Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Hung Over
2007-12-14 05:45
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Jose Canseco's best bud, Alex Rodriguez spoke to reporters just hours before the Mitchell Report was released yesterday. Tyler Kepner has the details.

I haven't read the Mitchell Report so I can't offer any kind of educated analysis. In reading through the New York papers this morning, I haven't found many really good takes on it either, though Tim Marchman's column is good. Howard Bryant and John Helyar offer solid work at ESPN.

Comments (84)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-12-14 06:44:51
1.   mehmattski
It is a sad state of American society in which slanderous hearsay can count as evidence in the court of public opinion. Sure, many fans just wanted a scapegoat, and Roger Clemens is that. But are we really looking to go on the say-so of someone (McNamee) pressured into giving testimony to avoid jail time? Where's Jack McCoy- this would never fly on Law and Order...

At least Radomski's suspects have some (questionable, and in LoDuca's case, hilarious) physical evidence to go along with Radomski's word. Those are the only allegations I will be taking even a little bit seriously.

The worst allegation of all is Eric Gagne's: rumor in the LA front office, and an internal e-mail from Theo Epstein contemplating that rumor. Wow.

2007-12-14 06:48:17
2.   horace-clarke-era
Moving my exchange with wsporter over here, because I'm quoting one of the articles Alex steers us to. I think, with respect, that not only is the Red Sox thing a silly tangent, so is the 'he didn't nail management enough', along with, 'he depended too much on two guys'. The last is true, to my mind, but I cannot see how Mitchell could have avoided it, and Alex's articles (mostly Bryant, who is very good) underscore how without the feds, Mitchell had nothing.

But this surely does not mean it needn't have happened, or is meaningless. I like this from Helyar:

"This is a historic event, just as March 17, 2005 was," said John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who has chronicled the history of sports doping, referring to the congressional hearings on steroids. "Mitchell has just hit everybody involved with a big club."

As Hoberman sees it, commissioner Bud Selig fell into step immediately with Mitchell's findings and recommendations. And while MLBPA chief Donald Fehr did not, the report rachets up the pressure on the union to give further ground on drug matters, just as the congressional hearings did. (The union agreed to stricter drug testing and sanctions in November 2005, as Congress was considering taking action of its own.)"

As I said yesterday, Hoberman being right is a best-case scenario and if it happens, it is because of Mitchell's report.

Another column I read underscores the irony whereby the players' union, designed to protect them, ended up seeing that (NOT unreasonably, by the way) as protecting them from being caught, not protecting their health and the idea of a cleaner game. Fehr and Co. do need to get onside for anything to happen - there will still be undetectable drugs used, but the culture can shift.

2007-12-14 06:50:17
3.   Shaun P

In the last thread, you wrote in response to me: "203 If hgh doesn't help, the players paying thousands for an illegal product are doubly stupid, of course: risking real side effects for zero positive effects. But it doesn't remove the intent to have a positive effect, does it? Are you saying you are not bothered if someone tries to cheat and fails? No ethical issue at all?"

But did Pettitte cheat? Leaving the legal issues aside*, the question becomes, did MLB ban hGH in 2002 when Pettitte is alleged to have used? No, and so I don't think Pettitte's alleged activity can be called cheating. You can't break a rule that doesn't exist, and certainly don't have intent if there is no rule forbidding your action.

Was Pettitte's alleged activity questionable? Yes. Was it unethical? That's a hard question. His alleged use was not a crime (see below), broke no MLB rules, and was - according to the guy who made the allegations - purely to recover faster. If this is all true, had Pettitte bothered to do any research, he would have found out he was wasting his time. And again, if true, he should have known that possession of hGH with intent to distribute (without a prescription) is a crime, which should have sent up huge warning bells - because here was McNamee, with no prescription, distributing hGH to him! So I think if Pettitte did this, he was incredibly stupid, but I'm having a hard time finding it unethical.

Remember when Magglio Ordonez went to Europe to have experimental knee surgery? It was illegal to perform the procedure in the US, because the FDA had not approved it. But Ordonez wanted to come back from his knee issues as fast as possible, so he went overseas.

I'm having an awfully hard time distinguishing between what Ordonez did and what Pettitte allegedly did. Its too fine a line for my tastes, too much gray.

*My read of 21 USC 333 says (and the DOJ seems to agree with this according to that memorandum I linked to yesterday) that its possession of hGH with intent to distribute - which Pettitte is not alleged to have - that is a crime, so I do not think Pettitte committed any crime here.

2007-12-14 06:56:18
4.   liam
1 its not just that

american media and journalism has failed as a whole. let me give you a little bit about my morning.

riding the F train to work, i see a guy, looks pretty intelligent (sorry, well dressed and manning the stroller are my only facets for judgement) and the first thing i hear him say is:

"i don't care, they should all be suspended. never allowed to play the game again."

his wife responds "really, you think"

"they're all a bunch of cheaters, and should be punished."

at this point i think to myself "have you read the damn report buddy?" then his wife interrupts my thoughts again..

"what did they do exactly?"

"well, they proved in this report that they took illegal steroids in order to get better at the sport. steroids make you stronger and hit better."

"is there any time where you're allowed?"

"well, yea, if youre injured, sometimes the team doctors will give you steroids to make you heal faster. but only together with cortisone. in fact this guy schilling once took it and pitched a whole world series game."

now here, i have to admit, that the angry man inside smirked a little.

i wanted to get up and say, did you read the damn report buddy? cause all of it is heresay.

i feel for brian roberts, who's only allegation comes a player saying that he said he used them. thats it. no check, no nothing. this fucking report is a joke.

2007-12-14 06:59:56
5.   joejoejoe
There is a post on the legal blog Balkanization about whether or not Clemens has a case for libel because he's been accused of something with hearsay evidence. The consensus is "no" but it's a pretty smart post about some of the ramifications of this report beyond the sports pages.

The blog TalkLeft by defense lawyer Jeralyn Merritt questions the propriety of Kirk Radomski's plea arrangement with the government including a provision to testify before the private MLB investigation. That doesn't sound right to me either but I'm no lawyer.

