It’s been the buzz of the baseball world, but this past week former Senator George Mitchell released his report. It’s an understatement to say that the results are stunning. He did not have subpoena power and couldn’t compel anyone to talk to him and there was the fear that his report wouldn’t reveal much. It did. You can read a list of the players. There were the names of those we expected to be there (Barry Bonds) but there were also players I wasn’t expecting, like Paul LoDuca and Eric Gagne. It appears that many of the players listed were told where to get the steroids from other players.
Aside from the long list of players the other part of this that was so sickening was the implied complicity of management. I was obviously looking for the names of former Padres, but here is what I found with former pitcher Kevin Brown (it’s on page 216). These are notes from an October 2003 meeting of Dodgers officials:
Kevin Brown – getting to the age of nagging injuries . . . Question what kind of medication he takes . . . Effectiveness goes down covering 1st base or running bases. Common in soccer players and are more susceptible if you take meds to increase your muscles – doesn’t increase the attachments. Is he open to adjusting how he takes care of himself? He knows he now needs to do stuff before coming to spring training to be ready. Steroids speculated by GM
Those same notes quote this about pitcher Eric Gagne: “he probably takes medication and tendons and ligaments don’t build up just the muscle.”
There is much more but this gives a flavor. I’m troubled by this because it was clear that not only was there pressure on the players to use steroids, there was also winks and nods from management. There are a few superstars on this list (Bonds, Clemens, etc.) but there are many more “2nd tier” players who used this stuff not for records, but just to make the team. They are competing against those who are cheating and many felt they had no choice if they wanted to stay on a level playing field.
Lots of comparisons are being made to the 1919 Black Sox scandal (this is where 8 players for the Chicago White Sox took bribes to throw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds). I hope it’s not that serious; baseball had a very difficult few years and was only popular again with the rise of Babe Ruth. But the sense of betrayal is the same and I can’t help but feel that some of the fan base will simply leave. I won’t be one of them because I still enjoy watching the game and there are still the Tony Gwynn’s and Cal Ripkin’s out there.