Baseball's Mitchell Report Fails to Step Up to Plate With a Plan

Shortly after former Senator George Mitchell released his report on performance-enhancing drug use by major league baseball players, he suggested those singled out be granted amnesty. But he had to know that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was planning to take each violation "case by case" and dole out penalties as he saw fit. By outing a couple of teams worth of players and then washing his hands of the consequences, Mitchell couldn't have been more disingenuous.

Why name names in the first place? It's hard to tell which paragon of good government he resembles more: J. Edgar Hoover or Joe McCarthy. Which sets a worse example for young T-ball players? Drug use or a witch hunt?

The lead dog on this story has been ESPN's Howard Bryant. In "Friction and fractures erode faith in Mitchell's investigation," a lengthy investigative piece written before the report's release, he exposed the flaws of its methodology.

Among them is Mitchell's compromising affiliation with the Boston Red Sox (none on the list), from whose board of directors he's been on hiatus during the investigation and its aftermath. More to the point, in the absence of cooperation by players and their union, he's opted for law enforcement's usual path of least resistance -- squeezing the little guy.

Team trainers, strength coaches and clubhouse attendants feared for their jobs if they didn't cooperate. Worse, Mitchell's investigators pressured them to rat out not only those they knew used performance-enhancing drugs, but to speculate on those who might have.

Crime-stopper Mitchell got his Public Enemy Number One all right: Roger Clemens. While he's at it, why not send Clemens to Gitmo for the threat he poses to our national pastime?

We asked Rich Herschlag, co-author of "Before the Glory," a recent book chronicling baseball players' childhoods and the paths they took to the major leagues, about the effect on lesser-known players whose names cropped up on the list.

"Brian Roberts is the poster boy for what is wrong with the process and the report it produced," he responded. "So let me get this straight -- a one-time roommate. . . says he never saw Roberts doing the stuff or buying the stuff [but] remembers a conversation from at least a couple of years back during which Roberts says he tried it 'once or twice in 2003.'


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