George Mitchell could have been a Supreme Court justice and instead is poking around in hampers at Shea Stadium. I think it's a lame report - everybody is responsible so nobody is responsible. People in the regular news press hear Mitchell's name and swoon over his credibility but I think sports fans know this is really the Radomski/McNamee report and is something less than rock solid and comprehensive.

2007-12-14 07:01:57
6.   liam
3 supposedly, baseball had a rule well before they banned HGH specifically banning all drugs that were illegal. that includes steroids and HGH.

but your point about magglio is a very interesting one, i think they're very similar.

i cant believe more journalistic work hasn't been done here to show what a crock this report is.

2007-12-14 07:02:17
7.   mehmattski
4 Ah yes, the irony that one of the drugs most frequently given to any major leaguer in a bit of pain, allowing him to enhance his performance is cortisone, a steroid.

If Sen. Mitchell and Congress were truly interested in removing PEDs from baseball, and in protecting children from thinking their use is acceptable, then the only reasonable course of action would have been to offer complete amnesty against legal action and suspension in exchange for testimony. Only then would players have come forward and been truthful about the steroid sub-culture, and only then would we have any idea what to do to prevent the use of illegal drugs in the future.

As is, it's what I've been calling it all along. A witch hunt. A red scare. A mockery of intelligent investigation.

2007-12-14 07:04:04
8.   Shaun P
4 Its not just a joke, its scary at some parts. From Marchman's column:

"Mitchell's main point is a call for a greater reliance on "non-analytical evidence," by which he means hearsay and circumstantial proof, in determining whether a player is violating drug policy."

If this is true - wow. Talk about a witch hunt! We want to eradicate PED use, so we're going to throw the requirement of hard evidence out the window. "He's a user! Look at how much bigger his head is!" "Let's compare his picture now to his baseball card when he was 21." "Ooohhh - he's clearly bigger - user! User!"

This really is a sad day for baseball, and the country.

2007-12-14 07:06:20
9.   mehmattski
6 Yes, baseball had a vague rule that disallowed the use of any substance deemed illegal by the US Government, beginning in 1978 and specifically mentioning steroids in 1992. This would, theoretically, include any use of n over-the-counter medicine against its recommendations, such as Nolan Ryan popping eight Advil before he takes the mound. However, there were no punishments or tests in place until 2002, and as Shaun P has pretty definitively shown, HGH was not illegal until 2004.
2007-12-14 07:06:40
10.   Raf
6 "i cant believe more journalistic work hasn't been done here to show what a crock this report is."

I can. This whole issue was mishandled from the beginning.

2007-12-14 07:07:44
11.   yankz
What did this accomplish? Is there a single big name who wasn't already suspected (Rocket and Andy were named by Grimsley)? What exactly does "hit with a big club" mean?

Again, he lucked into an informant, and only got circumstantial evidence to tell us what we already knew.

If baseball really wanted to "look toward the future" or whatever, IMO it would have gotten an independent drug testing agency to make recommendations, not a senator.

2007-12-14 07:08:08
12.   Raf
An entry on the lighter side, from WW;

"And I want to add that there is a far more serious problem that needs to be addressed. It's time to address the crisis caused by performance enhancing boogers.

I don't need to prove boogers enhance performance. The precedent has already been set. If people don't have to prove that steroids improve the specific skills involved in baseball success, then I don't have to prove that boogers do it. And, even if it is true that steroids do improve it (which might be the case), NOBODY has ever proven that X's stats were inflated above the decrease caused by a competition's use. So, I don't need to do it with boogers." - Lee Sinins

2007-12-14 07:08:32
13.   Sliced Bread
Mitchell and Selig could have made this easier on everybody, and maybe even saved a few bucks had they just sent every member of Red Sox Nation a shipment of Omaha steaks for Christmas.
2007-12-14 07:08:33
14.   dianagramr
I was really hoping for Mitchell to uncover culpability on the owners part .... memos /e-mails etc. showing they KNEW of their players using PEDs, but chose to do nothing, as the increasing power numbers was helping put fannies in the seats.

But I also knew that even if he HAD found that (or even looked for that?), Selig would squash him like a bug before it got out.

2007-12-14 07:13:37
15.   liam
7 10 ridiculousness. everyones saying clemens this and clemens that. how come no one is freaking out about the fact that theo epstein KNEW gagne was using, and that they KNEW other players were using.

if the whole point of the report was to bring about knowledge and prevention, then why did any players have to be named, especially with the level of 'evidence' that they had.

great article on how stupid the report is (and its great, because he agrees with me):

I usually have a lot of respect for ken rosenthal, but i think he hit the nail on the head (except the last paragraph, which nicely returns us to the normal journalistic sensationalism)

2007-12-14 07:14:16
16.   Raf
11 Actually, they would've studied the effects of PED's in the game. What I have seen so far is that correlation = causation. As we know, baseball isn't a sport designed for cause and effect.
2007-12-14 07:15:04
17.   horace-clarke-era
Shaun P,

I think you're making a plausible point BUT I also think it is missing the part I quoted from the report about the misconception about nothing banned before 2002. ( I shared that misconception.) If Mitchell is correct (and there's no real reason to dispute him on this, at least) baseball made it a contravention of the GAME rules (not criminal liability) to use prescription drugs with an intent to boost performance (drugs that require a prescription) without a proper prescription for an approved medical use.

This is why I linked Andy to Paul Byrd who claimed a medical condition as his explanation, but the prescription was from a ludicrous source, and the amounts were enormous, AND Byrd (it is pretty clear) never notified the team or the league. If Pettitte had gone to his doctor and received a prescription for something that would speed elbow healing ... there's no story.

I'm not going to continue on Andy, if we can move on, because I find it depressing. I agree, entirely, that worst case this looks like someone foolishly trying to speed up short term injury recovery and not pursuing an ongoing illicit performance gain. I'm troubled by his ongoing association with the trainer but can resolve this (in my own biased mind!) as straightforward loyalty.

