December 13, 2007, - 10:49 am
By Debbie Schlussel
The sports world is abuzz about the Mitchell Report to be released at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, today. Former Senator George Mitchell was commissioned by Major League Baseball (MLB) to investigate the use of steroids in the pro sports league. The report names names and is expected to name 60-80 former and current MLB stars, including many big names that will allegedly “shock you.”
But the study does not delve into illegal drug use in baseball other than steroids. And MLB Commissioner Bud Selig won’t even be at the press conference. He’ll hold his own later in the day.
I think MLB should ignore the report, as it will. Why? Well, if you think calls for Barry Bonds to have an asterisk by his name are bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. Team wins, champions in pennant races, virtually all of baseball’s scores and teams’ records will have to be asterisked. We’re talking a good number of players. It will be too much for baseball to start disqualifying people for what they did in the past. And that will put the sport out of business. Not that I’m worried about these multi-millionaire players and their billionaire boss/team owners. I don’t. But they do care about themselves. And business is business.
Many of the players named will either deny their usage or say that they have since ceased usage of illegal steroids. And, remember, George Mitchell ain’t a court of law. He’s simply a smart but highly overrated former Democratic U.S. Senator from New England.
The only reason owners commissioned this report was to show Congress that it was doing something, so that Congress wouldn’t take away the age-old exemption MLB has from anti-trust laws and further regulate the sport. And MLB owners, through Selig, will say that they’ve already taken steps, enacted new, frequent steroid testing of players, and put in place harsh (in some cases, career-ending) penalties.
The new steps in place basically proscribe MLB from doing anything to the players named in the report, anyway. The new tests take place now and can’t apply to allegations–or even proven instances–of what substances players used in the past. The clever Donald Fehr and the Major League Baseball Players Association made sure of that.
So, the report means nothing. It will just provide fodder for the scandal sheets and bring 60-80 people under a microscope. But, hey, misery loves company. And with 59-79 other people to share in the misery, those named today won’t be the lightning rods Barry Bonds has been.
So, do you want 60-80 plus asterisks and the past few seasons of Major League Baseball asterisked the way some called for that with Barry Bonds?
If not, then the report means nothing.
For once, I agree with my friend and former radio colleague, Detroit Newsistan Sports columnist Rob Parker (a huge baseball fan), who essentially says the same about the Mitchell Report:
[T]he uncovered information — compiled after more than 20 months of interviews and investigations of many baseball personnel — isn’t worth anything and should be taken with a grain of salt. Clearly, it’s nothing more than window dressing for those in Congress and others outside of baseball to prove something was done in light of these revelations. . . .
That’s why commissioner Bud Selig should do nothing. Yes, nothing. No suspensions, no damnation of the sport. And for the first time, it’ll be a good thing.
What’s done can’t be undone.
So unless Selig is ready to wipe out everything during this period — wins, losses, hits, runs, home runs and awards — there isn’t anything that can be done.
You can’t change history, even if it’s lousy. . . .
Still, it’s funny how countless players in the NFL are suspended for steroid use on a yearly basis and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. No one wants the NFL to tear up records or question its integrity of the sport. It’s simply accepted.
And as we’ve seen in cycling, track and field and so many other sports, this is a widespread problem, not just a baseball problem.
The Mitchell Report will tell you baseball has flaws and warts just like the rest of society.
This whole idea baseball has to be perfect and have unblemished integrity is silly.
Selig has to hold on to the idea baseball never has been healthier and is booming. Selig recently announced baseball generated a record-breaking $6 billion in revenue this season. In the storm of all the steroid talk, fans have continued to flock to ballparks all over the country, setting an all-time attendance record three seasons in a row.
Make no mistake about it: That means more than any report — even if it names names.
The marketplace has decided. And the baseball marketplace clearly doesn’t care about steroid use. They want to see home-run races.
Tags: Barry Bonds, baseball, Bud Selig, Commissioner, Congress, cycling, Debbie Schlussel, Detroit Newsistan, Donald Fehr, George Mitchell, George Mitchell & MLB, Major, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association, MLB, MLB Commissioner, National Football League, New England, NFL, pro sports, Rob Parker, Senator, sports columnist, sports world, the Major League Baseball Players Association, United States, USD