’s youth and their parents about the dangers of performance-enhancing substances. Just this week, the Partnership for a Drug Free America announced that steroid use among youngsters is down. I’m proud of the role Major League Baseball has played in contributing to this decline.

“But as Senator Mitchell’s report reveals, these efforts are not enough. Players who are set on cheating have apparently moved from steroids to HgH. As we previously announced, we, along with the National Football League, are funding Dr. Don Catlin in his efforts to find a valid urine test for Human Growth Hormone. We will do more to combat the use of HgH and to investigate and detect new substances. We will announce shortly an HgH summit to bring together the best minds in sports and science whose mission will be to fight and detect this undetectable substance.

“I would like to thank all of those who cooperated with Senator Mitchell’s investigation – from clubhouse attendants, to the owners, to doctors, writers and law enforcement. It is the forthright voices of these people that enabled Senator Mitchell to get to the bottom of questions of steroid use and make the findings that he did. And, of course, I want to thank Senator Mitchell and his staff for their dedication and hard work and perseverance in investigating and making this report.

“Baseball is America’s pastime because of the trust placed in this sport by its fans. And I’m proud to say Baseball has never been more popular. Our attendance continues to break records, year after year, and our fans continue to love the game. But our fans deserve a game that is played on a level playing field – where all who compete do so fairly.

“So long as there may be potential cheaters, we will always have to monitor our programs and constantly update them to catch those who think they can get away with breaking Baseball’s rules.

“In the name of integrity, that’s exactly what I intend to do. As we implement the Senator’s recommendations, we will do even more. We will not rest. Major League Baseball remains committed to this cause and to the effort to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing substances from the game.”

Well, Commissioner Selig, thanks for standing up there and taking accountability for this fine mess that you and the MLBPA got us into. Thanks, also, for commissioning a report that does nothing more than create a mountain of lawsuits, and grievances. Sadly, you failed to look in the mirror, and do what you asked of the players: “Come clean. Just tells us the truth, and all will be fine. We just want your cooperation.”

The wretched, galling truth is, the whole stack of paper does nothing more than point fingers at the players, and MLBPA, and create one heck of a great time when the current labor agreement expires. Or, you could get your wish and open up the current agreement (again) and get into it now.

Mitchell whitewashed how we got to the problem in favor of offering solutions that bode well politically for management, while offering a short, passing blame on those watching the store. And, the pablum of the statement released by Selig adds to the damning incident.

But, hey, you got a nice bit of something to stand on the soapbox when you  stuck the "Partnership for a Drug Free America PR" in. "Steroid use among youngsters is down. I’m proud of the role Major League Baseball has played in contributing to this decline." Are you serious? You created the monster in the first place.

Oh, and one more thing… You went to a press conference on the Report without reading it? You did have three days. Maybe it wasn’t that important to get to the heart of the matter knowing you were off the hook.

 Back to reading the migraine. I just caught a mistake in the footnotes (It's Dwight "Jaynes", not "James"). Isn't that analogous to the whole affair today?


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available writer for other media outlets.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
 
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