5 I think you're right in that it comes largely down to Radomski/McNamee, for reasons that have been made pretty clear and which circle back in a big way to the union. As I said before, it is understandable that Fehr and Orza would take the stand they did, but my question for you becomes: if Mitchell moves them OFF that stand (as Hoberman thinks, optimistically, it will), was it a time-waster? Is it shabby or hollow? Or does it help shift the culture?

2007-12-14 07:18:02
18.   yankz
Start has a great take:
2007-12-14 07:19:36
19.   yankz
2007-12-14 07:23:41
20.   The Mick 536
The discussion of the report in the Banter tops the rallying behind the game nonsense from the paid pros. The lords, managers, reporters, players, and investigators should all bow their heads in shame. We don't know who used, who didn't use, and if they used, how it affected the game. I, personally, didn't need Senator Mitchell to tell the game what it should do in the course of assassainating the 80 or so present and past players on resoundly weak proof. How independent can his report be when he is not only a part of management, but has been indemnified against suit by one part of the very enterprise he is allegedy investigating? Stroke me no more Bud.
2007-12-14 07:23:45
21.   mehmattski
14 There was also the long discussion about how Greg Anderson went to Brian Sabean and discussed the steroid-culture in the Giants locker room. Anderson had just spent a great deal of time explaining the side effects of steroids to an unidentified Giants player. Sabean told Anderson to speak to the Giants locker room about it, but Anderson did not feel it was his place to do so. Sabean took no action whatsoever.
2007-12-14 07:29:38
22.   Raf
14 Given the way Steve Wilstein (the reporter who saw a bottle of Andro in McGwire's locker) was treated, I wouldn't be surprised.
2007-12-14 07:30:18
23.   horace-clarke-era
I'd have done better to de-lurk here in a quieter month! Hard to get work done this morning. I think Epstein/Gagne will get noted widely, it is less than 24 hours at this point. Same for the Giants' clubhouse averted eyes, or asking junior clubhouse guys to 'warn' or talk to players about funny packages.

I do think there's way too much shoot-the-messenger at work so far. I'm sticking to the question I asked wsporter: is the report 'bad' if it shifts the game's culture? Is it possible that shift REQUIRES some splash? Seems to me some people are saying 'we all KNEW this' and others 'it is just hearsay'...

And, liam, I think this needs to be repeated: Radomski's evidence is a pretty solid 'level' ... read the report (sorry to say that!) ... a lot of corroboration. But this is not about criminal prosecution, it is about forcing changes in the game. No?

2007-12-14 07:33:19
24.   yankz
If Selig needed this report to tell him that steroids were a huge problem and that he needs to do something, he's dumber than I thought. I only thought he was really dumb, not that dumb. Which is why I don't think "discovering the scope of the problem" (which they really failed at doing) or "planning for a better future" were the goals.
2007-12-14 07:35:43
25.   Raf
23 The only thing that will change is the method of "cheating."
2007-12-14 07:35:46
26.   mehmattski
23 I will only agree with you if Bud Selig keeps his mouth shut and doesn't discipline any players for past infractions under a policy which rendered no punishment or testing. If their quotes about cleaning up the game and protecting the children are truthful and not just political grandstanding, then they will move forward and take the more tangible recommendations of the report: true random testing (without the "warnings" from Gene Orza), better screening of packages, closer attention to the minor leagues, etc.

If, however, Selig et al are comfortable simply continuing the witch hunt and burning the players in the report at the stake of public opinion, then this report was entirely useless. I am more interested in a truthful progression forward than I am character defamation.

2007-12-14 08:09:16
27.   horace-clarke-era
23 Raf, if so, and it may BE so, what do you suggest?

26 mehmattski, I think this is not only agreeing with me, it is agreeing with Mitchell who explicitly proposes (read it!) that no backwards-looking sanctions be imposed.

My whole point here has been that the report's being slammed in wrongheaded ways (not enough Red Sox, not enough hacking at management, not enough 'real' evidence). I've suggested the naming of names might serve a function in making it very hard for Fehr/Orza and owners and Selig not to do as Mitchell, you, and I are hoping they'll do. Who could resist all three of us?

If your disagreement is: 'They may not!' well, yeah, I know. But that isn't on Mitchell, is it? And, it just occurred to me, dumping all over him as 'meaningless' or 'corrupt' just encourages ignoring, doesn't it? It has always seemed to me that when we blamed owners for ignoring steroids because home runs put fans in the seats ... we're the fans, no?

2007-12-14 08:13:21
28.   wsporter
2 I appreciate your points and the measured way you make your argument. I'll say again that I don't believe for a moment that there is actual impropriety on Mitchell's part. To accuse him of intentionally slanting the report against any individual or organization is unfair and completely misses the point. I do think that the appearance of a conflict of interest weakens the reports utility as a policy or organizational tool. I don't believe that they had finished their investigation given all they had were the two "gentleman" under indictment as corroborating direct witnesses supplying them information and for that reason should not have released it. Based on that I also don't believe players names should have been released.

I felt this was a bad idea when Selig announced they were going to do this unilaterally and based on the results I still do. They have not solved or resolved anything and will, if they are not very careful at this point, polarize their relationship with the MLPA. Thats not much positive bang for $60 million bucks.

2007-12-14 08:22:52
29.   mehmattski
27 I have read a great deal of the report, although I admit I have focused mostly on the sections regarding allegations against specific players. It is those sections that I find dubious, and I find their intent entirely to defame the characters of the players named. Mitchell knew what would happen to any player whose name is in there, and all these lists are now circulating damning anyone who appears in bold. This includes the players in the "Alleged Internet Purchases of Performance Enhancing Substances
By Players in Major League Baseball" section, which provides precious little evidence and frequently admits to that.

So I guess my ire is directed mostly at the mainstream media and the government for taking the report differently than it was intended. I still have some doubts as to whether Mitchell's intentions were really as he said (to save the children and all that). The media, for a large part, is missing entire sections of the report, on the recommendations. I am especially interested in what MLB will do about the "non-testing physical evidence" that Mitchell recommends focusing on.

