The Mitchell Report: Bad For Baseball
My personal idols like Barry and Clemens, and fan favorites like Miguel Tejada, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire, all finally taken down by a bunch of old, rich white guys who never played the game (ahem: Mitchell, Selig, Congress, Fairnu-Wada, San Francisco Chronicle, Dutton/Gotham books, SF District Federal Court). In fact, the only guy who wasn't an "old rich white guy who never played" was Jose Canseco, who incidentally goes under the description "piece of shit turncoat".
As you can tell by my tone, I unconditionally condemn this report as unnecessary, libelous, slanderous, absurd, inconclusive, and unsubstantiated. This report would not hold up in a court of law, not even the liberal activist-judge run 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
"OBJECTION YOUR HONOR: HEARSAY!"
"SUSTAINED! AMERICA WILL DISREGARD THIS REPORT AND IT WILL BE STRICKEN FROM THE RECORD!"
I've watched Liar Liar and Law & Order SVU enough to know that that is the way it would go down.
Basically, I am of the opinion that this "Mitchell Report" is bad for baseball, and here's why:
1) Trust: Entire cities and millions of fans feel cheated. They are confused, angry, and don't know who to blame. Some fickle and self-righteous fans will leave the game on their high horses never to return. Postseason runs and records will be questioned, and those who played the game clean will be questioned along with those who used enhancers (I refuse to use the term cheating, because this happened very rarely in my opinion)
2) Ruined Reputations: Guys who have dedicated their lives to baseball and done things 85% right may have made one mistake, and now their lives are ruined. I liken this to the regular guy who weakly gives in to his desires and curiosity and goes to a brothel or prostitute, only to be busted by a U.C. or a raid. One little mistake and your reputation and your life is called into question. Was he taking HGH during the World Series when he hit that home run? Was he stabbing needles into his ass before he tossed that no-hitter? Do we consider FP Santangelo, Benito Santiago, and Kent Mercker sons or bitches, lowlifes, cheaters, and bastards? Wifebeaters and drug dealers get off easier everyday than these baseball players who were the victims of a haphazard second-hand report.
3) Naming Names: Big mistake. Now that we have 10% of the guys who used enhancers, we can pin the steroid culture squarely on their shoulders and their families' shoulders. Apparently, they were the only ones doing it, and it doesn't differentiate between when, how, and how many times, but they are officially labeled nonetheless. Do they deserve it? Maybe. That remains to be seen. What's not fair about it is that none of these guys gets their day in court. This entire report was a blanket statement, a generalization, and it may come back to bite them. George Mitchell better be damn sure that he's got hard evidence, receipts, multiple eye witnesses, and biologicals to prove that these guys used stuff, or he is going down in flames. Out of those 80+ names on that list, there's probably a combined $600-800 million in combined resources, and many of them will sue Mitchell, Selig, and MLB for a lot of money. Slander and libel are serious charges, and the hearsay and circumstantial evidence from a sleazy clubhouse gofer from Queens will not stand up in a court of law. This holier than thou bullshit will not last long Mitchell and Selig.
4) Circumstances: Although they probably have detailed scenarios and tall tales about each player in "The Report", does it differentiate between the guys who bought and apparently used it during the season, while healthy, and the guys rehabbing from serious injury, surgery, and other career-threatning ailments? I refuse to read the report, but I doubt it. If my career was in jeopardy, and my family's and my livelihood was at stake, you better damn well know that I'd do anything to get back on the field and back under contract. If that means working my ass off rehabbing, I would, and if HGH would help me get on the field quicker, I'd do that too. The level of competition and the stakes are far to high to take any chances. The guy who wasn't using might be the guy out of a job, and you just can't take that risk, especially with no foreseen consequences. (None of this stuff was specifically against the rules during these times).
In addition, if I went through the entire list of names (which I'm going to do..... now... hold on...), I could tell you off the top of my head, that roughly half of them probably sought the help of enhancers while trying to come back from serious injury. Here's a short list: Jason Christiansen, Eric Gagne, Todd Hundley, Kent Mercker, Denny Neagle, Mo Vaughn, Rondell White, Rick Ankiel, Paul Byrd, Jay Gibbons, Troy Glaus, Jose Guillen, John Rocker, Scott Schowenweis, Matt Williams, Benito Santiago. That's off the top of my head. I know for a fact that these guys have all had serious injuries, and if they used HGH to try to come back from them, I have no problem with that. Has George Mitchell tried to play with a frayed labrum in his throwing shoulder like Jose Guillen? Has he had a severe ankle injury like Matt Williams. Has he had ligament replacement surgery in his elbow and a torn ACL like Rick Ankiel? Has he almost lost everything like Kent Mercker, and somehow come back for a few years? The answer is no. And I'm trying not to sanctify these guys. They still did a very risky and questionable thing, but everyone else was doing it too...
