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What Does The Mitchell Report Accomplish?

Dave MillsFriday, December 14, 2007
By Dave Mills

Controversy swirls and speculation abounds. Some of what is being written and said is a bit off-the-wall, yet expected.

The 409-page report is basically built around former Met clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and a painfully obvious effort to limit his own legal exposure and reduce his punishment. Most importantly, these are only allegations. Certainly, there must be at least one player named who may well be innocent.

But the real dose of reality is that many of the substances available only through medical prescription in the US are readily available over-the-counter in many other countries.

Mitchell, a man of significant background and integrity, also recommends no player or club personnel be punished.

So, what is the point?

There is no point, except to produce a dog and pony show. As Mitchell indicates, there is plenty of blame to go around starting with the commissioner's office and trickling down through every owner, ballclub, clubhouse, coach, player and the player's union. Even fans deserve some blame as they cheered on the prodigious blasts and speed gun-worthy pitches.

We can easily surmise that there were others, like Radomski and BALCO, supplying these substances to players who were not brought to light in this report, and yet other players who can go out and get the stuff in their own countries in a perfectly legal manner. Additionally, there is no test commercially available for the Human Growth Hormone ("HGH"), which appears to be the latest substance of choice. The Mitchell list is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

This is a textbook lesson in civics and life. It shows the dark side of human beings, who will put their physical health in jeopardy for riches (or just a job). It shows greed and avarice in all of us, as we all love to see and sing the praises of long HRs and 98 MPH fastballs. And it reminds us that we are always responsible for the tone we set for the young and impressionable in our midst.

Providing for a fair hearing, baseball should suspend every one of the active players named in the report for at least 50 days, as others who have previously been suspended have experienced, and issue a stern warning that any of these players found acquiring or using banned substances in the future will be banned from Major League Baseball permanently, a la Pete Rose.

Interestingly enough, as bad as Rose's indiscretions, it appears he never bet against his own team. As a result, his sins, as bad as they were, did not change the outcome of games or alter the record books. Yet, Pete Rose, one of the greatest players ever to play the game, is banned for life.

The message must be delivered and delivered powerfully. Then, it must all be laid to rest as Mitchell seems to suggest. There are no prosecutions necessary. Every one of these players has been disgraced and will also live with the physical consequences of what they put into their bodies.


A few other observations:

Paul LoDuca
No doubt about it, the Mets knew what was coming. Even if they were not interested in LoDuca for defensive or other reasons, Omar has been a classic obfuscator when it comes to the reasons the Mets did not reach out to Paul. Fact is, he couldn't give an honest answer, so he didn't give any answer at all.

The Mets can't really be blamed for wanting to distance themselves from this controversy. Various LoDuca issues had been front and center for the two years he was a Met. For several months in the middle of a wonderful run in 2006, the papers were all over LoDuca on his divorce, alleged horse racing debts, his young girlfriend and other non-baseball issues. And in NY, those types of things, whether they are relevant or not, are magnified way beyond just being a slight distraction.

Moreover, LoDuca was not getting any younger and his admirable gung-ho style is not suited to a guy in his mid-30s, who often needs to rest and heal. As much as Met fans seemed to support the idea of bringing Paul back, their two receivers now are both 31 years of age, far better defensively and hit from opposite sides of the plate. And neither is going to complain about a fairly strict platoon, which will play to both their strengths, offer necessary rest in this grueling modern game with one day off every two weeks, and help the team!

LoDuca will have to deal with the steroid issue from Washington, with its far smaller media contingent, and the Mets backstops will cumulatively make less errors, throw out more runners, drive in more runs and hit more HRs, but with a lesser batting average.

The one thing that is almost impossible for anyone to answer, if not with the team, is how pitchers liked working with LoDuca. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that some did not and others were ambivalent.

Nonetheless, the Mets knew what was coming down in the Mitchell Report and decided the distraction was not worth it to them and perhaps even to LoDuca.

Was the 2000 World Series tainted?

Mets Refugees blog has an interesting post, which begins, as follows:

Food for thought: Four members of the 2000 Yankees pitching staff turned up in the Mitchell Report (Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Stanton and Denny Neagle).

