Former Senator George Mitchell’s Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball came out today.
So, turns out everyone in baseball for the past couple decades did steroids.
This is good, believe it or not, as it reminds us that finger-pointing at individual users is a useless and ultimately self-righteous response to baseball’s ‘roid culture. (Another thing the Mitchell Report reminds us of: Lenny Dykstra! What a dick! Awesome!) So, yes, let the Chuck Knoblauch jokes commence, but, yes, seriously, everyone did them, because everyone else was and everyone could get away with it. For a really long time. Even after Nomar’s SI cover.
There was an earlier, fictitious report spreading around virally earlier today. In retrospect, it was obviously cobbled together from a list of all publicly known steroid suspensions and all the most frequently rumored users. It was, clearly (I say this now, at least), more obvious and comprehensive than the Mitchell Report ended up being (F.P. Santangelo? Noooooo!). But in a way, it would have been better if the made-up list, with everyone on it, had been true: the specificity of the Mitchell Report, despite its avowed non-comprehensiveness, makes the scope of ‘roid use in baseball seem less comprehensive than it is/was.
And nor, I would argue, does the revelation that a transcendental, once-a-generation talent like Roger Clemens (who I don’t really like, by the way) used steroids count as a diminishment of his on-field accomplishments — as noted font of wisdom David Ortiz said earlier this year about Barry Bonds:
“To hit the ball, the guy makes it look easy, but it ain’t. I don’t know how you can have that swing, consistently. I don’t know how steroids can do that. There are supposed to be guys using steroids in the game, and there’s nobody close to Barry Bonds. What’s that mean? He was using the best [stuff]? Know what I’m saying?”
So, yeah. Major League Baseball looked the other way for a long time, and now they’re taking a P.R. hit, in the form of dents in the reputations of a few individuals. Which seems the wrong way to go about it. This is, for better or worse, the Steroids Era. Adjust your understanding of baseball as it was played during the past couple decades accordingly.
Oh. Also make fun of Paul Lo Duca some more.