5) Not everyone was named: Okay, if you wanna name names, here's a few that weren't on the list that I have my suspicions about: Eric Davis, Ron Gant, Bret Boone, Greg Vaughn, Mitch Williams, John Kruk, Pete Incaviglia, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Bobby Bonilla, Rob Dibble, Jason Isringhausen, Jay Buhner, Roberto Hernandez, Tino Martinez, Henry Rodriguez, Derek Bell, Jay Bell, Danny Tartabull, Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer, Jeff Bagwell, Brian Jordan, Reggie Sanders, Jose Mesa, Ricky Botallico, El Duque Hernandez, Dean Palmer, Phil Plantier, Billy Koch, Damion Easley, and the worst of the worst: Brady Anderson.
See how easy that was? I wrote that from rote. I named names. How many of those guys used stuff? I don't know, and I can't prove it. It's purely visual and circumstantial, but I talked to Bobby Bonilla's ex-limo driver who happens to have a grudge against his ex-client and happens to be a convicted felon.
Okay, so I didn't talk to that guy, but that's where the bulk of the information came from! Some loser who threw people under the bus to save his own ass! It came from some scumbag that got coffee for John Franco (black, one Sweet & Low, one Equal) and warmed up the athletic supporter for Mike Piazza before the "Pizza Man" shoved it down his pants and got his catchers gear on. A CLUBHOUSE BITCH! NOW A CLUBHOUSE SNITCH! The guy is no better than a common crack dealer, ambulance chaser, or Democratic Congressman/woman (haha, gotta love that!). Yet this was the guy that 50%+ of the information came from.
All that being said, it's hard for me not to be disappointed that these players are caught up in this. I have almost finally accepted that Bonds may have taken some stuff. I still don't care, because he's done more for the city of San Francisco than Mitchell, Selig, and Fairnu-Wada have ever done in their lives combined (as I detail here: http://dantheman85x.blogspot.com/2006_12_09_archive.html ) (and for the record that's a former Senator, the Commissioner of MLB, and a controversial reporter for a major newspaper and bestselling sleaze merchant-- I mean author). I will always idolize Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens will be the best pitcher of my childhood and early adulthood. I will always respect Andy Pettitte for his skill and for the way he carries himself, and I will never forget the way Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa SINGLE-HANDEDLY BROUGHT BASEBALL BACK FROM THE DEAD IN 1998! LEST WE FORGET! I'll never forget racing home from school to watch them trying to beat a record, and then finally obliterating it. I'll never forget my hero doing the same thing for my team, as a jealous country rooted against him. And every time I go to the batting cage, I take a few swings pretending to be Gary Sheffield with that menacing hitch and lightning quick strike through the zone.
It's hard to look back and try to comprehend what may have been altered by the use of enhancers. Everyone is now a suspect, and people are wondering whether they should just dismiss it all as bogus and enhanced. I plead with you not to. Steroids didn't make that catch, and a giant syringe didn't hit that homer to win the game. Those were still the players. They were already good. They were professional athletes who didn't get there by a magic potion all the sudden. Also, it was simply too widespread to dismiss it all. People talk about an unequal playing field... How unequal was it when Kevin Brown threw a fastball to Mark McGwire? For all the guys who never touched it, God bless 'em. They are class acts. And the guys who gave into their desires and curiosity, well, sorry you got outed, but it was a chance you were willing to take, and it probably worked out for you in the long run.
One quick note before I wrap this up. Shame on ESPN. They've really crossed the line into yellow journalism and sensationalism. I have a problem with the fact that they feel that it's their duty to give us non-stop coverage of this crap like it's President Bush telling the nation that we're going to war. I also resent the fact that they assigned Pedro Gomez to harass Bonds for two full seasons, and then hired his personal slanderer, Fairnu-Wada to be their "investigative reporter", when he and I both know he was brought in to take down Bonds on TV for SportsCenter ratings. I've probably watched thousands of hours of ESPN in my day (sickening really, but 365 days a year, an average of half an hour a day for 10 years... go figure), but I will be forced to cut down on it if they keep shoving this garbage down our collective throat.
It is a sad day in America. The very foundation of the sports world was shaken, and our confidence in it as well. I won't get into the double standard between the NFL and Baseball, nor will I get into the ex-ballplayers from the 70s and 80s who want records and stats stricken. Most of these guys didn't even bother to lift weights, keep in shape, and their idea of the regular season was smoking cigarettes in the bullpen, drinking in the clubhouse before games, throwing sandpapered spitballs, and taking amphetamines just to get their hungover asses into the game. They're the ones who really cheated the game. Regardless of what side you're on, you have to feel badly about all this in some respect.
In the 5 minutes of discussion yesterday that I saw between Karl Ravich, Steve Phillips and John Kruk, Kruk's face said it all. His head was down, he was shocked, expressionless, and saddened. His good friend Lenny Dykstra was outed and defamed, and he may have felt pangs of guilt himself... The baseball fraternity has been shaken to its very being, and I guarantee it will not make the same mistakes again.
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Until next time...
Labels: Mitchell Report