In the 2000 World Series, those four combined for 30.2 IP, 5 ER, and a 1.46 ERA The rest of the Yankee staff combined for 16.1 IP, 9 ER and a 4.95 ERA.

The rest of the post is just a fascinating. In particular, their statistical analysis of Roger Clemens to 33 years of age and after 33 years of age versus two of the other great righties of crossover eras--Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver.

This not meant to be soreloserish, rather it raises interesting and perhaps sobering questions about the effect of these substances on the game.

How 'bout that last-minute activity the past few days?
Among others, on Wednesday we saw LoDuca signing with the Nats, Miguel Tejada dealt, Eric Gagne signing for mucho dinero and Brendan Donnelley non-tendered. Think the report had any impact in those moves?

Our Boys
While the Highlanders and Dodgers seem to lead the pack to a certain degree, the Mets were amply represented in the report. Bear in mind, it appears there were no greater than three or four Mets here on any given Mets team. Allegedly, as many as 11 substance abusers were on LA's 2000 roster. Here are players named who put on a Mets uniform during their career: Lenny Dykstra
Todd Hundley
Paul LoDuca
Todd Pratt
Matt Franco
Mark Carreon
Chris Donnels
Manny Alexander
Fernando Vina
Mo Vaughn
David Segui
Gary Mathews Jr.
Scott Schoeneweis
Mike Stanton
Paul Byrd
Josias Manzanillo

Of course, dozens of Highlander fans are already claiming Mitchell, a member of the Boston Red Sox Board of Directors, is partial to the Red Sox and purposely persecuting the Bronx. Perhaps this is a perfect place to close!

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

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Comments (8)

Dave - I believe Mitchell's role with the Sawx has nothing to do with the decidedly Noo Yawk flavor of this list. This list is nothing more than the client list of one steroids dealer who worked out of Queens.

Had they found a clubhouse in, say, Oakland, there'd be a different dude with a different list with plenty of A's and Giants on it. Perhaps one day they'll find that guy. Perhaps not. Radomski was most likely one of dozens of guys with ties to a team who got their product to their customers as quietly as possible. He just got caught. You're right - this is one nasty iceberg.

Those who do not learn from Lyle Alzado are doomed to repeat his mistakes.

I agree with you Dennis. I wrote that last ditty just to point out the absurdity of the Highlander fans arguments. Mitchell showed guts and integrity by simply presenting a well researched and laid out report under the worst of circumstances. He had no subpeona power, no ability to deliver immunity and no specific charge as to exactly what he was supposed to do. Yet, Mitchell suggests no ramifications for those who obtained or used performance enhancers. You are correct, the NFL has been overlooking steroid, and now HGH, abuse for decades and Alzado was just one of its many potential poster boys. Hundreds of former NFL players are crippled from the sport and the items personally ingested or by those who hit and eventually maimed them.

Lastly, baseball may well be in the unenviable position to have its all-time hits leader, its all-time HR leader and its most prodigious winner of Cy Young awards left out of the Hall-of-Fame. Simply amazing and sad!

I think the Mitchell Report is a good thing for baseball, for two reasons. The first is that it exposes the problem in baseball for what it is- a serious problem. No longer can players and management hide behind a firewall of obsfucation and denials. Mitchell's Report named names, and some big ones at that. We'll probably hear more about other reports down the line, as well.

That being said, while it does suck that there were a good number of Mets who were fingered, only a few of them were integral to the team at the time they were on it. Dykstra probably 'roided up around the time that he left the Mets for the Phillies. Hunley had one great year on a crappy team, and that year is now invalid, but we don't care because Piazza was much better, and did more for the team than Hunley ever could Guys like Segui, Stanton, Manzanillo, and Vaughn were at times productive, but usually, just mediocre. Don't even get me started on Schoeneweis. That leaves us with Matt Franco, Todd Pratt, and Paul Lo Duca. Pratt's awesome homer against the Dbacks in Game 4 of the 99 NLDS is a great memory for us Mets fans, but it's now tainted. And the scrappy-ness of Franco on Bobby V's bench is tainted. And Lo Duca's exit from the Mets makes ALOT more sense now. I think the team knew the jig was up.

