Those of you who read the virtual pages of Getting Blanked often will know our feelings on the whole steroids/HGH issue. I won’t rehash those feelings fully here; there’s really no point. I will say this though: If what you know about steroids and other so-called “performance-enhancing drugs” comes from the mainstream media and you don’t happen to be a doctor who has administered similar drugs, then you cannot comment on what steroids do or how they affect the human body, because guess what—you have no idea.

The reason I bring this up is because Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote about the Mitchell Report in his Sunday column today, suggesting it was that report that lead to baseball cleaning up its act when it comes to steroids. He quotes Commissioner Bud Selig at length who says that even though the Mitchell Report was heavily criticized, it succeeded in cleaning up the game.

For those who don’t know, the Mitchell Report was a 409-page document released on December 13th, 2007 and was the result of a 21-month investigation by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. The report was said to be an independent investigation into the “illegal use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball.” The report very famously named many players including Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield. In total 89 players were named. Some big names, many not.

Selig champions the Mitchell Report as the instance where MLB knew it had to get tougher testing in order to eradicate the problem—which he says has now been taken care of.

Here’s the problem: Everybody and their grandmother knew long before the Mitchell Report came out that something needed to be done. The fact that it took a huge investigation for Selig to realize it is both monumentally stupid and a massive waste of time. Mitchell, who at one time worked for the Red Sox and had many connections to the game, was merely trying get his name in the paper.

It’s very likely that MLB and the Player’s Association would have instituted tougher testing regardless of the findings in the report. There was a ton of pressure both internally and externally for them to do so. The subsequent prosecution of both Bonds and Clemens for perjury, lying to congress and obstruction of justice—wasting millions of taxpayer dollars—just made it obvious how much grandstanding really took place at that time.

Here are the facts: We don’t know how much steroids actually help, and we do know that Human Growth Hormone is not actually a performance-enhancer. We also don’t know who did and who didn’t use steroids during the 90s and 2000s—hell, we don’t know who is still doing them. The Mitchell Report—with all its questionable methodologies and hearsay—did nothing but single out 89 players who may have done something sort of questionable at some point in their career. There were probably hundreds more who didn’t have their reputation wrongfully sullied by a former politician with an axe to grind.

Cafardo’s (and Selig’s) suggestion that the Mitchell Report was good for baseball ignores quite a bit about the state of the game both then and now and also assumes that it was worth the gross waste of taxpayer dollars that the two trials resulted in.

It should also be noted that not a single player was disciplined by the law or Major League Baseball directly because of the Mitchell Report. This was mainly because there was zero legal ground to do so. Nothing in the Mitchell Report actually constitutes evidence. Even the subsequent trial of both Bonds and Clemens ended with both of them essentially being exonerated.

To me, the wild goose chase initiated by the Mitchell Report is a bigger black eye on the sport than steroids could ever hope to be.

And the rest:

More bad news for the Blue Jays on the injury front: Travis d’Arnaud will miss the rest of the AAA season with his knee injury and will not likely play until the Arizona Fall League in October [Gregor Chisholm,] and closer Sergio Santos will miss the rest of the season as he will undergo shoulder surgery to repair the problems he’s been having all year [Gregor Chisholm, Twitter]. Bad day.

D-Backs GM Kevin Towers has talked with Justin Upton about the trade rumours and has told him there is some legitimacy to them [Nick Piecoro,].

The Padres stole home in extra innings against the Dodgers yesterday for the winning run in the game [Video,].

The Phillies have finally received the part they needed to repair the Roy Halladay 3000 and it has been successfully installed. After a quick re-programming, he will resume his duties on Tuesday against the Dodgers [Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly].

Bryce Harper practices more #Jerkball [Video,]. What a jerk taking advantage of the nonchalant behaviour of the Marlins’ infield.

The Oakland A’s aren’t that bad [Getting Blanked].

Draft hyperbole, debunked [Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus].

The most valuable catchers of 2012 [Max Marchi, Baseball Prospectus].

Why won’t Bobby Valentine just stop talking? [Sean McAdam,].