That said, I do think there is not enough in the report that takes management to task for failure to enforce the rules supposedly set forth as early as 1978. If any plan for the future is going to work, its going to need cooperation of players and management, and not vindication of one for the benefit of the other.

2007-12-14 08:24:56
30.   horace-clarke-era
28 Courtesy equally appreciated. This is as volatile an issue as the game is going to get, probably even a bit more so than where Santana goes!

As best I recall, Selig was trying to keep this from congress, and congress was ready to jump all over it. They may yet do so: and that, to my mind, is why I'm a BIT more optimistic than you that the 60 million's worth it for the game ... MLPA does NOT want subpoenas, not just of players but of Gene Orza!

And we needed those names (including Orza, and Epstein musing on Gagne), I think, to push activity. I do agree that the Olympic experience, among others (Tour de France) suggests that there will always be cheating. I do not believe that means we give up on trying to make it harder, rarer, less indulged.

That's the 'culture' word I keep using: the ambience where those Giants clubhouse stories emerged, or Epstein would query steroids just in terms of a player's present-value off the stuff. Or even all of us, grinning knowingly at the slimmed-down Pudge or Giambino. Or wondering if Roger skipped his first half year to possibly clean himself up. (His first reported steroids were the ones that took longer to get rid of.)

I don't think any more of Bud Selig or Don Fehr than many here do, but I'm prepared to watch and see if Mitchell has put them in a position where they have to dance.

Is that a reasonable position, 21 hours after the report?

2007-12-14 08:31:12
31.   Raf
27 Suggest for what? Getting rid of steroids/PED's/drugs in baseball, or eliminating cheating?
2007-12-14 08:38:34
32.   horace-clarke-era
27 Well, I don't think we're talkin' here about the ol' Whitey Ford scuffball. If you see them as two different topics, go ahead and separate them out in an answer.
2007-12-14 08:38:58
33.   horace-clarke-era
sorry, meant 32 ... 27 was ME!
2007-12-14 08:39:31
34.   horace-clarke-era
sigh 31 ... I'll go be quiet awhile.
2007-12-14 08:40:24
35.   wsporter
I think it's reasonable but not necessarily sustainable and we'll agree to disagree. I believe this report is as likely to prompt congressional action as it is to deflect it because it really doesn't do anything other than raise unsustainable (based on the proof offered) allegations of use and misuse by players and condonation on the part of ownership and management. It will provide a beautiful back drop for the House to engage in another odd display of kabuki theater.

The MPLA has to determine if the strategy that will advance the interest of their membership lies in cooperating with ownership or engaging them combatively and balking at a flawed report. Ownership has an opportunity to extend an olive branch by following Mitchell's suggestion not to punish the alleged offenders. I hope they are smart enough to do so. At that point this report will then assume it's proper status as one additional piece of the puzzle in figuring this mess out. In fact I think Mitchell's amnesty suggestion is the key to rescuing any utility from this exercise. It's really the only hope they have of obtaining voluntary cooperation from the MPLA.

2007-12-14 08:41:17
36.   wsporter
35 is linked to 30 . Sorry!
2007-12-14 08:42:28
37.   pistolpete
>> To accuse him of intentionally slanting the report against any individual or organization is unfair and completely misses the point. >>

To me it's as simple as this - the report is slanted because the clubhouse employees in question worked for the Mets and the Yankees. Radomski only had so many connections, I imagine.

If they caught a guy who used to work in the Boston clubhouse, the list would be mostly Red Sox players.

2007-12-14 08:50:16
38.   Raf
30 That would be the first place to start; getting rid of the 'culture.' Personally, I think that the current steroids brouhaha, is a natural progression of the acceptance of cheating in baseball. Going by "Ball Four" PEDs (greenies?) have been around since, what, the 50's? Tom House mentioned that steroids have been around since at least the '70s.

I don't know how to "level the playing field." I suspect there isn't a way to do it.

I suppose a way to "cure" baseball of its "ills" is to perhaps implement draconian measures for PED/steroid/drug use, but I don't think that will be too effective, given the war on drugs. But sure, let's go with stiffer penalties.

And it's a pipe dream, but I would like to see a study on the effects of steroids in the game. If we're going to be outraged, may as well see what we're getting outraged about.

2007-12-14 08:56:17
39.   ny2ca2dc
30 I get your point, and I suppose I hope this report can help change the culture, to the extent that's possible. But I feel quite strongly that those ends don't and can't justify butchering 80 guys.

There's no credibility in this report. I love the Paul Lo Duca "Thanks for everything, Paul" note, how rich. Maybe if we waterboard a few more towel boys we can get some more names & cocamame 'evidence'.

(If the semi-torture reference is in bad taste, I apologize & retract, I'm feeling surly this morning)

2007-12-14 08:56:33
40.   mehmattski
38 Is it unfair that one player spends so much time in the weight room, which pressures other players to do the same?

The only way to level the playing field is to make a bunch of clones of David Eckstein, grow them up in identical environments, and have them compete against each other. Until then, all players have different talents and different training regimens, and therefore the playing field will never be level.

2007-12-14 09:01:45
41.   wsporter
40 "The only way to level the playing field is to make a bunch of clones of David Eckstein..." Great idea, then I'd finally have a real shot!
2007-12-14 09:12:51
42.   standuptriple
21 I pretty much skimmed the report, but I didn't catch that. Are you sure you are confusing Greg Anderson with Stan Conte (Giants trainer, no relation to Victor Conte of BALCO)? Sabean was taken to task in the SF paper today along with McGowan (Giants managing partner) and rightfully so, IMO.
2007-12-14 09:14:42
43.   ny2ca2dc
41 You all saw that he signed with the Blue Jays, right? In case you thought that team couldn't be any more distasteful...
2007-12-14 09:15:50
44.   horace-clarke-era
40 "Is it unfair that one player spends so much time in the weight room, which pressures other players to do the same?"

Sorry, but that's swing and a miss, I think. Pressuring people to work hard isn't pressuring them to take illegal substances.

