The Mitchell Report -or- Letting the Fox Guard The Henhouse is Just Bad Business
While I was away, the long awaited Mitchell Report came out. For those of you who don’t follow sports or who are reading in France, this was an $20MM investigation headed up by former Senator (and Red Sox employee) George Mitchell in to the use of steroids in Major League Baseball and it hit like an Atom Bomb. There were names, dates, and accusations galore. And ESPN and CNN both ran those big names in a non stop loop at the bottom of their screens. And understand, these weren’t just any old names. These were huge names like Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. America was shocked. Stunned. How could this be?!
That was what I heard, too. “INPY…how can this be?!” “Do you believe it?” “What should the punishment be?!” Until now, I resisted the urge to post my thoughts. I kept thinking that someone, anyone, would step up and express exactly what I was feeling. I waited…and I waited.
And then I waited some more.
I read the coverage diligently, and found it full of words like “shame”, “betrayal”, “outrage”…I saw the “how could they do this to the children?” and “what is wrong with these people” headlines. I read the calls for Roger to be banned from the Hall of Fame and saw the interviews and now I’m here to tell you what I think.
You have got to be fucking kidding me. I mean, are you even remotely close to serious with this shit?! I don’t even know where to begin with all of this because I have such utter and complete contempt for this report and the general public, not to mention the sports writers of America who’s sole responsibility is apparently to make sure that everything can become as close to an episode of the OC as humanly possible.
Here’s where I’ll start;
Do I believe that this report is accurate?
Hell yes I do. My question to you is “why did you need this report to begin with?!” You honestly didn’t think that professional athletes were using performance enhancers? Are you slow? Did you ride that short bus with seatbelts and harnesses to school? You do know that the tooth fairy didn’t actually put that money under your pillow, right? And, consequently, there is no “rejuvenation fairy” that has come along since the 80’s and extended the careers of athletes in the world. Roger Clemens is in his 40’s and throwing a baseball at over 90 miles per hour. Are you kidding me?! My grandfather wasn’t all that much older before he had trouble passing the mustard across the table, but this guy is firing fastballs and you didn’t know? Come on, who are you kidding. You didn’t care then, and you wouldn’t care now unless someone decided to tell you that you’re supposed to care.
But, suddenly, somehow, you are righteously indignant about all of this. “How DARE they?!” And as if that’s not enough, you want to hand out punishments…
Let me put it to you like this; if there were a bar in DC that said to its patrons “hey guys, you can smoke in here….yeah, yeah, I know what the law says but really, it’s all good”, that bar would be full of smoke in 30 minutes. And as the patrons and workers and everyone there benefited from it in their own ways, they’d get more and more creative in their attempts to hide it. The bar is making more and more money, people are loving it, and it’s just kickin’ ass. Then, fast forward a bit…someone spills the beans. Probably some tool who got thrown out (Cough cough CANSECO) for being a douche bag and everyone wants to act surprised. Forget, for just a minute, that there was smoke BILLOWING out of the doors and windows…forget that they are emptying ashtrays out the back door…suddenly, there needs to be retribution…
So, who gets punished?
In this case, it’s the people serving your drinks. Not the owners. The workers. And then, just to make matters a bit more murky, the owners of this bar say “hey, we’re sorry buddy. In fact, we’ve hired our corporate accountant to do some research in to this situation and find out who’s responsible”…and he comes back with a list of who was working in the bar.
That’s the Mitchell Report.
Anyone in baseball that says they didn’t know is lying to you. From Bud Selig to the managers and all the way down to the bat boys. But somehow, the only names in that report, and the only people thrown under the bus, are the athletes.
What a shock.
So you ask me, do I believe that there’s a problem? My answer to you is “grow up”.
My other problems with this whole thing are, in no particular order;
1) How in the name of God did a man who works for a baseball team get the gig doing an investigation in to baseball?! The powers that be have the audacity to say to me and to you, well, he’s a former Senator! His integrity is beyond reproach.”
Umm…what?! Are you high?!
Last time I checked, the biggest problem in this country’s government is (arguably) special interest. Why? Because these Senators and Congressman and mayors and whoever else can all be bought and sold!!! Yet there you sit saying to me with a straight face “this guy’s too honest to be on the take”. W. T. F?! If he’s so honest, why aren’t there any names of owners in there? Or managers? You’re going to tell me that despite the fact that these men are the face of your business, and you see them constantly for months on end, day in and day out, you have no idea if they are up to something? You can’t see them growing exponentially or look at their numbers going up and up and up and say “Hmmm”? Give me a fucking break. And no one seems to care that Georgie couldn’t find ONE person outside of the players and 2 trainers that was at all responsible or guilty?
The fix was in the minute they pulled a guy from the payroll, and there was no way that he was going to nail anyone but the talent. Oh, and just for good measure, how about the fact that there’s not ONE failed drug test among the 80 something players he found, and yet…he decided to name names?
Gee, I can’t imagine.
