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:
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?
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
Gary Mathews Jr.
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!