What's The Point?
20 months...for this?
The Mitchell Report is out, saying what we already knew: players took performance-enhancing drugs in the 1990's. Some were dumb enough to write checks and money orders. Those who left paper trails get their honor of having their names included in the report.
No one will be punished.
No records will be expunged.
And, get your season tickets now!
Today's news really isn't...new. Any fan with a shred of common sense needed only one look at Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa in the mid 90's to realize something was up. They were capons--bred for meat. Barry Bonds saw the love McGuire and Sosa were getting and wanted in. The book "Game of Shadows" details how Bonds came upon the decision to start juicing, and much of it apparently centered around jealousy. His mistake was failing to come clean when given the chance by investigators: he broke hallowed records, and earned the scrutiny. He blew his chance when people started asking questions, and now he's paying the price. Anyone who claims Bonds is being singled out, or that he's a victim of some race-based vendetta, is plain full of it.
The study outs only those who dealt with the clubhouse lackeys who sang--who knows how many more mopes were out there peddling this stuff, guys who the Senator couldn't get to roll over? I can't believe that the two who talked were the only people on the planet doing under-the-table business with MLB talent. Everyone in the game talks--the guys knew what was going on, and I can't imagine any player wanting to be on the outside looking in when it comes to maintaining competitiveness or getting an advantage.
There's no way any of these guys on the list can be charged, or even punished--the evidence is circumstantial, and I can't imagine the union not fighting any suspensions that Commissioner Bud Selig may dish up. You can't mess with the records--where do you draw lines? Who's to say a juiced hitter who's name is on the list didn't hit at least a few of his dingers off a juiced pitcher who avoided getting mentioned in the report?
New rules are in place, and the Mitchell Report calls for independent testing. HGH already beats the present system, and you can bet there are folks in other BALCO-esque labs working as we speak to come up with even more effective and harder-to-detect substances.
Baseball made a lot of money during the steroids era. Owners got rich as fans packed ballparks following the 1994 strike to see the Sosa/McGuire saga play out, and didn't want to rock the boat. The players' union sure wasn't going to roll over on it's own. Selig made noises about testing, but history will probably deem that he didn't do enough. Fans don't get a pass, either: we dumbed the game down by whoring out for the long ball. Who needs to absorb baseball's subtleties when it's so much easier to merely watch a ball fly over a fence? It wasn't enough to just hit a round-tripper in the late 90's...you had to jack it 600 feet to get on "SportsCenter", even though it still counted as a single run.
And then, there is the media. We didn't ask enough questions. We were afraid to peak into more lockers, although the one guy who spotted the andro in McGuire's didn't exactly have a whole lot of his colleagues rally to support the cause. I see only one media-type who deserves an atta-boy for his part in this: former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly who had the stones to confront Sosa in the Cubs locker room during the height of the steroid speculation, challenging him to end the rumors and join him for an on-the-spot urine test.
Players will always, always, always try to find something to make them better, last longer, bounce back faster. They did it in the 50's when a major leaguer needed a full time job each winter to make ends meet. You can only imagine the pressure to do it now, with millions of dollars in potential salary at stake, not to mention the lucrative endorsements that come the way of those who truly excel.
Two things are for sure: what happened today will be forgotten by spring training. And, players are already on the lookout for the next best way to get a leg up on the guys who'll be trying to take their jobs away.