Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the eve of what, exactly?

In a few hours from now the Mitchell Report, the report on steroid use in baseball, will be released. The impact it will have on baseball will be, umm, yeah. I'm thinking very little.

The report was commissioned by inept commissioner Bud Selig, who is currently trying to salvage his legacy by investigating steroids, much like presidents late in their second terms start getting Israel and the Palestinians to sit down and talk. While Senator Mitchell is certainly a very qualified man to conduct such an investigation, one has to wonder what MLB will do with this report.

As for the report itself, it's going to blame both MLB management and the MLBPA for the letting steroid use run rampant. Basically, it will justify anyone who wants to blame the union for resisting testing or blame management for turning a blind eye. I'm a little disappointed that this gives credence to any of those arguments, because at the end of the day it's the fault of each individual player that stuck an needle in their tukus. (Every company I contract with has rules against me showing up high. I don't need to be tested when I walk in the door on Monday to teach my class to prove I'm not doing drugs. It's this little thing called "personal responsibility".)

The report will also list players who allegedly took steroids. This means essentially nothing. There will be players that we all suspected took steroids, there will be players we never thought took steroids, and almost every one of them will deny it.

But the real question is - what about the records? What about the stats? Will any of that change? Probably not. I'm guessing there will be a lot of talk about the report. (ESPN, which is rapidly turning SportsCenter into the Nancy Grace Show, will be covering the release of the report starting at 12N Central time.)

Will Major League Baseball actually suspend any players? Probably not. Most every player was not given any form of due process, so suspending players would face stiff legal challenges. Granted, any legal proceedings could have the added side-effect of forcing players to take the stand, but I still doubt doubt it will come close to that.

Will Major League Baseball take away stats? That would be a completely unprecedented move, and one that a very weak commissioner will be unlikely to take. And even if he did, what stats do you take away? How far back do you go? What formula do you use to convert juiced stats to clean stats? Nobody knows.

So what are we left with then? Well, at the end of it all, I think we're left right back where we started. There's a ton of blame to be spread around, there's players who we all suspect did steroids, and the fans are left wondering if what we're watching at the ballpark is actually real.

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