Jan 30, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
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.
Jul 1, 2015, 8:47 PM EDT
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia was unable to perform scheduled throwing workouts on Saturday and Monday due to cramping in his left groin — the same issue that drove him from his last start Wednesday night against the Marlins.
Jul 1, 2015, 7:21 PM EDT
Stoneman was the Angels’ general manager in 2002, when the the franchise won its last World Series championship.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT
Young was batting just .270/.289/.339 with two home runs in 180 plate appearances this season for the Orioles. The 29-year-old hit .302/.337/.442 with seven home runs in 255 plate appearances last season.
Jul 1, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT
One of the best hitting prospects in baseball.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT
Cueto allowed one run over eight innings while striking out eight.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Silent Cal chooses to run.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
For better or worse, owner Arte Moreno is standing with Scioscia.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
“The most ridiculous no-hitter in baseball history”
Jul 1, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Santana has been “rehabbing” in the minors.
Jul 1, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Bruce Sutter retired when Ronald Reagan was still president. He’s still being paid by the Braves.
Jul 1, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Jul 1, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
A book is coming out which is telling us just how bad a teammate Yasiel Puig has been. Should we care?
Jul 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
He was runner-up in 2009.
Jul 1, 2015, 9:12 AM EDT
Which, in reality, is a really dumb thing to mock the Mets for.
Jul 1, 2015, 8:07 AM EDT
It seems that if you battle with Mike Scioscia, you’re going to lose.
Jul 1, 2015, 7:31 AM EDT
Shutouts are rare in baseball these days. M’s rookie Mike Montgomery has two in a row.
Jun 30, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
Banuelos has rebuilt some of his early-career hype this summer with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, Georgia, posting 2.29 ERA and 1.22 WHIP across 82 2/3 innings (15 starts).
Jun 30, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT
Watch as Dee Gordon belts a ball into the right-center field gap and turns on the jets …
Jun 30, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT
Gyorko was optioned to the minors on June 10 after batting .210/.282/.311 over his first 131 plate appearances …
Jun 30, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT
Tim Lincecum will be placed on the disabled list with a forearm bruise to open a rotation spot.
- Bill Stoneman taking over as Angels’ interim GM 5
- Jerry Dipoto loses power struggle with Mike Scioscia, steps down as Angels general manager 29
- Bobby Bonilla’s isn’t the only deferred money deal in the game. And isn’t even the worst. 47
- What Yasiel Puig being a pain in the butt means. And what it doesn’t mean. 68
- Report: Jerry Dipoto “definitely out” as Angels GM 75
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 46
- Rangers activate Josh Hamilton from disabled list, send prospect Joey Gallo to Triple-A 12
- Huston Street says he’d retire if he was used like a 1970s-style fireman 51
- With the same-sex marriage decision, the San Francisco Giants get another big win (276)
- Joe Maddon is the latest manager to rip instant replay. He’s got a point. (110)
- Settling the Scores: Sunday’s results (99)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (75)
- There was a super ump show in Chicago yesterday (75)