2) Another issue I have; you think this is baseball’s problem. Here’s where I’m seriously going to blow a gasket. The NFL handed out suspensions to Shawne Merriman and Rodney Harrison for the same thing; PED’s. The Carolina Panthers had a Dr. supplying Christ only knows how many of them INCLUDING THE KICKER with PED’s. Does anyone care? It’s an afterthought. There have been stories about golfers (GOLFERS!!!!) taking Steroids. The entire Tour De France is sponsored by BALCO. Track stars are rotten with it. Boxers and Ultimate Fighters fail tests and yet…it’s just baseball that gets more than a passing mention?!
Professional athletes don’t do anything like normal people. They don’t live like you do. They eat different. They work out different. They sleep different. Their doctors treat them with drugs and therapies that you’ve never heard of…everyone single one of them. And there are millions and millions of dollars on the table. Of course they are taking PED’s!!! You can’t be this naïve America. If I offered you a way to make far, FAR more money at your job by taking something that everyone else was taking, too, you’d jump at it. Don’t lie to me or to yourself. For a fraction of what these people are paid you’d do all kinds of things that you wouldn’t want made public. I’m talking to you and you and hell yes you. Get off your high horse, folks.
3) Wanna know why you’re reading all of this all of the sudden? Because sportswriters are trying to sell you something. These guys who are now writing all these pieces about baseball? These are the same guys who, a few years from now, will be doing the same thing to the NFL, NHL, NBA and whoever else and acting “shocked”. But none of them are saying it now…there’s no groundswell for any sort of universal testing across all pro sports…just more BS from the same guys who wouldn’t dare say anything until someone else does first. These are just the Johnny Come Lately’s…all of them telling you how horrible these people who cheated the game and cheated you and blah blah blah…what a crock. Where were they even a few short years ago? I’ll tell you where; they were calling Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa heroes for saving baseball while pretending not to notice that Big Mac had grown to 150% of the size he’d been as a rookie. Please. You know who I respect? I respect the guys who wrote Book of Shadows (Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams) about Barry Bonds. They said “this guy is using Steroids” and they went after him. The rest of these writers are no better and no different than the View. They sit around clucking like hens clamoring for attention in shrill hysterics about the issue of the hour. None of them actually report anything…they just cluck and crow for your dollars. They don’t care about the game. They don’t care about the players. And they damn sure don’t care about integrity. If they did, they’d have been saying this years ago.
4) This one is the big one. Are you ready?
You don’t know you’re being conned.
You really don’t. Last year baseball surpassed the $6 Billion mark. Think about that…$6 BILLION DOLLARS. In fact, from now on that will be in all caps because that much money deserves no less. Not one less ticket was sold in this country when this whole thing started and not one less ticket is going to be sold. Why? Because at the end of the day baseball can say “we have the Mitchell Report, we are now testing for Steroids, please buy more tickets”. And we alllll will because we got to learn the names of 80 something players that George caught. And what’s the reality of this whole thing? That there is no test for the Drug du Jour, HGH, there isn’t going to be one any time soon, and everyone will go right back to business as usual. From day one, the whole point of the Mitchell Report wasn’t to clean up baseball, it was to create a big splash so that none of you would ask the real question.
The question isn’t “do people cheat?” because for a few million bucks, of course they do. (and as I’ve said, so would you for a lot less) The real question is this;
“Does America’s pro sports empire condone and encourage the use of PED’s?”
And, for the $6 BILLION that baseball alone represents (plus the revenues of the NFL, NHL, NBA, and every other pro sprot) the answer is you’re god damned right they do. They do it because you, the spectator…the common fan, DEMAND that they do. That’s right, you heard me. Think about it; we market these men and women as super human. They can run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than anyone else. But you don’t want to know what goes in to making them that way and you’re damn sure not interested in seeing the game played for the purity of it. You don’t care about singles or the perfectly executed relay throw. Fuck no! You wany home runs and triples! You know what pays their salaries and buys their Ferrari’s? Excitement. You know who knows that better than anyone? Owners. KNow what else they’ve figured out? A team and a league full of average guys who work hard doesn’t create the excitement that a team and a league full of enhanced athletes puts out. You want home runs! Sacks! Spectacular hits and crushing blows! They want your money. And the athletes? They want it, too, but they only get a short time to get a fraction of it. They have to compete with all those younger guys, and those younger guys are doing whatever they can to get that spot, too. There’s greed and ego and all kinds of things involved that you’d like to pretend you’re above, but you aren’t.
Do the math, genius. For $6 BILLION you’d be amazed what you’d condone. And pro sports? They condone highlights above all else. That’s the real issue. But you don’t want to hear that because it’s not as exciting and it damn sure doesn’t sizzle. Those players named will be replaced by others that will cheat just like those before them and those before them. THink this is new? Then ask someone why the investigators were told not to include Amphetamines in there search. Little hint; because all of those guys that played in the “pure eras” were wired for fucking sound…hell, teams used to provide candy bowls full of them!
But Steroids and HGH? Oh yeah, it’s like they suddenly got moral and ethical.
The whole thing stinks, and the only people getting the shaft are the players. And America, you bought it hook line and sinker because of the splashy headlines and the big names. It never even dawned on you to you to ask the real question. Hell, it never even dawned on you to ask the easy questions.
So, what do I think of the Mitchell Report? I think George Mitchell can kindly go fuck himself along with Bud Selig and the other owners who used it to pull the wool over all of our eyes.