Many legacies will be tarnished forever
Originally Published: December 13, 2007By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
Was it really worth it?C'mon. Was it really worth all that money, all that time, all that trouble? Was it really worth it to relive all those years of ugliness, shred all those reputations, embarrass the sport of baseball all over again? The answers to that string of questions can be summed up with one pithy little word: no. I thought 20 months ago that the Mitchell report was a lousy idea. And here I am, having read 359 scintillating pages of it (so far), just as convinced of that as ever. But now that it's out there for your downloading delight, right here on this very site, Bud Selig's sport won't be the same. Can't be the same. Shouldn't be the same. How has the Mitchell report changed baseball's landscape? Here are five ways it will undoubtedly leave its mark:
1. The Rocket's legacyThere are 86 players named in the Mitchell Report. But among the "new" names, there's only one living legend. And if you guessed we don't mean Josias Manzanillo, way to go.
Yes, who among us will ever look at Roger Clemens quite the same after the Mitchell report? Who among us will ever be able to forget what it felt like to read eyeball-rattling phrases like, "McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone," in this report? Not this particular observer. That's for darned sure. Is there any doubt the Mitchell report will wreak havoc on Clemens' legacy, reputation and Hall of Fame vote totals? Is there any doubt that 99 percent of all Americans already regard George Mitchell's conclusions about the Rocket as immutable fact, without even examining them closely? None. Right? So you probably don't even care that Clemens' lawyer was using words like "slander" to characterize all this. You probably don't even care that the evidence is more tenuous than you'd think. You probably don't even care that two attorneys who were surveyed Thursday, both of whom now work in the sports world, say they're extremely dubious that the allegations against Clemens would hold up in court. Not even in a civil case. You might find that surprising, considering that Clemens is one of the few players in this report whose alleged use of illegal substances was actually witnessed by a living, breathing human being (trainer Brian McNamee) who then spoke with the Mitchell crew. But one attorney -- a man who doesn't represent players, by the way -- said the entire case is "all based on one guy [McNamee], and there's no documentation." True, there are checks written by McNamee to the human smoking gun, Kirk Radomski. But the report tells us, right there on Page 174, that Radomski admitted that McNamee never told him that Clemens (or Andy Pettitte) used steroids or HGH. It was merely implied, Radomski said. Those implications were good enough for George Mitchell -- obviously. But the other attorney we surveyed said that in an actual court, a judge would tell a jury that the testimony of a witness like McNamee, who had made a deal with the government, was "not sufficient for conviction. There must be independent corroboration." So what's the corroboration? Information supplied by another witness who made a deal with the government. Uh-oh. Now nobody disputes that the circumstantial evidence here is still the most powerful content in this whole report. And nobody believes that the American public will give a flying forkball about those reasonable doubts. Heck, the jury of public opinion had rendered its verdict 15 seconds after this report hit the nearest TV screen. So Clemens' reputation has already gurgled down the drain. But if there's anyone out there who still believes in that old-fashioned innocent-until-proven-guilty stuff, you might want to read that Clemens section over one more time.
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesRoger Clemens has won 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards in his 24-year career.
2. The commish's legacyNot every commissioner would spend this much money to dredge up so many old wounds and inflict this much humiliation on his own sport. So give Bud Selig credit for that. He knew this report would be gruesome, and he launched it all the same.
He didn't even care how much it cost. He reiterated that one more time Thursday, when he answered a question about the outrageous price tag by saying: "There was a higher cost in not doing this." "I didn't want somebody to say some day, 'What were they hiding?' " said Selig. And now they won't. Theoretically. So we'll salute the courage it took for the commish to plow ahead with this dubious exercise, against the advice of everyone around him. We sure hope some good comes of it. But while this report never quite includes the words, "Bud Selig screwed up," it also casts a shadow from which the commissioner can't possibly escape. After all, this sport, with its runaway drug culture, was Bud Selig's sport. And this report, in laying out the history of this mess, supplies a timeline that makes it clear Selig should have been aware of steroids -- or at least asking penetrating questions -- years, if not a whole decade, before he did. Yet when the commish was asked point-blank Thursday if he thought he was "at fault" in any way, he danced away from uttering anything even close to those words -- saying instead that "what we need to do is look forward now." It wasn't exactly Mark McGwire saying he wasn't here to talk about the past. But it was definitely tough to miss the irony. So if the commissioner thinks he's going to be exonerated because he empowered George Mitchell to collect 20 years of dirty laundry, ehhh, sorry, Bud. "You can't be the commissioner of an institution that's diseased," said one baseball man Thursday, "and not take some responsibility. It's that simple."
Bryan Bedder/Getty ImagesThe Mitchell report makes several recommendations on how MLB can keep the game clean in the future, and Bud Selig vows to make changes.
3. Those other namesThe names in the Mitchell report just keep on coming.
The main points in this report are good. But he really could have written this, and drawn the same conclusions, without the names. And I wish he would have.
--One baseball man
4. "Crime" and punishmentGeorge Mitchell could not have been more clear about one thing in this report. He just about pleaded with Bud Selig, in writing, to resist the urge to start doling out suspensions to the "guilty." The commish, however, has other ideas. He's going to "take action where he thinks it's appropriate." That sounds like tough, decisive, commissioner-esque talk, all right. But the commish had better understand that if he chooses to go this route, he'll have a battle royale on his hands. By our count, of the 86 players named, only eight were actually witnessed using any of these substances -- and five of them were in the minor leagues at the time, long before Selig implemented his minor league steroid program.
