Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell Report - Steroids in Baseball & Sports

I won't claim to know a whole lot about Senator Mitchell, nor do I have much understanding of the report, however, today is the day that the report is released. David Pinto over at Baseball Musings writes an interesting piece summarizing an article from It is ideas such as these that worry me as to the credibility or really, the rationale behind this investigation. That is, say I had a personal trainer whom I trusted, however things didn't work out for whatever reason and was forced to fire this trainer. If the Mitchell investigation was satisfied with hearsay, what is to stop a disgruntled ex-employee from 'making up' some facts about me? Now I assume the investigation went a little further then that, but for arguments sake, we really don't know (at least yet).

Essentially, Senator Mitchell is retroactively investigating which players used steroids at a point when steroids were not against the rules of baseball. I'm not certain what relevance I see, or how the naming of names can fix the steroid problem that is(or was) in baseball, but I suppose it was the threat of the investigation that brought upon Bud Selig and the MLBPA's decision to hand out more intense punishments - or a punishment at all. So we are about 10 minutes from the official hearing and Baseball Digest Daily has released names that they have gathered. Names highlighted on this list include:
Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Rafael Bettancourt, Milton Bradley, Albert Belle, Paul Byrd, Ken Caminiti, Mike Cameron, Ramon Castro, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Lenny Dykstra, Johnny Damon, Ryan Franklin, Troy Glaus, Jason Grimsley, Juan Gonzalez, Eric Gagne, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Jose Guillen, Jay Gibbons, Clay Hensley, Darryl Kile, Matt Lawton, Raul Mondesi, Mark McGwire, Guillermo Mota, Andy Pettitte, Mark Prior, Neifi Perez, Rafael Palmiero, Albert Pujols, Brian Roberts, Juan Rincon, John Rocker, Pudge Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Alex Sanchez, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada and Julian Taveras.
Many of the names come as no surprise given some of the players had already received a suspension (Betancourt, Franklin, Guillen, Gibbons, Lawton, Perez, Palmiero). Others were always going about things with a cloud of suspicion over their heads (Bonds, Belle, Sheffield, Tejada, Pettitte, Clemens, Prior). Some had even admitted to taking a substance prior to the substance being banned by the majors (Byrd, Giambi, Grimsley).

In terms of my take on performance enhancing drugs (PED's), I am at a loss. On one hand I recognize that it does cloud this era of what has been record setting baseball - both financially and historically - on the other hand, I agree with Todd McFarlane who states that if he was offered a pill that would have gotten him into professional baseball, he would have said, "I'll take two." I will revisit this issue later, as it is time for the hearing, check out an article by John Brittain over at The Hardball Times here.

Update - 12/13/07 - 5:24PM EST
So the cat (or cats) are officially out of the bag. As expected, the report appears to be full of flaws and lacking meaningful premise. ESPN has had experts (both in baseball and in law) analyze what they can of the report (found here). I can't understand how an investigation headed by a Senator would focus on the opinion and recollections of trainings, strength and conditioning coaches, etc. Possibly I have a skewed opinion and I don't want to see things for what they are, or, maybe the case against the players just don't seem that strong. Why, if it was, would the Senator suggest not retroactively punishing the players for this? Does he too believe the case is not strong enough. It will be interesting to hear how the Players Association reacts to said charges.

One of the most interesting opinions came from John Kruk's mouth. Kruk said that he did not understand why players who were out of baseball were named in the report if the objective of the report was to move forward. Lets see how things pan out over the next couple of days. What do you think is going to happen?

Update - 12/14/07 - 12:29AM EST
With more information becoming available, opinions being posted and ideas of what will happen thrown around, I wanted to figure out: "Who is Kirk Radomski?" Here is a section from USA Today in late May:
"Even with baseball's drug-testing program up and running, selling steroids to major leaguers was still profitable enough for Kirk Radomski to put in a pool behind his Long Island house and a pair of pricey cars on the driveway. Although those expenses barely amounted to more than walking-around money for most of his customers, real cops learned long ago that sometimes the best way to build a big case is to start small.
Neighbors thought Radomski was some kind of athletic trainer, and one of them told The New York Times that grown-ups and children alike referred to him as the Hulk. The feds, though, already suspected Radomski as the supplier of performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of current and former players when they showed up at his door in December 2005 with a search warrant."
So essentially, as the baseball public, we are to trust a drug dealer? I thought this whole investigation was fishy to begin with. I was curious as to why they choose to investigate MLB instead of say, Hollywood. I can understand that there is a steroid issue in North America, but is it more prevalent than other drugs? What about violence? DWI? Whatever happens in the coming days will only occur because of how public this issue has gotten and the names of many of MLB's stars are now tarnished - some, whom would be considered the best all-time. I find it a shame that this is going to occur simply because of what two men who were looking down the barrel of a loaded gun said.

Another concern I have in this situation is why they named the names of the players who purchased (maybe) PED's from Radomski? This would be like the Colombian government searching out Pablo Escobar in search of those who he sold cocaine to in the 70's and 80's. That is to say, since when is the government more concerned with the taking of drugs over the selling of drugs?

Update 12/15/07 - 4:15pm
Finally, a satirical response from the baseball community. Baseball Prospectus writer Jim Baker chimes in with an excellent - albeit "premium" - article summarizing the Mitchell Report. Here are some highlights of his highlights from the report:

"Bolivar Hudson
Bolivar Hudson was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a 14-year-old in 1998. He has been in their instructional program since that time.

Radomski produced a check from Hudson dated November 1, 1998 that covered the cost of two human growth hormone kits. It was written in crayon and decorated with Hot Wheels stickers."

"Danny Scaldoy

Danny Scaldoy pitched several innings in the Phillies chain in 2002.

Scaldoy became interested in self-improvement when he met professional bowler Lawrence Terlecky, a.k.a. “Larry the Leaner.” Terlecky is known around the PBA for his pronounced asymmetry--he's so large is his right side that he must carry a 25-pound dumbbell in his left hand for balance. Scaldoy befriended Terlecky and the two trained together in a program that included purchases of equine growth hormone and the consumption of baboon parts. Within a year, Scaldoy’s pitching arm and shoulder were huge, so much so that he was forced to steal a cart from the A.V. department of a nearby high school so that he could rest his arm on it while walking, lest its weight topple him sideways. The desired increase in pitching speed did not coincide with this increase in size, as evidenced by his 9.68 ERA and subsequent release."

There is nothing wrong with a little fun, especially with this issue which seems to be stirring up a flight or fight response. The flight being those who have completed disregarded the report, the fight being those who apparently feel justified in calling the report factual - well done media!

1 comment:

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