Jan 30, 2013, 3:35 PM EST
George Mitchell, the man behind and namesake of the Mitchell Report, was on Chuck Todd’s show on MSNBC this morning to talk about the latest PED business out of Miami. He said something pretty sensible:
“Every society has laws against robbery and murder, yet everyone knows that robbery and murder are not going to end. It’s managing an ongoing human problem. That’s the case with performance-enhancing drugs. It’s a problem of…keeping pace, reducing the incentives to use and…increasing vigilance, regulation and punishment for those who use.”
Sensible, but unfortunately we don’t treat it like that. Instead, we treat it as a scandal/parlor game in which we care more about the names of users for their own sake than we do about the underlying problem and spend far more mental effort on the former than the latter.
Of course the reason we do that is because of George Mitchell’s report itself. It was the Mitchell Report which set the tone of how we discuss PEDs in baseball. It was the Mitchell Report which decided that the most interesting and important thing about steroids in baseball was who used and who didn’t as opposed to how PEDs get into the game, what they mean for the game, how they damage it and how they damage the users. It did so by having as its climax a woefully incomplete naming of names — and it was the names that got all of the press — as opposed to anything approaching a real understanding of the issue. It was George Mitchell who took Jose Canseco’s lead and turned PEDs into a gotcha game as opposed to using his report as a means of giving us a better understanding of PEDs and their role in baseball.
And that’s not a trivial concern. Because if Mitchell is right about PEDs being a chronic, human problem, it would be a much easier problem to get at if we did not have a culture in which 98% of the energy involved in any PED story was dedicated to naming a name as opposed to understanding the circumstances at play. It would be easier to combat PEDs if we understood any of the following factors (which I’ve identified in the past), none of which the Mitchell Report was at all interested in exploring:
- How often do players use?
- What’s the profile of an average user?
- When do users actually start using? High school? College? In the minors? After making The Show?
- Is drug use a personal thing? Specifically, do guys decide on their own, based on their own personal experiences to use steroids, or is it a peer pressure thing in which certain clubhouses or cliques within them promote a “steroid culture?”
- How do players connect with their dealers? Word of mouth, or do the dealers seek out their customers?
- What dealers — besides the dumb ones named in the Mitchell Report who took personal checks and shipped drugs to ballparks — are the big players, as opposed to which players are the big users?
- Are non-users choir boys who have moral objections, or does the fear of the dangers of steroids and/or a belief that they simply don’t need them inform their decision making?
- What impact do steroids have on actual performance, both actual and perceived?
These are questions which were never answered and never asked by the Mitchell Report. Indeed, the Mitchell Report and everything that has followed has evinced a profound lack of curiosity about such topics. Mitchell gave drug dealers immunity and focused on ratting out those who were in the best position to educate Major League Baseball about the nature of its drug problem.
We study crimes like the ones Mitchell mentions in order to figure out why they happen and how best to combat them. Those studies do much to inform our law enforcement strategies. They go together. But George Mitchell and Major League Baseball — by treating the players like criminals rather than resources at the time of the Mitchell Report — blew their best chance to truly get a handle on the problem of performance enhancing drugs. Baseball has been playing catch-up ever since.
As I mentioned yesterday, baseball has done a pretty good job playing catch-up. It has taken over five years, but it’s getting there. One wonders where we’d be, however, if George Mitchell hadn’t blown it so spectacularly with his famous, should-be infamous report.