5. The fight for a better tomorrowFor 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. 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. There does need to be a full-time baseball steroid czar who will be available to follow every lead. There does need to be a sport-wide edict that requires, in the report's words, "all information about possible use must be reported immediately and directly." This sport does need a log of all the packages that get sent to big league clubhouses. This sport does need to start testing potential first-round draft picks.
I have to do something about it. ... And I think the sport will be better off.
--Commissioner Bud Selig
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THE MITCHELL REPORT
On March 30, 2006, baseball commissioner Bud Selig asked former Sen. George Mitchell to investigate steroid use in baseball. Now, the report is out.
The Mitchell report• Mitchell delivers his report | Read it (pdf)
• Players: Who's named in the report
• Recommendations from the report
• Report reaction: What they're saying
• Drugs listed in report | The Dope On Steroids
• Evidence may limit Selig's punishment choices
• Mitchell defends naming stars in report
• Owners praise Selig, support extended tenure
• Seligs hopes to finish review by spring
Clemens news• Reports: New name surfaces in Clemens saga
• Date set for Clemens, McNamee depositions
• McNamee unlikely to get congressional immunity
• Mitchell reportedly tried to contact Clemens twice
• McNamee's attorney defends immunity request
• Source: Clemens hedges on giving deposition
• Report of Clemens abscess raises more questions
• Astros unsure if Clemens to help at camp
• Clemens' accuser meets with federal prosecutors
• Rocket reps: McNamee 'avoiding' being served
• Source: No immunity expected for Clemens
• Laywer: McNamee 'avoiding' being served papers
• Clemens denies steroid use in taped conversation
• Trainer's lawyers alert Congress to second tape
Pettitte news• Pettitte undecided if he'll testify before Congress
• Pettitte gets new lawyer for congressional hearing
• Pettitte admits using HGH in 2002
Grimsley/Radomski documents• Unsealed documents: Radomski | Grimsley
• Federal agent Jeff Novitzky's sworn affidavit
• Watson denies allegations in Grimsley affidavit
• Hearst wants goverment. to explain conduct
Other News• Players, owners try to modify drug agreement
• Fehr: Foreign players deserve equal drug penalties
• Pujols bans TV station that erroneously named him
• MLB establishes drug investigations unit
• Report: Knoblauch ends silence on steroid report
• Kent: Players should undergo blood testing
• Rose investigator says Mitchell undermined report
• Report: Congressional hearing postponed
• MLB to crack down on clubhouse security
• Congressman blasts Selig on steroids policy
• Report: Players may still testify at hearing
• Report: MLB players won't testify for Congress
• Rose says users 'making a mockery' of game
• Selig defends baseball's drug-testing program
• Post-'03 cases face most MLB scrutiny
• Congress calling new hearings on steroids, HGH
• Report: Deal with feds led to McNamee testimony
• Report: Roberts admits one-time steroid use
• Nats prez: Team had no advance copy of report
• Indians' Byrd discusses HGH use with MLB
• Vina admits HGH use, but disputes steroid claims
• MLB's man: Progress in urine test to detect HGH
• O's respond to Mitchell findings
• A-Rod's reply to Canseco: I never doped
• Bush: MLB must take report seriously
• Pujols sets record straight on inaccurate report
• Reliever Donnelly 'sick' over inclusion in report
• Former D-back Cabrera denies using steroids
• Lowell calls for stronger steroid testing
Analysis• Munson: Delay means Congress serious
• Wojciechowski: Rocket's logic fizzles
• Assael: Clemens throws up and in at McNamee
• Munson: Clemens' lawsuit is part propaganda
• Olney: There's one thing Clemens can't change
• Crasnick: A tale of two Rockets on "60 Minutes"
• Neyer: Time to stop behaving like a child
• Bryant: Odds are against Clemens in interview
• Munson Q&A: Clemens, McNamee on the hot seat
• Neyer: Investigate all players
• Wojciechowski: Time for Clemens to speak up
• Neyer: Does HGH enhance performance?
• Hill: Pettitte's apology was a joke
• Stark: Pettitte no different than Pats' Harrison
• Stark: Clemens, Bonds tales similar, yet different
• Bryant: Selig must address steroids era records
• Santangelo admits HGH use; will 'face the music'
• Helyar: Not good for short-term business
• Fish: Baseball's steroids crisis management
• Crasnick: Clemens' Hall of Fame chances?
• Gammons: Drug culture quite slimy
• Hall of Fame voters speak out on Clemens
• Stark: Indelible impact on the game
• Wojciechowski: Thaw needed in cold war
• Bryant: Mitchell report flat without feds
• Fainaru-Wada: Report sheds light on Bonds
• Crasnick: Recently acquired players named
• The man behind Clemens, Pettitte bombshells
• Munson: Legal challenges troublesome
• Fish: Congress reacts quickly to report
• Helyar: Anti-doping experts don't agree on report
• Nelson: Fehr, MLBPA kept in dark on report
• Neyer: Non-surprising names
• Neyer: Scout's telling take on Gagne
Video• Complete coverage
Audio• David Justice on The Herd
• Best of Mike & Mike, on report's fallout
• PTI discussion over report's release
• Michael Kay Show
• ESPN.com's Keith Law
SportsNation• SportsNation reacts to Mitchell report
• What do you think of it?
• Fan blogs: How fans are reacting
More• Mitchell investigation timeline
• Kirk Radomski timeline
• List of suspended MLB players