Mitchell Report due to be released next week
NEW YORK -- Baseball is about to get its official boxscore on the Steroids Era.
It's the Mitchell Report, the findings of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use that has tarnished some of the game's greatest stars and records.
Several media outlets, including ESPN, have been told it could be released as soon as next Thursday.
While critics are sure to claim it's one-sided and outdated, it has given players and executives cause for pause and led some to fear a modern-day Black Sox scandal.
"Well, it ain't Merry Christmas or Happy New Year for somebody," Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Shining light into the shadows, the 74-year-old Mitchell brought experience from many fields. The former chairman of The Walt Disney Co., he once was offered a spot on the Supreme Court by President Clinton and famously challenged Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings.
But he is also a director with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, a role players say makes him hopelessly conflicted and an agent of commissioner Bud Selig, who appointed him. Players also claim Mitchell refused to show those accused the evidence against them, denying them a chance to refute the allegations.
For now, Selig claims not to know what's inside the report. Suffice to say, midway between Boston wrapping up the Fall Classic and the start of spring training, there are plenty of jittery people around the majors.
"Obviously, it can't be really good," New York Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "If there's some really, really big names I'm sure it's going to be a real impact in some ways."
Outfielders Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons, linked in media reports to receiving human growth hormone, were suspended Thursday for the first 15 days of next season. The penalties are an indication how baseball might treat any players named by Mitchell.
Although some say Barry Bonds' home run record -- and milestone ball -- should be marked with an asterisk, Mitchell noted the Hall of Fame vote in which Mark McGwire was picked on just 23.5 percent of ballots, nowhere near the 75 percent needed for induction.
That election in January was considered the first test on how history will view a period when bulked-up stars amassed bulked-up stats.
"If nothing else, the results of the Hall of Fame voting last week, and the reaction to it, offer fresh evidence that this issue will not just fade away," Mitchell said then. "Whether you think it fair or not, whether you think it justified or not, Major League Baseball has a cloud over its head, and that cloud will not just go away."
To some, the drumbeat of suspicion is falling on deaf ears.
"Now when it comes out, more people seem to be numb to it," former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly said this week. "If it's not some huge name, they don't even pay attention anymore."
Said Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost: "I don't care one way or the other, to be honest with you."
Hired by Selig in March 2006, Mitchell and his staff spent millions of dollars interviewing people and collecting evidence. Their task: Provide a history of what happened off the diamond during a time when home run marks that had lasted for decades fell as suddenly strong sluggers changed the balance between pitchers and hitters.
Previously undisclosed names could be tied to steroids and HGH, thanks to the cooperation of former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. A national investigation led by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney's office is also believed to have provided evidence to Mitchell.
Active players have largely resisted cooperating -- the Yankees' Jason Giambi is the only one known to have spoken to the inquiry. However, retired players have spoken with Mitchell, who did not have subpoena power.
Selig's decision to launch an official investigation followed the release of "Game of Shadows," in which San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams said Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs for at least five seasons beginning in 1998.
Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's career home run record in August, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he lied to federal investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs.
The home run king was arraigned in U.S. District Court on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice stemming from a Nov. 15 indictment. If convicted, he could spend more than two years in prison.
Bonds, currently a free agent who hopes to play in 2008, has denied knowingly using illegal performance-enhancers. He nonetheless became the face of steroid allegations while dozens of other major- and minor-leaguers tested positive.
"I think we're all eager to get this era behind us and to get steroids out of this game, growth hormone out of the game, get things that change the competitive balance other than hard work and a desire to be the best ballplayer you can be," Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
To former World Anti-Doping Agency leader Dick Pound, baseball is an outlaw sport, refusing to agree to WADA's standards for testing and discipline.
But athletes in U.S. team sports, protected by collective bargaining agreements and American labor laws, have no interest in international standards.
"I think if you look at attendance, if you look at the health of the game right now, that would suggest that fans have digested what information exists and perhaps assumed that the problem has been addressed, at least for the moment," San Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson said.
While cycling has been hurt by doping allegations, Selig repeatedly says this is a golden age for baseball. The sport drew a record average of 32,785 fans to games this year, breaking the previous mark of 31,423 that was set in 1994 -- before a 7½-month players' strike caused a steep drop.
The major leagues set a total attendance mark for the fourth straight season, drawing 79.5 million, up 4.5 percent from last year's 76 million. Performance, thus far, has been what has largely determined players' reputations, not whether they are clean.
"That may unfortunately be the case," Alderson said.
By hiring Mitchell, Selig gave himself time to see what other information would emerge. Sensitive to what's written about baseball and himself in newspapers and what is said on the airwaves, Selig acts at a deliberate pace.
Selig has maintained he didn't realize performance-enhancing drugs were an issue until 1998, when The Associated Press reported McGwire used androstenedione, a testosterone-producing pill that baseball did not ban until 2004.
When players showed up with bigger biceps and hat sizes at spring training in those years, many in baseball suspected something was going on, but no one could prove it. Once the games started, attention turned to the field.
Even now, with the Mitchell report looming, many fans are more focused on what moves their favorite teams are making.
"We're all kind of desensitized," Randolph said. "There will be a reaction, but I think that's really kind of always short-lived and you've got to pick up and move on."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
THE MITCHELL REPORT
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