Thursday, December 13, 2007

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Open Mitchell report thread

Comment away on the imminent arrival of the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball here.

As a Red Sox fan, I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I don't want to see any players from the 2004 and 2007 World Series teams implicated in the report. No matter how you slice it, the inclusion of key names wipes some of the luster off of those victories.

On the other hand, as a baseball fan, I have to hope that at some Red Sox name shows up on the list. Why? Howard Bryant's pre-release critique of Mitchell's techniques at already highlights one line of attack:

Tapping Mitchell, a Red Sox director, to lead the investigation furthered suspicions around baseball that the Red Sox might be treated more favorably in his report than the other clubs. That issue came to the forefront when word leaked just before the pivotal Game 6 of October's ALCS between Cleveland and Boston, won by the Red Sox, that Indians pitcher Paul Byrd had purchased human growth hormone. A day later, Mitchell released a statement denying any involvement in the Byrd leak.

"It doesn't make a difference what they say," an American League source said regarding Mitchell. "He's one of them."

Now, I think this is a horses#$t allegation (and to his credit, Bryant later writes: "It didn't come from Mitchell," a league source said of the Byrd leak. "It's ridiculous. Does anybody think that George Mitchell would risk everything he's built over his career just to help the Red Sox win a game?") but if a sufficient number of Red Sox are named, that criticism will be defused -- which would be good for baseball.

Comment away.

UPDATE: Due to a lovely four-hour commute to travel less than 10 miles, I wound up listening to both George Mitchell and Bud Selig's press conferences. Mitchell sounded pretty good; Selig sounded like a complete ass.

Here's a link to the report itself.

As for my concern regarding the Red Sox -- hoo, boy. There were no current Red Sox players named -- but Eric Gagne got on the list! As Seth Mnookin concludes:

It turns out that the biggest favor Gagne may have done Boston is sucking ass for the second half of the season–now, at least, no one can point to him as one of the reason’s for the team’s success.
ANOTHER UPDATE: From the report itself:
A number of studies have shown that use of human growth hormone does not increase muscle strength in healthy subjects or well-trained athletes. Athletes who have tried human growth hormone as a training aid have reached the same conclusion. The author of one book targeted at steroid abusers observed that "[t]he most curious aspect of the whole situation is that I've never encountered any athlete using HGH to benefit from it, and all the athletes who admit to having used it will usually agree: it didn't/doesn't work for them.

The primary attraction of human growth hormone for athletes seeking performance enhancing effects appears to be that it is not detectable in any currently available drug test. In addition, because human growth hormone stimulates growth in most body tissues, athletes use it to promote tissue repair and to recover from injury.

So here's a question -- why care so much about HGH?

posted by Dan on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM


This report is going to be a preposterous joke. It is going to be 100% unverifiable hearsay (this guy told me that guy used steroids!) That anyone in the commissioner's office believed this would be a good idea, or have any kind of positive outcome is insane. It is virtually certain that some of the people the Mitchell team interviewed used this process to settle scores, and unless they release ALL of their source data, the report has to be taken as a total work of fiction.

posted by: John Jenkins on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

In the short term there will be no winners in this situation, only losers. But, in the long term the fans will be winners because it will bring the entire issue into the light where it belongs. This can be the change point, beyond which lies a clean game.

posted by: Useless Sam Grant on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

I think the "change point" referred to above has already come and gone. Public opinion is already that baseball is, or has been, rife with performance enhancers. This report is media fodder, and very little else.

That being said, my personal take is that opinions of teams and their accomplishments won't be affected by the report. Individual players' reputations will probably suffer, but how could I think less of a team's championship with a named player when I'm convinced that the other team had just as much abuse going on (and just didn't get caught)?

posted by: Justin on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

If baseball was actually serious, they'd institute competitive cycling style drug testing.

posted by: Nicholas Weaver on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

I am a far cry from a garden variety conspiracy theorist, but after reading the report I have to say the case for some pro-Red Sox tinge is kind of laying out there. No Varitek? He's been mentioned so many times in the past, and has undergone the phsycial changes we normally associate with steroid use. I dunno.

posted by: garthiorg on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

I'm not that surprised not to see Varitek on the list because looking at the report, it seems like Mitchell was only able to name the players he could get through a limited amount of trainers, clubhouse guys, etc... Most of the players he names were given directly to him with evidence. I am sure he had suspicions about plenty of other players, but without the evidence, what can you actually do?

posted by: tancona on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

The fact that Gagne could be juiced and STILL suck so bad is a mindblowing accomplishment in and of itself.

posted by: Phil K on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

Actually, this investigation is nothing more than a wash. There was very little co-operation from the players union since they have all been trying to cover for each other.

Suddenly, we are all supposed to believe that Roger Clemens is the one of the few pitchers on steroids... GIMME A BREAK ! His HOF chances have taken a huge hit, though. Wonder what advise Clemens gave Schilling ?

The sport needs to be desperately cleaned up - the regular season needs to be cut down by a good 15 games.

posted by: NS on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

I think that if one has any desire to view this as a thorough investigation, then the techniques used by the investigators is seriously suspect. Essentially, they had a couple of guys up against the wall that they were able to milk for names, and a few obvious leads that they followed up on. Catching people like Clemens, Sheffield, Barry BALCO et al is no great accomplishment, nor is it representative of the scope of the problem.

Notably, management and ownership gets more or less a free pass -- the people who acquired, monitored and traded these juicers are given only a few words to the effect that "it's everybody's fault." It seems likely that Selig likes this report because it creates the illusion of closure without in any way threatening the architecture of baseball. Thus, we get a familiar story: a few bad apples acting without the knowledge or consent of higher ups.

I really think it would be quite misguided to think that the fact that no '04 or '07 Sox were included is exculpatory. If anything, the fact that Theo grabbed Gagne despite strong evidence of his PED problem seems to undercut the idea that owners and managers (and particularly the Sox) were above the fray. I respect Theo's skills as a GM a great deal, and I find it very hard to believe that he was either unaware or that his teams were completely clean.

posted by: Skeptic on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

Ah well, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in about 75 days. Hardly anyone cares about this now, no one will care by then.

posted by: Useless Sam Grant on 12.13.07 at 11:55 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?