Dec 4, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
A bullpen pickup for the Cubs, via USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale … The #Cubs signed left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year contract believed to be for $1.425 million. — Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 5, 2013 Wright had a 3.69 ERA and 55/19 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings this summer between the Astros and…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:18 PM EST
From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Yankees have agreed to a one-year contract with utilityman Kelly Johnson. It’s believed to be worth about $3 million and is only pending a physical. Johnson, who can play third base, second base and some corner outfield, batted .235/.305/.410 with 16 home runs and 52…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:34 PM EST
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has the inside info: The David Price sweepstakes is expected to heat up later this week, multiple executives with interest in the left-handed ace told Yahoo Sports, as the Tampa Bay Rays begin to survey the market for the former Cy Young winner and consider whether to trade him. Passan…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
From Andy Martino, the Mets beat writer at the New York Daily News: A new possibility for shortstop has emerged for the Mets, as the team plans to send scouts to a showcase this weekend for Cuban defector Erisbel Arruebarruena, according to sources. The 23-year-old Arruebarruena, who has drawn comparisons to Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, was…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:37 PM EST
According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, who has translated a Wednesday evening report from Sanspo in Japan, officials at Nippon Professional Baseball headquarters are prepared to accept a new outline of posting system rules from MLB execs. It’s not exactly clear at this point what their final agreement is going to look like —…
Dec 4, 2013, 6:23 PM EST
There was a report Sunday stating that the Cubs’ preference with Jeff Samardzija is to work out a long-term contract extension. But it appears that those negotiations have lost all momentum. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is hearing that the Chicago front office plans to “do some serious listening” on the 28-year-old right-hander at next week’s Winter…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:16 PM EST
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski was initially coy last week when asked if Miguel Cabrera would be moving from third base to first base following the Prince Fielder trade, but today he admitted that’s the plan. No surprise, certainly, as Cabrera was banged up physically a lot this year and has long been stretched defensively…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:45 PM EST
Joe Nathan‘s deal with the Tigers is now official and it’s a two-year contract believed to be worth $20 million with a team option for 2016, when the closer will be 41 years old. Nathan made the right call to turn down his $9 million player option with the Rangers, correctly predicting that he could…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
As a follow-up to yesterday’s reports that the Mariners were making a serious run at Robinson Cano, now Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports that the free agent second baseman and his agent met with the Mariners in Seattle. Kernan’s source told him “the meeting went very well.” There’s also been some recent…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Mark Trumbo has been linked to various teams in trade rumors, but yesterday Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto tried to squash that speculation by telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times: I wouldn’t even say we’re willing to trade Mark. We haven’t been out there shopping Trumbo. At the end of the day, our…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:19 AM EST
They couldn’t agree to a contract before Monday night’s deadline, so the Diamondbacks non-tendered Daniel Hudson, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides are close to hammering out a new deal for him to stick around. Hudson is recovering from a pair of Tommy John elbow surgeries and figures to…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:47 AM EST
These huge, later-career deals never turn out great. The best you can hope for when you sign a 30-something baseball player to a hugely expensive long-term deal is that he will have a couple of good years on the front end to boost up his value, have a nice rebound year somewhere in the middle,…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
For any Reds fans holding out hope that Shin-Soo Choo will wind up back in Cincinnati, general manager Walt Jocketty has some discouraging news: We have not had any discussions in a couple of weeks. I had one conversation with [agent Scott] Boras a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t done anything since then because…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:44 AM EST
Paul Konerko pondered retirement following the worst season of his career, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the 37-year-old will return to the White Sox for another go-around. Konerko hit just .244 with 12 homers and a .669 OPS in 126 games this year and the White Sox signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:15 AM EST
Philadelphia has a new backup catcher, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Phillies have signed 36-year-old Wil Nieves after trading Erik Kratz for Brad Lincoln yesterday. Nieves spent this year with the Diamondbacks, backing up Miguel Montero and hitting .297 with one homer and a .690 OPS in 71 games for the second-highest…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with Curtis Granderson on Sunday and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York was told by a source that talks between the two sides “intensified” late Tuesday. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that nothing is imminent, but that there’s increasing optimism that the Mets will land him.…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:35 AM EST
After reportedly agreeing to terms on a seven-year, $153 million contract with Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees are close to securing some Robinson Cano insurance. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the verge of signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract worth between $2.75-$3 million. Of course, the Yankees…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:17 PM EST
A’s GM Billy Beane is not done making moves. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted Tuesday evening that Oakland is “likely to deal” left-hander Brett Anderson at next week’s Winter Meetings and lists the Yankees among the teams showing trade interest. The Blue Jays, Royals, Indians, Twins and Mariners are also thought to be in…
Dec 3, 2013, 10:25 PM EST
A minor trade in among all these high-profile deals, via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki: Phillies have acquired RHP Brad Lincoln from Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and LHP Rob Rasmussen. — Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) December 4, 2013 Lincoln was out of minor league options and the Blue Jays are loaded with relievers. The…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:48 PM EST
This ultra-active day on the hot stove continues. According to beat writer Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies are “closing in on” a two-year contract with free agent first baseman Justin Morneau. No word yet on the financial terms. Morneau struggled mightily throughout the 2013 season, batting .259 with a .741 OPS in…
- MLB, NPB nearing new posting system agreement 7
- Report: Talks between the Mets and Curtis Granderson have “intensified” 31
- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury 159
- Marlins sign free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to three-year, $21 million contract 44
- Carlos Beltran likely to land with the Royals? 18
- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (159)
- When will the Yankees regret the Jacoby Ellsbury contract? (92)
- Robinson Cano met with the Mariners in Seattle (81)
- Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury signing to pay big dividends… for now (79)
- Robinson Cano says he never asked for $300 million (70)