That being said, asides from the Radomowski stuff, I'm really not sure how much the Mets win, lose, or draw here. Certainly far less than the Yankees, what with Giambi, Justice, Sheffield, Stanton, Clemens, and Pettite (!) all on the list. The Yankees Dynasty now looks a hell of alot more flimsy.

A couple of comments here.

1)Former Senator Mitchell rarely showed any tendency to plead mercy for wrongdoers in his time steering senate hearings (he was majority leader for a while). My guess is this call for leniency is backhanded acknowledgement that the work of this committee wouldn't withstand a challenge in court.

2) As treated by Baseball Crank, the anecdotal telling of Roger Clemens' steriod use has a number of holes in it. Not to say he didn't use steriods; quite possibly he did. But the story that he suffered a bad first half, started shooting up and turned it around in the second half betrays ignorance of what steriods can do for an athlete. And Clemens was portrayed as teetering on the edge of extinction as a professional, when in fact the previous season he had staged his great comeback, winning the Cy Young in the process.

3) Most of the sources I know state that HGH doesn't do anything to enhance a player's game. It DOES help a person enjoy a healthier life, however, and everyone I have ever heard or read agree that Human Growth Hormone has NO detrimental side effects, in stark contrast to steriods. Why is it banned, by the FDA or by baseball? Which leads me to my last item:

4) Lists of these sort are about as useful as batting average in telling who is a good offensive player. No, wait, it's not nearly that good. In fact the list suggests that each infraction is the equal to any of the others on the list -- and we just know that things aren't that way in real life. If Joe McCarthy gave up a list that included Julius Rosenberg, who did pass nuclear secrets to the Soviets, and Lucelle Ball, whose registered as a Communist to please her uncle, would they deserve the same public treatment? No, because lists obscure as much as they reveal.

Okay, enough from me.

The fact that anyone could think that a distinguished former senator, partner at a prestigious law firm, etc, would sully his good name and go out of his way to name Yankees in this report is classic Yankee-fan delusional behavior.

NostraDennis nailed it in mentioning that the (almost) entire report is based on the testimony and name-dropping of a New York clubhouse attendant. The report was nothing more than a dog and pony show, as you mentioned, and should be treated as such.

The most surprising thing to me was the astonishing number of names on the list that were terrible players. Josias Manzanillo? Jerry Hairston Jr.? It proves the point that no matter how many PED's you take, they can only improve your performance if you're actually decent to begin with. How dejected must those guys feel that were on the list and still sucked? Nothing like being called a cheater and having to deal with the fact that it didn't even matter.

Nostradennis and then Marc both referred to the Mitchell hearings as a Dog and Pony Show. I think that may prove to be very insightful.

Thing is, a typical Dog and Pony, as I understand the term, is a sales tool, a promotional vehicle. Anyone care to speculate on exactly what is being sold this time?

I have an idea, bearing in mind that 1)George Mitchell is firmly in the owners' camp, and has been from long involvement in the game; and 2) that as baseball revenues have skyrocketed, so have the costs of obtaining baseball talent at every level.

Back when the owners forfeited all claims to the moral high ground, in my own opinion, back when the home run chase was wiping away the ill effects of the numerous labor disputes -- back then, it would be hard to argue that baseball's willful blind eye served any purpose BUT money. Today, the owners would dearly love to hang onto more of the revenue pie themselves, rather than merely pass it along to the players. That COULD play a real part in the spectacle before us.

Could play, I say, because I don't know how giving the players a black eye winds up saving the owners money. I guess I could dream up a possible means, but why bother? Either the answer will become clear in time, or else I will be proved wrong, which would be all right with me. Tell you, though: I'll be paying close attention to the second act of this little midwinter melodrama.

The big shots of the front office of the Mets, know they don't have to do anything to draw a crowd at Shea this year and next year , because the old shea and the new citi park will draw all by themselves. So don't expect any thing big to happen. they could put the Binghamyon Mets on the field and still draw big crowds. For the next two years.See you in Binghamton!

Roger Clemens is the worlds biggest steroid shooting lying son of a bitch. He'll rot in hell for all his lies...and he'll NEVER see the Hall of Fame! Rightfully so- rot in hell you fucker!

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