There have been people arguing over the years (in the Olympic context, too) that these are grown men and women, let them do what they want. It was false then, and false here to equate cheating secretly (any other kind?) with training aggressively. Among other things, there has been some strong writing the last few years on how those East German women athletes forced by the state to take the earliest horse-world steroids had their lives ruined. We used to hate them as 'mannish' cheaters, now one can only feel sorry for them.

Yes, a ballplayer has always been able to stay clean and lose his job at the bottom of a roster to Randy Velarde but if you're arguing that it makes no difference if Velarde's better through working hard or finding his Radomski, I respectfully disagree.

It isn't 'unfair' that Alex Rodriguez is bigger and stronger than, um, Horace Clarke was. It is (for me) unfair that Velarde hung on for a few extra years and a few extra million dollars over guys who might have had a job if he'd been clean.

(I'm not trying to pick on Randy, by the way, just that he's always been my go-to example at the bottom of the pile.)

On the other hand, cloning Eckstein's an idea with merit.

2007-12-14 09:16:39
45.   Raf
39 WRT the report, the ends don't justify the means. But the reality is that it will, in the eyes of the public.

40 We'll have to have standardized bats, balls and ballparks too.

2007-12-14 09:20:05
46.   yankz
43 Seriously, is Ricciardi just giving up on the dream?
2007-12-14 09:21:41
47.   Raf
44 That's the thing, we don't know if the player didn't make it because Velarde was using. We don't know if Velarde made it because he was using. There are too many variables.
2007-12-14 09:28:20
48.   yankz
You know why I wish Red Sox had been named? To see if Ken Tremendous' response would have been as stupid.
2007-12-14 09:31:35
49.   mehmattski
42 You are correct, I had Stan Conte and Greg Anderson mixed up. Conte had a problem with Anderson being in the clubhouse, and Sabean refused to act. I'm glad to see he was taken to task by the SF Chronicle.

44 This line is a bit off track from what we've been talking about, since it raises the issue if, regardless of rules and laws, whether steroids are cheating at all. It seems as though you put the line at whether something is illegal or against the rules. This is fine, plenty of people have this viewpoint. I do not.

I prefer to look at things outside the sphere of legality and judge everything in a spectrum of how they help a player. In my mind, there is only a qualitative difference between taking testosterone and taking vitamin B12, and a qualitative difference between the latter and drinking a protein shake after a workout. All of those things are "drugs" in the sense that they are chemicals which alter the body, and they are "performance enhancing" in the sense that they render unto the player an advantage he did not have before taking the drug.

I see, for example, the cortisone shot that Curt Schilling got prior to his "bloody sock" game was definitely a performance enhancing drug, and a steroid even. But this is not a problem?

If the purpose is to protect younger players against health risks, then the ban should be against all supplements that confer significant health risks- HGH is not among these. Chewing tobacco, on the other hand, should be banned.

If the purpose is to "level the playing field" and make sure that no one has an "unfair" advantage, then I think the exercise is hopeless. Contrary to the Declaration of Independence, we are not all created equal... and similarly, we are not all making the same decisions regarding training.

2007-12-14 09:41:01
50.   yankz
Via Pete: "Alex Rodriguez has his own clubbie with the Yankees, a guy who literally stands there and holds drinks for him."

That's kind of a dick thing to do, but I have to say, if I was worth that much, I'd probably pay kids down the street thousands to do my laundry.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-12-14 09:45:52
51.   horace-clarke-era
49 mehmattski, as I said, I've heard your view here before, sometimes expressed as 'Since we can't properly police it, open the doors to anything.' (There are occasionally kid-related exceptions proposed, along the lines of drinking and cigarettes.)

I think YOU were the one raising the issue of whether steroids are cheating at all (I apologize if that's what you meant all along, the link to my 44 makes it look as if I raised it.) Yes, I'd say using products formally proscribed is cheating, based on the laid-out rules. I'd say getting a medical exemption (Evil Curt) takes it out of cheating.

'Advantage' is not the issue, 'unfair' is the discussion. That's what I was trying to get at in the last part of 44 .

47 Raf, there's some debate here as to whether, say hgh does any good (does anyone have references to data on this?) but I haven't yet seen anyone credible arguing steroids achieve nothing. Given that, I'd just say that however many other variables might come into play, this is ADDING an unfair one for the non-user. That better?

2007-12-14 09:53:46
52.   mehmattski
51 I don't know that I've said that we should allow everything because we can't police it, but rather that we should allow everything that isn't going to significantly hurt the user. This would protect not only the players but also send the message to kids that anabolic steroids, taken in the amounts that professional athletes do, is not safe.

As for the benefits of anabolic steroids, it's clear they do something. They build muscle mass, no one is disputing that. What's disputed is whether greater muscle mass really helps someone hit a baseball farther, and be a generally better baseball player. For some anecdotal evidence, look at A-Rod. He attributes his "down year" in 2006 to building way too much muscle that was getting in the way of his bat speed. He slimmed down for the 2007 season and we immediately saw the results in April. Unlike raw sports such as weightlifting, running, and swimming, muscle mass =! greater performance on its own. I think that's the point of folks who make this particular argument.

2007-12-14 09:57:05
53.   yankz
Raw muscle mass helps in running and swimming?
2007-12-14 09:58:24
54.   mehmattski
53 I would say so. Ask Marion Jones.
2007-12-14 10:00:40
55.   williamnyy23
As expected, the full impact of the Mitchell Report has been reduced down to the allegation against Roger Clemens. I think Selig correctly realized that by having some big names mentioned, all focus would be shifted off of him. Selig should be ashamed. Even more importantly, he should be asked to resigned. Assuming that the Mitchell Report is completely accurate, Selig presided over a drug culture in which players freely purchased and used PEDs and front office personnel openly discussed what was going on. I am sorry, but if you are the chief executive of an organization engaging in this much suspect activity, you would be forced to resign. But, as designed, everyone is denigrating Clemens' reputation without focusing on Selig.

