Thoughts on Mitchell and the History of Drugs in Baseball

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.

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5 Responses to “Thoughts on Mitchell and the History of Drugs in Baseball”

  1. David Hannes Says:

    I agree that the report is lacking…but we all knew it had to be, as none of the owners and only one active player would provide anything resembling full disclosure. Most of the evidence is tangential–there were shipments and deliveries, and heresay. Other than the testimony saying somone actually saw someone else shoot up, the rest is vague and incomplete.
    But…something is better than nothing. I think there is enough evidence, albeit circumstantial for the most part, that steroids, and then HGH, was being used and getting out of hand. Something needed to be done , if only for the players’ long-term health. A 22 year-old rookie sees a 29 year-old, $10 million per year, 50 home run hitter shooting up in his walk year and starts to believe he needs to travel the same path if he ever wants to get there. Before you know it, he winds up like Lyle Alzado or Ken Caminiti. Many still make that choice, knowing the likely consequences.
    The positives from yesterday–only a handful of players have done it, and the increased focus should help reduce that percentage even more.

  2. Randy Says:

    I agree that something is better than nothing and that something certainly had to be done. I was hopeful for something a tad more concise and to the point.
    Even more, I was hoping for a group effort. What is bad/sad about this is that ownership and players couldn’t work together on this. The two parties are so at odds and the union is so much stronger that the Commish felt that a report based on tangential evidence and heresay (as you pointed out so correctly) was his best choice for trying to move past all the mess.

  3. sludgeworm Says:

    Sorry guys…this is not the end but just the beginning. Without Kirk Radomski falling into Mitchell’s lap, this report is basically Balco and nothing else. That means there are hundreds of more users who have not been caught.
    The next step will be the fallout from “Operation Raw Deal” which an FBI agent said they have hundreds of thousands of customer names.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=jo-steroids092407&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
    Drug testing only works if you can get caught. HGH and designer PED have no accurate test to use for enforcement so cheaters continue to cheat and all you need to do is look at the NFL. Probably 90% of lineman have used PED…just my opinion.
    I have stated in another forum that I would not be surprised if 80 % of all ballplayers had done PED at one time or another and the Mitchell Report has done nothing to change my mind.
    I agree with you Mr Linville, this is the only way the owners can put the hammer to the union and players. A PR campaign to raise the ire of Joe Q Fan …

  4. sludgeworm Says:

    Sorry guys…this is not the end but just the beginning. Without Kirk Radomski falling into Mitchell’s lap, this report is basically Balco and nothing else. That means there are hundreds of more users who have not been caught.
    The next step will be the fallout from “Operation Raw Deal” which an FBI agent said they have hundreds of thousands of customer names.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=jo-steroids092407&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
    Drug testing only works if you can get caught. HGH and designer PED have no accurate test to use for enforcement so cheaters continue to cheat and all you need to do is look at the NFL. Probably 90% of lineman have used PED…just my opinion.
    I have stated in another forum that I would not be surprised if 80 % of all ballplayers had done PED at one time or another and the Mitchell Report has done nothing to change my mind.
    I agree with you Mr Linville, this is the only way the owners can put the hammer to the union and players. A PR campaign to raise the ire of Joe Q Fan …

  5. Randy Says:

    Good points, sludgworm.
    This report is really the first shot in a long game. Its an end, to some extent, of rampant speculation and the haphazard catching of people who were stupid enough to get caught by the drug testing procedure.
    And I agree, as you pointed out, that without one man, this report is basically like reading Game of Shadows. There are a number of players who are breathing a big sigh of relief because they undoubtedly were using, but MLB had nobody to make an accusation against them, substantial or otherwise. The list in this report is by no means a full accounting of all the players who took advantage of baseball’s lax PED policy (or outright cheated depending on your point of view).


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