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George Mitchell

The Mitchell report is due for release tomorrow. I’ve voiced my opinion on this issue before, but I’d like to get some further thoughts out on the investigation specifically.

For starters, this investigation was a sham from the very beginning, never holding any real constructive purpose. It was a political response to a media-driven story. Baseball decided to institute a tougher testing policy, and did so. Their policy is now the toughest in all of sports. If it can be improved, I’m sure it will be, regardless of this report.

But what about HGH, one might say? HGH is useless, without being supplemented with testosterone. That mainstream journalists (and perhaps the players using it) are so blind to this is just irresponsible, if not totally shocking. Testing for HGH is about as practical as testing for whole wheat bread, which most nutrition-conscious steroid users have also been known to consume.

Some media members (who, remember, are the ones driving this story in the first place) say they are simply interested in “how we got here” and “suggestions for the future.” The problem with these claims (neither of which I buy; this is purely a witch hunt) is that they are both redundant. We know how we got here; Jose Canseco told us. So has Howard Bryant. And Will Carroll. The San Francisco Chronicle continues to go out of its way to tell us. So why do we need George Mitchell strong-arming players, trainers, general managers, and anyone else he comes in contact with?

As for suggestions for the future… I’m out of ideas. I guess baseball can continue to punish players for using a legal drug with no performance-enhancing effects. And they could keep investing resources into finding a test for that drug. But I’m not sure what else it can do. The testing policy cannot become tougher, without banning everything under the sun.

In reality, George Mitchell’s only role is to point fingers and name names. This is what the media wants, because it will give them something to write about for the next few days or, amazingly enough, weeks.

As for the fans, as I have written in the past, I have a very hard time believing that the steroids issue has ever had a real effect on baseball’s business. Fans clearly do not care about this as much as they think they do, considering a record number of them bought tickets this past season. Regardless of what some may say, actions speak louder than words.

I root for business. I like seeing good businesses succeed, and I think baseball has been a very well run business over the last five years, with a few exceptions. But they are hurting themselves for no apparent reason. I do not believe that any good can come of this investigation, and I believe strongly that baseball has painted itself into a corner. If the report names names and points fingers, the media will scream at those involved. If it does not, the media will take it out on the sport itself.

Happy endings don’t make for interesting conversation, or columns. Bud and co. should know that by now. Incredibly, they still do not.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

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  1. on December 12th at 12:59 pm
    robustyoungsoul said:

    I’m reserving judgment on the Report until I actually see it, but I’m not very optimistic that it will do much good.

    On the plus side, to add a little bit of fun to what will be a bad day for baseball tomorrow, my buddies and I made a Mitchell Report Pool. 8 round draft, guy with most names on the report takes the pot.

  2. on December 13th at 04:30 am
    melissa said:

    Of course the Mitchell report is going to be a “mockery of a sham of a mockery,” but Bud wants to appear to be doing something. Mitchell had no subpeona power which would make one wonder how anyone interviewed would be compelled to tell the truth. It wasn’t an independent or authentic investigation on any level.

    It seems a bit premature to deem HGH “useless.” There hasn’t been extensive study or large sample size to determine it’s effects to a degree of scientific certainty. There certainly is anectdotal evidence to suggest that it’s use does have an effect, such as players having increased performance at an age when most athetes begin a decline. Another thing that wasn’t addressed in those studies was how HGH impacts an athletes ability to recover faster and hence train more and at an increased capacity. It will be interesting to see if evidence comes out of studies BALCO did on the combinations of drugs they gave to athletes and how they measured the impact it had on those users.

    Most fans don’t probably care what players take or how it impacts their performance. I happen to feel that it’s unfortunate that a record set by Hank Aaron who had to overcome all types of obstacles was broken by someone who in all probablitity used drugs to break the record. To me it disrespects the history of the game and the players that competed in the past. Baseball may be a business but it also has traditional meaning to fans of the game. I don’t know how you can look at the production of a great number of modern era players and think that their performance is authentic or achieved naturally. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like to watch their performance but I don’t have as much respect for it. As far as the media is concerned, I wonder why they don’t scrutinize the use of HGH and steroids in the NFL where it appears that the use of PED is much more wide spread.