Aside from that, I think the following need to be emphasized:

1) If McNamee is correct, Pettitte took HGH for a brief period in 2002 with the intention of recovering faster from an injury. Putting aside the fact that HGH was not a banned substance until 2005, this shows that Pettitte has been a clean player for a great majority of his career. Ironically, that's a lot more than we can say for most other players. In this witchhunt era, is it not better to have evidence of limited use than unproven allegations of more wide spread use?

2) The NY Post had a silly headline saying the Yankee dynasty was called into question. Of course, this ignored the facts that every player but Clemens was alleged to have used HGH after the Yankees last championship season in 2000: Pettitte (2002), Knoblauch (2001), Justice (2001) and Stanton (2003 with the Mets).

3) Most stories are portraying Clemens as a habitual user, but the evidence seems to suggest that he used steroid three times as a late season boost (1998, 2000 and 2001). Again, if McNamee is truthful, that really only calls into question three half seasons of Clemens' career. In no way shape or form does McNamee allege that Clemens regularly used steroids throughout his career to enhance his performance and conditioning. In fact, by stating that Clemens was afraid of needles and couldn't inject himself, it would lead me to believe that the only time he used them was when McNamee injected him (why use another person when you already trust McNamee so much?). This might seem like a minor point to some, but I think it is critical if you are going to pass judgement on a career as expansive as Clemens.

4) George Mitchell should be ashamed today. Not because of the conflict of interest that so many have mentioned, but because he billed MLB $60mn for a report that could have been authored by anyone on this list. Aside from the Radomski testimony, this report could have been compiled by searching the internet. Had Radomski not been caught and compelled by the FBI to cooperate with Mitchell (exactly what stake does law enforcement have in this report?), this report would have been 100 pages of history on the subject. What's more, the conclusions and recommendations reached were far from revolutionary. I think I read several articles over the past year that reached the same conclusion.

I think the only way MLB moves forward from this report and ther steroid era is if Selig resigns. His role in this was as big as anyone, so, as the CEO, he needs to pay the price. Until Selig is gone, the level of trust between management and the MLBPA will take a step back. If Selig really loves baseball as much as he professed, he'll step aside.

2007-12-14 10:13:57
56.   mehmattski
55 I, for one, would not have been able to report about the padlocked bag full of pine-tar coated marijuana delivered to the Marlins' visitor clubhouse in Montreal...

(BTW, I agree with all you wrote)

2007-12-14 10:23:17
57.   yankz
Damn Will, you are on fire.

54 Well, raw muscle mass itself doesn't help running, much like it doesn't help you hit a baseball. If it did, then weightlifters would be winning gold medals in the 100m. You have to condition yourself too, in the right ways.

There's definitely a specific body type that you need to succeed in Olympic-level swimming competitions. Toned and muscular, but not bulky.

Basically, I agree with you in that steroids themselves rarely help anybody in the vast majority of sports.

2007-12-14 10:27:03
58.   ms october
55 Nice summary and points of emphasis, william. Though I would take one point a step further, which you seem to intimate in your last paragraph - Selig should not even wait to be asked to resign - he should resign on his own accord.

As to point 2, a blog in the NYT questions whether the Subway series should be taken from the Yanks and given to the Mets.

And to the sentiment also expressed in the last paragraph about how this impacts the union and the owners is going to be very interesting moving forward, especially when the current cba expires.

Finally - and I am not trying to absolve the players of "guilt" - some (many) obviously chose to take peds or believed they had to in order to compete, but my cursory reading of the report indicates there is no discussion of whether players were encouraged to take peds by scouts, management, or others in "authority." If someone saw this, please let me know and I will retract my statement, but otherwise, I think this is another example of how the report is woefully incomplete.

2007-12-14 10:41:08
59.   horace-clarke-era
Bang, messenger! Take that! Die, AND be ashamed! You were stonewalled by the players, used the sources the feds made available, reported (NOT in a court of law) direct testimony given to you, specifically urged moving on and NO sanctions against anyone named, revealed a culture we all AGREE was toxic (but it seems everyone agrees it was but doesn't want anyone cited?), may have pushed the sport (union + owners) to get it together fast, but you, um, spent the money it costs to deliver? Shall we demand an accounting here? Is anyone saying Mitchell had a duty when he took it on to promise more, anyway he could get it? Did some make the bad waterboarding joke earlier here? Anyone READ the Orza sections on steroid testing, or the flat-out refusal to talk to him?

williamnny23, I have agreed with a lot of what you've written here in other contexts, but I still think this is missing the point. Aside from mehmattski's funny response, are we going to argue here that the report 1) Tells what everyone KNEW or 2) The report uses new data that would not hold up in criminal proceedings?

Here's Stark, who does some ripping of Mitchell (open season's begun) but adds this:

"For all the flaws, the problems and the shortcomings of the Mitchell report, it deserves its due on one count -- the most important count of all, in fact."

(I'll break in here to say I agree with his 'the most important count of all' line.)

"The whole idea of this extravaganza was to point baseball toward a cleaner, brighter, better future. And the report does an admirable job of doing exactly that.
As it paints its picture of how this sport got itself into this quagmire, it's more than merely a tale of players looking for ways to beat the system. It's a tale of high-ranking officials throughout baseball who had suspicions, or uncovered drug paraphernalia, or saw things they shouldn't have seen, or heard things they shouldn't have heard -- and did absolutely zilcho. In some cases -- heck, in many cases -- it was because they thought nobody at MLB really cared. Or when they did try to take some action, nobody ever followed up. Well, that has to change. And this report lays out a blueprint for how to make certain it does change."


What he said.

For those upset at the media focus on big names (read, Roger): yes, I agree, it is sad. And predictable, and yes, Mitchell likely knew this might happen (though he has a pretty direct note asking people NOT to over-focus) and to my mind it is exactly this notoriety that will force the game to move, as Stark agrees.

Selig resigning? Yeah, sure. Should have been gone years ago. And if someone wants to say he has no credibility going forward and will be in the way, I'd buy that. Um: Orza and Fehr? Them, too?

