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.
Feb 1, 2015, 7:15 PM EST
Jeff Samardzija wants to see “how it is” with the White Sox for half a season, but might consider a contract extension before the 2015 season is over.
Feb 1, 2015, 6:05 PM EST
Check out what David Ortiz and Robinson Cano think will happen in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday night.
Feb 1, 2015, 5:20 PM EST
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Reds have agreed to a contract with 32-year-old left-hander Paul Maholm.
Feb 1, 2015, 4:11 PM EST
Badler writes that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant GM John Coppolella were both in attendance, along with a number of special assistants and the organization’s top two scouts.
Feb 1, 2015, 2:37 PM EST
Zack Greinke is allowed to opt out of his six-year, $146 million contract with the Dodgers after the 2015 season. In doing that, the right-hander would be leaving three years and $77 million on the table but …
Feb 1, 2015, 1:13 PM EST
Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Harrison has put off moving his throwing program from 90 feet to out 105 feet because he is experiencing tightness in his right hip.
Feb 1, 2015, 11:58 AM EST
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his weekly Sunday notes column that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — who’s getting set to take on the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX tonight on NBC — is planning to spend some time in camp this spring with the Texas Rangers.
Feb 1, 2015, 10:32 AM EST
The 37-year-old will likely have to settle for a minor league contract. He’d then have to earn a roster spot.
Feb 1, 2015, 9:05 AM EST
Here is some great video from Ernie Banks’ memorial service Saturday in Chicago …
Jan 31, 2015, 11:25 PM EST
Meghan King Edmonds and Katie Chadwick Hamilton, the wives of Jim and Josh respectively, will appear on the tenth season of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:40 PM EST
Brandon Workman will enter spring training as a reliever, attempting to grab a scarce spot at the back of the Red Sox bullpen.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:50 PM EST
The Padres are still interested in Phillies ace Cole Hamels, though they may not be able to put together an enticing enough deal to attain him.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EST
The Braves may have pawned off many of their productive players, but Freddie Freeman still thinks they’ll compete in 2015.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:10 PM EST
Jayson Werth signed an inmate handbook for someone during his stay in jail in Fairfax, Virginia.
Jan 31, 2015, 7:10 PM EST
Ernie Banks, who played 19 seasons in the major leagues, made an enormous impact on the game of baseball. That has been evident in the wonderful stories that have been shared over the last week.
Jan 31, 2015, 6:05 PM EST
The Rays added some depth, signing reliever Ronald Belisario on Saturday. It appears they’ll be adding infielder Alexi Casilla as well.
Jan 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EST
Baxter appeared in four games with the Dodgers last season and owns a .225/.331/.342 batting line in the majors. He’ll always be aces with Mets fans, though.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:39 PM EST
Richards emerged as one of the best pitchers in the American League last season before tearing his left patellar tendon in August.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:11 PM EST
Hendrickson turned 40 last June and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011, but he still hopes to continue his playing career.
Jan 31, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been very active on the trade front this offseason, but he might not be done yet.
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- Zack Greinke hasn’t made decision about opt-out 8
- Someone apparently got Jayson Werth’s autograph in jail 20
- Chris Davis opens up about his Adderall suspension: “It was a moment of weakness” 55
- MLB.com names Byron Buxton as baseball’s top prospect for second straight year 42
- Yasiel Puig says the Cardinals are the Dodgers’ “principal rivals,” not the Giants 106
- Jayson Werth to serve five days in jail for reckless driving 48
- Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list is out 39
- Great Moments in Media Arrogance: Marshawn Lynch edition (173)
- Yasiel Puig says the Cardinals are the Dodgers’ “principal rivals,” not the Giants (106)
- Why “Deflategate” would never happen in baseball (96)
- The Yankees are going to try to get out of paying A-Rod his contract incentives (85)
- Rosenthal proposal: make relievers face more than one batter per appearance (74)