Same goes for another Red Sox employee, Bill James [Peter Abraham, Boston Globe].

Jason Hammel needs knee surgery, bummed out [Dan Connolly, Twitter].

Why do people think the Nats need more pitching? [Darlene Langley, District on Deck].

Tim Lincecum’s awesome again! [Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles].

Comments (7)

  1. Got to disagree with you on a number of fronts here.

    1) To say Mitchell ‘just wanted to get his name in the paper’ is extremely unfair, and only demonstrates your own ignorance of Mitchell’s prior career. Mitchell had a huge and historic legacy before he got involved in baseball, as the chief architect of the MItchell Principles and Good Friday Agreement that led to peace in Northern Ireland. There are many people alive today who would be casualties of the continued Irish troubles but for senator Mitchell. That is to say nothing of his career pursuing peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict and beyond.

    2) Clearly he was invited to get involved in baseball’s Mitchell Report because of his long career as a trusted intermediary in issues of great controversy. He wasn’t some backroom boy from the Red Sox. Yeah, that tarnishes his ‘independence’, but frankly Mitchell had a long career proving his credibility and ethics.

    3) Mitchell spoke to only two players. Why? Because the Players Association enforced a rule of silence and in essence refused to cooperate. This is surely why Selig got Mitchell involved. While the owners and MLB were complicit in the steroid era, the Players Association was resisting anything but token reform long after MLB had decided change was required. The Mitchell Report opened up the floodgates and put pressure on the Players Association for genuine testing. In that sense – it suceeded.

    That taxpayers money has been wasted in ‘failed’ trials is irrelevant too. The Mitchell Report was not about prosecuting players, it was about giving an account of what had happened over the previous decade. A report is held to far lower standards of proof than a courtroom, with the result that it was far easier to give a reasonable impression of what had been going on. That the courts have failed to prove that based on the higher standards of evidence required is not important.

    “To me, the wild goose chase initiated by the Mitchell Report is a bigger black eye on the sport than steroids could ever hope to be.” I’m sorry, but I think that’s a ridiculous statement. The taxpayers’ money wasted, if wasted it was (and I doubt Clemens would see ‘vindication’ as a ‘waste’), is so minute in the context of total government spending, I really don’t think it should be the litmus test of whether MItchell Report was worthwhile. Trials happen so that justice may be done. The failure to prosecute players successfully is still justice successfully implemented.

    • Ben
      Your comments are among the most reasoned I have come across and highlight several issues I had with this blog entry. As well Bonds and Clemens were not prosecuted for taking PEDs. It was for lying to Congress.

      Baseball allowed the steroid issue to happen. The Mitchell Report was the beginning of baseball’s attempt to get the situation under control. Player’s reputations have been damaged. It is unfortunate that the owners and team executives who knew it was happening haven’t been more closely examined for covering it up for so long.

      The whole era was a mess and if the Mitchell Report didn’t happen outside agencies would have become involved. In some ways this report prevented the whole situation from being a worse scandal than it was.

  2. Mitchell Report exposed cheaters for what they were: CHEATERS

  3. Boy, it sure would add to the quality around here if things on this post were reversed. Clearly, ben was meant to be the writer of a thoughtful, balanced article and Travis was born to be a knee-jerk comments poster deliberately handicapping his own intelligence in an effort to write in line with Dustin Parkes’ opinions.

  4. The circumstantial evidence is pretty significant that steoirds ARE in fact a performance enhancer.

    Will it turn an ordinary Joe into an MLB all star? Of course not….in terms of all the skills and talents needed to be an elite baseball player, raw strength is probably the most common and least important. But when you take an already elite player, with elite hand-eye coordination, and the lifetime of training, including the tens of thousands of reps that go along with that and the resulting muscle memory……then yeah, it will make that player better then they otherwise were.

    I don’t see how it’s that difficult to believe….we know steroids increase muscle and strengh. That much is unassailable. And more strength allow one to swing a bat faster. And bat speed is the most important variable in the equation as to how far a baseball will go.

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