He Injected Him Where? More on the Mitchell Report
One of the benefits of yesterday’s snow-induced half day for Boston Daily was getting home in time to watch Bud Selig and Don Fehr‘s news conferences and absorb the entirety that was the Mitchell Report.
Three things stood out. One, no one came out worse than Roger Clemens. No one. Two, the short era of good feeling between the union and management is deader than Rocket’s career. And three, we’re still not sure what, exactly, the purpose of the whole thing really was.
Let’s go one at a time. First up, Clemens. There are a million and one emotions for fans in this region about Clemens, but none of them should be surprise. The whispers about Clemens, trainer Brian McNamee and Andy Pettitte have been around for years.
However, the graphic details provided by McNamee are devastating.
“According to McNamee, from the time that McNamee injected Clemens with Winstrol through the end of the 1998 season, Clemens’ performance showed remarkable improvement,” the report said. “During this period of improved performance, Clemens told McNamee that the steroids ‘had a pretty good effect’ on him.”
It was not clear when in 1998 that McNamee claims he began giving Clemens injections, but after going 5-6 through the first two months of that season, Clemens was 15-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 22 starts from June through September.
It was humorous to watch Clemens’ defenders on ESPN attack McNamee for being a drug-dealing sleaze. No kidding. And it was Clemens who made him a part of his entourage and brought him from Toronto to New York.
So, are we to believe that sweet, innocent Roger Clemens didn’t know his workout guru was a drug-dealer? Do we also believe Barry Bonds simply made a bad decision to hang out with Greg Anderson?
And then the Easter Bunny called Santa and said, ‘Hey know where I can get some HGH? My back is killing me.’
Two, the union is pissed, and frankly, they should be. There are 85 players named in the Mitchell Report. As union head Don Fehr noted:
“Many players are named,” Fehr said, “their reputations adversely affected forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.”
This was the only power the Mitchell report actually had: public humiliation and shame. Forget Selig’s hollow pronouncement that he would mete out justice on a case-by-case basis. Does he really think the union will allow that now? No chance.
The union is going to take a lot of blame for allowing the steroid culture to flourish, and deservedly so, but understand one thing: The union’s job is to take care of the union. That’s it. They are under no obligation to make baseball clean up its house.
Fehr has every right to be bitterly anger about a report that named names with such a questionable, if any, burden of proof. And if history is any guide, a ticked-off player’s union is bad for baseball management.
Which leads us to point three. Why?
The list of players is so incomplete and so based on hearsay that it threatens to undermine every sensible recommendation and actual revelation (how ’bout those Giants?) contained within. Because Mitchell relied so heavily on an ongoing federal investigation (once again pointed out by the great Howard Bryant) that just happened to involve a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, the names lean heavily toward New York, and specifically the Yankees.
Was anyone surprised by any of the names? They shouldn’t have been. If the ongoing investigation had involved a Red Sox clubbie, or one from Pittsburgh, there would have been more names from those cities, and would anyone be surprised by whatever names appeared? They shouldn’t be.
If baseball had intended the Mitchell report to be a coda for the steroid era, they were dead wrong. All it did was open Pandora’s Box and leave more questions to be answered.