Thursday, December 13, 2007


Needles and Pins

The Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball is said to include "several prominent Yankees".

ESPN reported this morning that one of those names is Roger Clemens. The Rocket's (and Andy Pettitte's) former trainer is said to have told Mitchell that he supplied Clemens with steroids.

If this is true, that means that arguably the best position player (Barry Bonds) and the best pitcher of the current era may have padded their stats with performance-enhancing drugs.

The report is to be released today at 1 2 P.M.

UPDATE (1:00 PM): Barry Bonds, obviously, is facing a trial for perjury in the BALCO steroids case. It will be some months before that is resolved. Depending on how that trial goes, the appearance of Roger Clemens in the steroids story may, ironically, enhance Bonds' chances of going to the Hall of Fame. Many sportswriters were saying that they wouldn't vote for Bonds because of the steroids issue -- even though he had already amassed a Hall of Fame career before he apparently started juicing (circa 1999). If it now looks like Clemens started doing the stuff around the same time, will sportswriters make the samed conclusion that the Rocket should be kept out -- or will they conclude now that this is a completely tainted era (including the best pitcher and the best player, among many others) where players should be judged on their stats apart from when they started taking stuff (if that can be ascertained). Keep in mind that if Bonds never plays again and Clemens officially retires (as it is now almost certain he will), they would both be eligible for the HOF in 2012.

While this isn't a good thing to contemplate, I'm thinking that Major League Baseball is "happy" that a big white superstar like Clemens has been implicated. There was an undercurrent in some articles that Bonds was being persecuted because he was black -- while white stars like Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi hardly got much attention. Now, of course, the main reason for that is that Bonds was still playing and he was chasing one of the sports most cherished records. McGwire was thoroughly humiliated after his 2006 congressional hearing -- an appearance that cost him election to the Hall of Fame the next year. Meanwhile, the majority of players suspended for steroids/HGH use throughout baseball (including the minors) have been Latino.

Fairly or not, having a white superstar gets MLB off the hook of looking like this is an attempt to unfairly target minority players. (Yes, I recognize that players like Rick Ankiel, David Segui and Paul Byrd have been named in previous performance enhancing stories, but they aren't in the same category as a Bonds or Clemens).

UPDATE II (2:15 PM): Here's the full Mitchell Report -- all 400 pages! This list was circulating around earlier today. Use it guardedly, as a possible, ahem, "cheat-sheet" to compare with the official report.

UPDATE III: Current and former New York Yankees players of some prominence mentioned in the Mitchell Report: Clemens, Giambi, Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Ron Villone...

UPDATE IV: Sports Illustrated reports that this is hardly the end of the "naming of names." Ongoing investigations will inevitably bring more names to light.

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