2007-12-14 10:46:05
60.   horace-clarke-era
By the way: where did the $60 million number come from? Sometimes these figures get pulled randomly and end up as accepted. Anyone have a good source?

Stark says:

"Did Bud Selig really need to spend (pick a number) $20 million, $30 million, $50 million or whatever the heck this report cost to find all that out? We've all got our doubts about that, don't we? But now, as Selig himself said, "I have to do something about it. ... And I think the sport will be better off."

2007-12-14 10:46:18
61.   williamnyy23
59 I am sorry, but all I see this Mitchell report doing is dragging some names through the mud and encouraging other intrepid reporters to find the next Radomski. What about this report exactly leads you to think that it points baseball toward a brighter future? Besides the "new" names, what exactly was learned? Sadly, this is just another example of MLB stomping on its own product.
2007-12-14 10:47:51
62.   mehmattski
59 Orza has probably some of the most damning evidence against him in the report, sending out memos that steroids weren't all that bad, and warning players that "random" drug tests were coming.

I wish the rest of the media would follow Stark's lead and look at the Mitchell report for what it can do in the future, rather than its flaws in uncovering the past. Instead, it seems that everyone wants to pile on Clemens rather than do anything productive.

2007-12-14 10:49:47
63.   williamnyy23
60 I've read the number in a variety of places. If the price tag was really $20mn, I don't think it changes my point. Of course, one wonders why Selig refused to name the price tag. On a day centered around full disclosure, what was the reason to hide this fact? If I had to guess, it's because the price tag was very high...perhaps high enough to be embarrassing.
2007-12-14 10:57:12
64.   mehmattski
61 Well, kidding about the Marlins' pot-bust aside, did you know that the Marlins back-up catcher was involved in buying and selling steroids from 1998-2002?

Did you know that players in the Arizona Fall League were sneaking over the boarder to get testosterone injections?

Did you know that executives weren't exactly blissfully unaware of the steroid problem, and instead chose to unilaterally ignore it when making personnel decisions (ie Sabean and Epstein)?

Did you know that many players are injecting insulin with HGH, because they are being told it gives a "synergistic effect" (despite no evidence supporting this)?

Did you know that there was a federal investigation that resulted in a man being arrested for distribution of steroids... in 1992?

Did you know there was a coverup following the discovery of steroids and used needles in the car of Manny Alexander in 2000 (the comissioner's office decided not to look into it at all)?

All of those things were new news to me.

2007-12-14 10:59:18
65.   williamnyy23
Not to change the subject, but Viz landed in Milwaukee on a 2 year/$7mn deal. I think the Yankees were wise to avoid that deal.

I also happened to read that Joe Nathan may well be on the block once Santana has been dealt. That would be the perfect acquisition for this Yankee team. Nathan could take over the Joba role, allowing Chamberlain to be fully committed to the rotation. Then, if Mo falters or slows considerably, you'd have your next closer in the fold.

2007-12-14 11:02:19
66.   wsporter
65 Finally some hot-stove. T-Hawk at 1 year and a supplemental pick for Viz and 2 years. Now that's some nice work.
2007-12-14 11:02:48
67.   williamnyy23
64 The only item I was fully aware of and remember was the Alexander case. I am not sure if I had heard about the other incidents when they occurred, but don't remember them now. Either way, I don't see why any of the events (except for the FO discussions) are relevant to the issue if moving forward is the most important thing.
2007-12-14 11:06:51
68.   mehmattski
67 They're important simply because they illustrate the depth and breadth of the "steroid culture." It would be impossible to convince anyone that change is necessary without demonstrating this important point. I'm guessing that's why, in the end, names were named (or McNamee'd).

Without all those items, the Mitchell Report becomes a whining "come on you guys, do something about steroids!" which was what baseball had been doing for the previous few decades, to no avail.

2007-12-14 11:12:44
69.   williamnyy23
68 Was the depth and breadth really in question any more? As for naming names, how does an unfair listing of the accused push the MLBPA closer toward cooperation. Instead of a silly commission, MLB and the MLBPA should have jointly hired a consulting company to formulate a plan and agreed to implement the recommendations. Of course, that wouldn't be as sexy, and certainly wouldn't have shifted blame away from Selig.
2007-12-14 11:13:49
70.   williamnyy23
More on Santana:

It seems as if the Twins are still demanding Reyes from the Mets, and holding out for Buccholz from the Red Sox.

2007-12-14 11:17:46
71.   mehmattski
Well I've enjoyed a good discussion about the major issue of today with some reasonable minds. I'm off, set to drive to the frigid northeast today (tonight I'm only going halfway, to DC). It's 68 degrees in Durham today, it's very tempting to just stay... my parents would not be happy, though...
2007-12-14 11:24:50
72.   Raf
59 I think they were too busy swimming in $$ and/or rebounding after the strike.

As for a "cleaner, brighter, better future," I'll believe it when I see it. The game is doing quite well (trending up in terms of revenue and attendance?), no matter how hard those who are involved try to kill it.

62 Admittedly, piling on Clemens is a lot easier than doing anything productive...

2007-12-14 11:25:19
73.   ms october
65 66 yes, so far so good.

70 good - i hope they do have to give up buccholz to get santana - i don't think a lester centered package cuts it.

71 well drive safe - today is not so bad - but sunday is supposed to suck again. i wonder if arod's drink holder is looking for something to do - he can help me shovel.

i guess it doesn't really matter, but i am curious - where did the "faux" list (with captain varitek, farnso, damon, pujols, among others) that was circulating around the internet yesterday come from? that is who was the source of that list?

2007-12-14 11:30:32
74.   Raf
71 Have a safe trip. I wouldn't mind having 68 degree weather today.

Has anyone caught the Mitchell Report discussion @ USS Mariner?

2007-12-14 11:52:06
75.   OldYanksFan
17 horace-clarke-era...
The issue is that this is a 5 cent report being heralded like a pound of gold. Might some positive come out of this whole affair? Of course! But that is simply a product of shining a bright light on this issue and bringing it to the forefront of the conversation. The 'shining of light' does not excuse a poor report that is not only build on hearsay, but obviously points to NY, as their 2 informants primarily dealt with NY players.

