Not a fan of the report at all. It smacks of a overblown, long winded witch hunt. Baseball owners are just as guilty as the players are when it comes to the proliferation of the use of steroids in baseball. Both parties benefited. Neither party was interested in preventing it until there was some outrage about the historical values being toppled the way a toddler pushes over a tower of blocks.
There aren’t really any former Buccos of consequence on the list. For the record, they are: Jason Christiansen, Jose Guillen, Tim Laker, Josias Manzanillo, Gary Matthews, Jr., Denny Neagle, Armando Rios, Benito Santiago, Ron Villone and Kevin Young. Plus Barry Bonds. Not that all of those guys were bad. They aren’t of consequence because none of them helped the Pirates achieve anything other than mediocrity, except for Bonds, who, by all accounts, was clean of steroid use when he fled Pittsburgh after 1992.
I haven’t read the report. I don’t know if I ever will fully read it. But, I did skim the historical portions of the report. For me the interesting thing is The Commissioner’s inability to get any sort of drug violations to stick. From cocaine to marijuana to greenies, nobody was ever severely punished. The Pittsburgh Drug Trials resulted in several names being sullied. But they paid a fine (a portion of their salary) and their careers continued. Fergie Jenkins was picked up by customs crossing into Canada with drugs in his luggage and, upon appeal, was off without any sort of consequence (except perhaps delayed induction into Cooperstown). The player who was punished the most was Steve Howe. He was given who knows how many chances to get his act together but never did. Yet, he always found himself back in uniform. Let me state that I’m all for forgiveness and second chances. But, if the office of the Commissioner is supposed to hold some measure of authority, then at some point, punishment has to be doled out.
Instead what you have is a weak ownership group continually challenged and beaten by the players union. Not just on drugs but on just about anything. And you can trace that right back to the late 1960s when ownership was stupid enough to assume that the players wouldn’t unionize and budged as little as possible on player’s rights. Those short sighted decisions by owners in the late 1960s, in my opinion, strengthened the union so much that any effort to impose rules that punished players for poor behavior (or even poor play in the form of a lower salary) were washed away in arbitration and court rulings throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
The union, it seemed, couldn’t be beat. And the owners adopted the attitude of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” on the steroid issue. It was a cycle. Players took steroids. Offense went up. Baseball’s profits rose. That was good for both players and owners. Players continued to stay on the juice as it was to their financial benefit. Had they even wanted to stop the players the owners couldn’t have, and instead, team’s rode the financial wave all the way to the shores of public outcry. Now we are here. And neither party is innocent.
Taking this a step further, the Mitchell report will do nothing to improve the relationship between the owners and the players. Players will scream “witch hunt” and “hyprocrite” and won’t be wrong. Owners will scream that the players were greedy and were ruining the game. Pot and kettle are both black.
The problem has come to a head, finally. It would have been much better had ownership and players worked on this together. Alas, the seeds of dissent were planted forty years ago. The owners and players are now reaping what they sowed.