santa cruz wharf

13 December 2007

George Mitchell hit a homerun

The team who compiled the Mitchell Report deserves a place in Cooperstown.

Not only did they fairly and concisely define the problem… they provided workable, viable solutions, and a well-defined road map for the future.

The bottom line is EVERYONE in baseball knew. The owners, coaches, managers, players, agents, batboys and the fans. Not everyone is using…or condoned using…but everyone knew and allowed it to continue. For Selig to act like “okay…NOW I’m gonna do something”…makes me want to smack him. I give him credit for hiring George Mitchell two years ago and spending the millions of dollars. But then c’mon Bud…take the advice. The management and coaching staff are eerily quiet. The Players Union (don’t get me started on their collective bargaining bs) should bear significant responsibility for this mess…and should be the entity picking up the torch to lead the restoration. And any fans who act all shocked and shaken… are quite frankly doing their best impression of an Ostrich.

For the record – no way, no how is Baseball the only sport with “performance enhancing substance” issues, use, and abuse. Current media coverage includes cycling, wrestling and track…but since Lyle Alzado, I can’t recall the last time American Football was in the crosshairs. (remember Lyle died FIFTEEN years ago at the age of 43 from conditions related to his steroid abuse of human growth hormones.) There is no way a significant percentage of those guys in the NFL are innocent of it all.

The “wink-wink nudge-nudge” and “don’t ask don’t tell” mentality toward “performance enhancing substances” is PERVASIVE in both high school and college sports. I know all the lectures about what parents should and should not do. Get real. There are parents who want nothing more than their child to become a famous athlete….and are willing to bet that a few years of “performance enhancing substance” side effects are worth the risk….not only because so many of the multimillion dollar players have used…but because in MOST situations this is the only way to beat out the other kids. If you have a hard time believing this…go stand on the sideline or in the bleachers of any truly competitive highschool sporting event and listen to the parents of the most talented players.

Even for parents like me…who would mostly likely strangle anyone offering my kids this shit…the reality is most kids turn 18 while they are still in highschool…and learn rather quickly they can do all kinds of stuff without a permission slip from Mommy. A kid getting good grades and working to excel in sports…they are not often thought of as a problem.

College level athletes frequently live in a town…or state…different than their parents. And typically grow, mature, and develop significantly in the first few years of school without taking anything. Not to mention by the time they graduate and have the chance to go on to professional sports they are several years into adulthood….and even the most involved parent has only the slightest ability to influence. (nor should we)

I have heard a whole slew of second, third and fourth hand stories. I only know of two situations first hand. One is in baseball at the high school level. And the second is in football at the college level.

In the first….the opportunity to go on to a specific university with a full ride baseball scholarship was dependent on the willingness to take “performance enhancing substances” to make them a better player. This player also had the opportunity to attend a military academy…and did. They are currently serving active duty protecting baseball, apple pie and the American way of life.

In the second case…at a D2 school…two players…both All American making national coverage. One was the defensive captain, one was the offensive captain. Both recruited by the NFL. The kid who took the “performance enhancing substance” went to the NFL following graduation (and is currently playing) …the kid who did not went to work as a software engineer. (I say kids…they were actually young men in their early/mid twenties….with alarmingly attractive uniformed butts.)

Today’s press conferences were all about professional Baseball. Vincent has gotten the brunt of my opinions on this subject in the past few months….but he still lets me sit on Bonds big leather couch…most of the time. I am a San Francisco Giants Fan. (as my father before me) I am a Barry Bonds fan (and his father before him). I’m not gonna sit here and tell you he did not benefit from “performance enhancing substances.” But I am going to be adamant in telling you that everyone he was competing with for homerun records is doing the same. And I suspect…read the report…just about every one of the award winning pitchers Barry was up against was also benefiting from “performance enhancing substances.” This may indeed qualify as cheating. However this also qualifies as a level playing field.

It is important to note Mr. Bonds (Barry not Vinny) has been tested consistently for the past few years. He wasn’t on the juice then. In addition, there were many years PRIOR to the alleged use when his abilities made him truly one of the most outstanding players in the game.

Lots of people do not like Barry Bonds.
Makes no difference to me.
Bonds is an arrogant SOB (strike one)
Bonds is in San Francisco (strike two)
Bonds was sure to break the record (and he's out)

The Federal Grand Jury has reason to believe dozens (if not hundreds) of other players were involved with “performance enhancing substances.” Why were they not forced to testify? How were those actually subpoenaed selected?

Fine. If they can prove Barry Bonds lied to the Grand Jury, prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. But also give the same punishment to everyone who lied to the Grand Jury. Treat them all with equal retribution.....prosecute Marion Jones to the same extent of the law. Bring everyone else named in the Mitchell report to speak under oath. Don’t pick out a handful. Go after them all.