Whatever good comes from this could have come years ago if both selig and Fehr were not stonewalling the issue. Individual players are having the finger pointed at them with the flimsiest of 'evidence' while Selig, Fehr and the owners, who perpetuated this for years are hardly mentioned.

The intent of this report is to divert attention from who is really reponsible. The problem was known years ago. Better testing, education, fines and penalties and all kinds of disincentives could have been in place years ago. All the 'answers' that came from this report were known years ago.

Regardless of the fact that there are some truths in the report doesn't excuse it's poor composition or intent. Selig and Fehr should step down. It wouldn't be bad if they fell on their swords.

2007-12-14 11:59:02
76.   JL25and3
This was the best part of Selig's statement:

"The players who have been named will suffer in the court of public opinion, which is appropriate. However, as Senator Mitchell says, their actions came in the context of baseball's culture at the time, and for that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Any owner, GM or other official who turned a blind eye to information regarding PEDs should have to bear the same scrutiny as the players, and perhaps be disciplined as well.

However, it is clear that I am not the best person to do that, because I must shoulder my share of the responsibility as well. Senator Mitchell specifically names the commissioner as one of the culpable parties, and I accept that judgment. My actions, and my inaction, may not have been deliberate or malicious, but they clearly worked to the detriment of the game I love so much. Therefore, I am resigning as commissioner, effective immediately."

Those were strong, honorable words from a responsible steward of the game.

Wait...he didn't? Oh. Never mind.

2007-12-14 12:15:44
77.   OldYanksFan
49 I prefer to look at things outside the sphere of legality and judge everything in a spectrum of how they help a player.

GREAT POST! This is the issue exactly. This is NOT about morals or legalities, but about gaining an unfair advantage when playing a game. This is what the fans really care about.

2007-12-14 12:27:27
78.   OldYanksFan
57 Of course. You don't need steroids to bulk up, only to build up faster and maybe to a greater extreme. All MLB players could look like weight lifters if they really thought it would help. Posada also 'slimmed down' to get better after he bulked up a bit the previous year.

It would seem like steroids do help you stay healthy for longer in your career. But even so, if you live right and exercise, who's to say you can't do the same thing.

And reading all this, I can't help but think that considering his talent, exercise, diet and conditioning, how much 'extra' did steroids give Bonds? Did it simply change him from Babe Jr. into Babe?

2007-12-14 12:28:25
79.   OldYanksFan
55 Good post William. Tons of speculation but realistic and intelligently done!
2007-12-14 12:37:54
80.   OldYanksFan
59 horace-clarke-era
While the points you make are valid, the fact he had little to work with does NOT justify this report being released in its current content. The statements you make would be reasons why NOT to produce the report. Mitchell did not have the muscle to do a fair and adequate job.

I don't blame Mitchell. But if he really had integrity, and was not a pawn of MLB, or wanted to create something that had use beyond baseball politics, he would not have released this report. I agree he did the 'best he could' given the circumstances. But it was not good enough. It was not NEAR good enough.

Your facts are correct, but I can't agree with you conclusions.

2007-12-14 14:03:03
81.   yankz
A Red Sox friend told me they should take away the 2000 rings.

Don't worry, I am pwning him.

2007-12-14 14:45:56
82.   horace-clarke-era
And we're only just at 24 hours!

OldYanksFan (I'm another, obviously): we can certainly agree to disagree. I think it would have been flat-out ludicrous not to release a commissioned report because you were stonewalled by the players. I think the intelligent response for US to two drug sources (via the feds) and hints of a 3rd (Balco and the Giants clubhouse) is to realize that this is merely a sample of what went on. I think Mitchell says this, in as many words. I think doing the best he could may well be exactly what the game needs, and agree with mehmattski that this will now turn on what the league/owners/players do next. (mehmattski and I appear to have spent the morning disagreeing on various aspects and ended up alarming close in views by afternoon ... I wish to assure all and sundry this was not orchestrated!)

I believe Mitchell's naming names is EXACTLY what will make it more likely the sport will respond. If Fehr and Orza continue to dig in deep now they will have a very hard time avoiding congress.

Someone said a quiet committee report on 'what to do' wouldn't have been 'sexy' enough. Exactly. A toxic culture might well have needed something explosive to pull it out of inertia (lucrative inertia!).

There are still some arguing this both ways: that it is unfairly explosive: 'Poor Roger, just one lame clubhouse guy testified!' AND 'We knew it all along anyhow' ... I find this illogical. I find it absurd to even talk about about the cost of a one-time commission in a 6 billion dollar sport that has done next to zip since forever (worse than that, if you read Mitchell on Sabean or Epstein or Orza).

My conclusions, that you say you don't agree with are simply that the report MAY be damning enough, offer enough hints of much more beyond the available sources and names, and be precise enough in both going-forward proposals AND amnesty looking backwards ... to make the game move. If it does so, we all owe Mitchell a thank you. (Except for those of us who love beefed up sluggers hitting a bazillion home runs.)

You say you don't blame him, but I think you should go further: if Selig and Fehr fall on swords (not gonna happen) OR get it together, it'll be due to this, after all. It is silly to claim he whitewashes owners or the commissioner. He puts a ball squarely in their court and says the ball should have been picked up long ago.

Roger? Now joins Barry. Room at the top.

Hot stove? LaTroy is a fine wash for Viz ... and we get a draft pick now, don't we?

2007-12-14 21:55:50
83.   dianagramr

don't scare me like that!

2007-12-15 08:45:07
84.   JeremyM
I just read an article that says Clemens was "clearly in decline" before taking his (alleged) first steroid shot in 1998 because he was 5-6 at the time. Disregarding how worthless victories are as a stat, this is after his 1997 season where he had a 2.05 ERA. Why is the reporting so bad on this issue? I'm not saying Clemens is clean, because my gut feeling is he wasn't, but my gut feeling means about as much as most of the nonsense peddled as fact.

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