A few minutes ago, former Senator George Mitchell released his report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The full report is already available for download on MLB.com. Virtually none of the conclusions were surprising. Both MLB and the MLBPA bear responsibility, along with pretty much anyone else involved with baseball in the last quarter-century.
Some of the names listed in the report were more surprising (Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne, Mo Vaughn, Paul Lo Duca) than others (Clemens, Bonds – though with no new evidence on Bonds). Mitchell seems to have done a good job downplaying his “list,” though. The list gives baseball fans like myself something to talk about. It puts faces to a group of people we knew existed, and it allows us to point fingers at and speak from our soapboxes until there’s no one left to listen.
There are almost certainly more names to be found, and I’m sure there will always be people looking for them. A large number of players in this report were ratted out through the connections of Kirk Radomski (Mets clubhouse attendant) and Brian McNamee (Yankees trainer), so it’s possible that Mitchell’s list is only a small fraction of the whole.
None of that is important, though, now. Mitchell basically came out and said so during his press conference. What’s important is curbing the use of harmful and illegal drugs by influential Major League Baseball players. A stronger testing program is necessary in baseball (and all other pro sports) for the purpose of eliminating players’ incentives to use drugs, if only so that we can finally have some closure on the steroid era.
Even if the MLB and MLBPA continue to flounder, look the other way, and deny the problem (or its implications) in the face of this report, people will still watch baseball. I will still watch baseball. There’s no going back to change the past, so what’s important now is allowing the focus to return to the game itself. Even when it’s played and run by imperfect people, it’s still a beautiful game.