If you want to put little black star next to the Barry Bonds name in the Homerun Record books...fine. But you damn well put the same little black star next to EVERYONE who has benefited from a “performance enhancing substance” and set a record. ALL of them.

Just wait until February…Football is next.


Bond said...

OK...I am so disgusted...not with you dear friend...with what I am reading...and YES, I will be discussing this also...I have never said he was the only one juicing (and you did not say I did), but he is the face of what happened in those 6-7 years...he WAS the greatest ballplayer and would have been celebrated beyond belief even if he had not broken the record...I will stop now, or my post will end up in your comment area!

Hale McKay said...

Your post is very well written about this controversial report and underlying problem of steroids and HGH.

I disagree with your opening, however. Mitchell did not hit a homerun! He foul tipped the third strike into the catcher's mitt.

The report is a pathetic joke. It is merely a rambling report based mostly upon hearsay - almost none of which would hold up in a court of law.

His sources - two individuals who were pressured under the threat of indictment - one a trainer and the other a disgruntled batboy!

He gave us Barry Bonds, the Giambis, Sheffield, Palmeiro and a few others that been previously bagged or have admitted using the illegal substances.

Clemens and Petit - maybe they used the stuff and maybe not - but all he has is the word of man trying to stay out of jail.

Then the (laugh) commissioner avoids admitting he knew about the problem all along.

It will be interesting when IT hits the fan and is digested by the Players Association. Don't overlook the possibility of a potential strike if Commish goes against Mitchell's advice NOT to punish names on the list but to move ahead.

Don't get me wrong, I believe and "Know" in my heart of hearts that this list only scratches the surface. These drugs are rampant - you know it - I know it - the fans know it!

This report ranks right up there with the biggest joke of a report ever - the Warren Commission.

But maybe, just maybe it'll stir up a hornets nest ... for now, it us, the fans who got stung by this waste of time sham.

Travis said...

Very well written. You have made some excellent points and you have made them well.

In my opinion, anyone who takes performance enhancing drugs is a cheat and earns my condemnation.

I disagree with your contention of a level playing field. It doesn't matter. While a significant number of players have used these substances, the rest have not. That is not a level playing field.

Unless every single player was using these substances, then it is not a level playing field. It can't be. Therefore, achievements of cheaters cannot be justified.

That's my opinion.

katherine. said...

Vincent: liked your post as well.

Hale: thanks for the comment and for stopping by...I hope Baseball can be put back together again in time for next season.

Travis: I do not think the cheating can be justified...but Bonds can not be the only one vilified.

Travis said...

Agreed. And I villify all who cheat. And I know many others who do the same. There is no defense of any cheater.

One of my favorite players is a drug cheat. I will not defend his choice and I will not acclaim his achievements while juiced. Cheating is cheating.

Matt-Man said...

Mitchell was one of my favorite Senators because of his statesmanship and thoughtful approach to legislation, and he did an excellent job with this report as well. Cheers Kat!!

Mel said...

HOLY buckets that's a long 'summary'.

Is this like the 'everybody smokes pot and I'm just the one who got caught'?

I'm not well versed on the entire situation (OUGHTA be after reading that summary...LOL) and in my simple little world it all comes back to the person's character, a personal choice and a life....theirs.

Not everybody smokes pot.
I'm glad you got caught.
Now whatcha gonna do?

And why am I suddenly hungry for cookies?

Desert Songbird said...

Great points, Katherine. And I don't for a moment believe that baseball is the only arena in which this happened. Football is a ripe arena for steroid use, and, yes, I remember Lyle Alzado.

As parents, we can only hope that we teach our children enough about risks and consequences and self-respect that they will make informed decisions. The rest is chance.

Dr. Blogstein said...

or how about a little black star next to Babe Ruth's name because he didn't have to face African-American and Latino pitchers?

It is getting harder and harder to compare numbers from generation to generation. Whether it be watered down rosters featuring pitcher that 30 years ago would still be in the minors or ball parks that are built for Little Leaguers to pop one out, everything changes.

We're just coming out of the steroid era. Someone started it and everyone else followed to make sure the playing field was even because millions and millions of dollars are at stake. There are as many great players on "The List" as there are bad players on "The List." It didn't create better players, it just kept them playing longer. I'll get over it.

Dixie said...

A very well written post my dear.

ALF said...

I agree. They may not all be doing it but they all know about it. And I totally agree that all the other sports are in the same boat.

katherine. said...

Travis: I love your heart. I am sorry.

Matt: I almost want to print the whole thing out and read it...I'm a freak.

Mel: laughing...something like that...I would never want to be a professional athlete. (munchies?)

DS: If I were in the NFL I'd be gettin' ready.

Dr B: Billions....six to be exact last year. And yeah...if it were a miracle drug everyone taking it would be great...catch the post I linked to at Second Effort.

Thanks Dixie...(gotta go leave a comment to make her work)

Alf: it is in all sports...maybe not chess...