Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mitchell Report Aftermath

You and I have both had some time to digest this whole Mitchell Report business, and I figured I would share my thoughts on the whole thing. First off, I should say that I was a total fan of the report, no matter how much money it cost to undertake. It was necessary to figure out — atleast to the best of the investigation's ability — what the hell happened during all these years of monstrous homers and beefed up sluggers.

That being said, I think the finger pointing that goes on in the report is — in most cases — unwarranted. There were guys like Brian Roberts of the Orioles who are now forever going to be linked to using HGH or steroids just because their names were in the report. If you actually read what it says about Roberts, though, it's clear he had nothing to do with the rampant roid usage going on in his own locker room. All he did was have a meal with Larry Bigbie and Bigbie's trainer. There's no evidence of checks written, people saying they saw Roberts do steroids, or any sort of old prescription forms. Basically, Brian Roberts will forever be linked for being friendly with Larry Bigbie.

Seriously, I think calling Bigbie a mediocre Major Leaguer would be giving him too much credit at this point. That's how disappointing he was. He was a first-round draft pick, too.

And speaking of Bigbie — who was one of the few former major leaguers to cooperate with the Mitchell boys — what is he thinking? Bigbie was always one of those Orioles who looked impressive physically, but never actually did much in terms of hitting homers or hitting for average. He had one year, 2004, where he hit .280 with 15 homers. Is it a coincidence that is the same year he admitted to having contact with the 'roids guy? No way...I think the guy is just bitter that 'roids don't work for untalented assclowns.

Now, don't get me wrong, this steroid era controversy business is dead serious. But I think it's no different than any other era in baseball. Yes, there should be some kind of disclaimer in the record books...maybe something along the lines of a little intro page detailing the various controversies in baseball history. You know, a little blurb about the Black Sox scandal, something about how blacks weren't allowed to play until Jackie Robinson, and then a little something at the end about the steroid era of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. I think putting an asterisk next to Bonds name or Clemens name is stupid and counterproductive.

I will say this...many of Mitchell's claims would not hold up in court...but you can't fault him for so few people cooperating.

Clemens and Bonds were still great athletes, and to become a great athlete, you have to have the inner drive to pursue that greatness. And in an age where it's become pretty obvious a large number of baseball players were taking steroids or some sort of illegal supplement, the greats like Clemens and Bonds had a desire to continue being great. We, as the viewing public, demand this pursuit of greatness in our athletes. So why shouldn't they do something that everyone else seemed to be getting away with? And frankly, this is no different than any of the other greats, they've all had something that makes any historian go "but what if". For instance, many consider Babe Ruth the greatest power hitter behind Hank Aaron...but the Babe didn't hit any homeruns against black pitchers. Should we put an asterisk next to him saying he didn't face the best competition? Walter Johnson never faced black hitters, either.

It just seems ridiculous to go to all this trouble to taint some of the game's greats. This whole Mitchell investigation accomplished its mission in figuring out how to help the MLB move forward in this whole ordeal. It outted a guy like Clemens, whose legacy will forever be tainted. But should we completely discredit seven Cy Youngs and all the great performances he had over the years. There's something to be said about the mental fortitude needed to compete at a high level in baseball. Steroids can't help that. Barry Bonds may have taken steroids, too, but he still hit a shitload of homeruns. These guys were great athletes who became popular in a culture that demands greatness out of you in order to remain popular. It was human nature to attain this through the a system that was inherently flawed from the beginning. You take advantage of weaknesses in the system, and in MLB's case, that flaw was its drug testing policy. This stuff was known to be going on, and baseball's bigwigs ignored it. Why should players be taking the brunt of the criticism if this were something others merely turned a shoulder towards.

If I were Clemens, I would just admit to what you did and move on. The public is very forgiving of people who admit when a mistake has been made.

I think the main point to get out of all this is that a lot of guys were doing something illegal. It was a malfunction at all levels of the MLB — the players, the coaches, the front offices, the players' union, and the commissioner's office. Every single one of those groups has some of the collective blame in all this. So, why should we let this linger if you can't single anyone out? This was just another controversy in a league that has had its fair share over the years. Rather than trying to completely exclude any memory of what happened from the record books, just accept this as another chapter in a book that will always be adding new chapters in the future.

So yes, I do think Clemens and Bonds should be first ballot Hall of Famers. For that matter, I think McGwire should be in, too.


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