Dope Springs Eternal
Slate writers and editors dissect the Mitchell report.
As soon as former Sen. George Mitchell released his reporton steroids and baseball—you can read the whole thing in PDF form or read all of the best material in Bonnie Goldstein's Hot Document—a group of Slate staffers started kicking around the implications. What would happen to the players whose names were named, like Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and Paul Lo Duca? How should Commissioner Bud Selig respond? Who will the main characters be in The Mitchell Report: The Movie? Read our whole discussion below.
Josh Levin: OK, George Mitchell just wrapped up his speech. He wants to point out that these allegations of drug use are between two and nine years old. This was a time when baseball made many changes, from limited probable cause testing to mandatory random testing. He wants the media and fans to pay the most attention to the report's conclusions and recommendations. So, let's ignore the conclusions and recommendations. What's your favorite name in the Mitchell report? Here's the ESPN.com list of players.
John Swansburg: My favorite name in the report might be Eric Gagne's. I've long thought that Gagne's record of 84 consecutive save chances converted has been overlooked as an absolutely absurd achievement. The Dodgers used to display the words Game Over on the Jumbotron when Gagne would trot out for the ninth, and it wasn't empty boasting. That record, too, has an asterisk now.
Robert Weintraub: My favorite name on the list is Chuck Knoblauch. Does this mean his inability to throw from second to first is because of juicin'? Funny how there aren't any BoSox on the list, save Gagne, whom they want to erase all traces of anyway.
Levin: Mitchell is "a director of the Boston Red Sox," whatever that means, thus the conspiracy theorizing about why there aren't any Red Sox on the list.
Chris Wilson: Josias Manzanillo threw one game for the Red Sox in '91, in which he walked three and let two runs score in one IP.
Weintraub: After which, he was taken to the team's "Dianabol Room" and told to go nuts. Guess 'roids don't help your control.
Levin: Harold Reynolds is arguing on MLB.com that this report exonerates everyone who isn't named—that this is going to be the document that people look back on. So, are guys like Albert Pujols who've been accused in the past now off the hook?
Stephen Metcalf: Exonerates no one; it's a random dipstick. Also, some perspective: We now essentially know that McGwire, Bonds, and Clemens cheated. Granted, it would be nice to see Pujols and A-Rod. But Bonds is the career and single-season home-run leader, and Clemens the best pitcher of his generation, if not beyond. These are big, big gets. Check out the Yahoo! splash page and the Times. Huge story.
Jody Rosen: Radomski = Greatest snitch ever. The Willie Mays of snitches. This is fascinating reading. Loving the details on Roger Clemens' needle-phobia. Couldn't bear to shoot himself up—he had his "trainer" Brian McNamee do the injections. Still, Clemens didn't like HGH: He "told [McNamee] that he did not like the 'bellybutton shot.' "
Levin: Still reading through the report's long (long, long) history section. It's helpful, at least, to have the entirety of baseball's Steroids Era—from Canseco to Lenny "Real Good Vitamins" Dykstra to McGwire to Juan Gonzalez and on and on—documented in a single place. All of these narratives seem to involve a put-upon mule who's left holding the duffel bag. Both Canseco and Gonzalez passed off stashes of steroids as belonging to their lackeys. And it's hard to escape the conclusion that baseball players have tons of money and a lot less shame. Best passage in the report so far: "Radomski said that he sent human growth hormone to [pitcher Kevin] Brown by overnight mail. ... Soon thereafter, Radomski returned home one day to find an express delivery package from Brown on his doorstep, wet from the rain. When he opened it, he found that it contained $8,000 cash."
John Swansburg: How are the Astros feeling about their Tejada deal?
Will Saletan: Texas teams specialize in redeeming miscreants, or at least picking them up cheap. Though usually Jerry Jones is the one showing up with the bail bondsman.
Swansburg: The Rangers, however, seem to have passed: "In December 2005, Texas Rangers owner Thomas O. Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels engaged in an email exchange about possible trade discussions. In one email, Daniels stated that he had 'some steroids concerns with Tejada,' and cited Tejada's decreased productivity over the second half of the 2005 season."
Levin: I just finished printing out the whole 409 pages of the report. (I have lost the Green Challenge.) I've only read the first couple of pages—the summary and recommendations—but I'm already thinking about the movie version. From Page 1: "We identify some of the players who were caught up in the drive to gain a competitive advantage through the illegal use of these substances." A young Paul Lo Duca, armed with nothing but a will to win and some Dodger Stadium stationary ...
Chris Wilson: "Meanwhile, a kid named Kirk Radomski, who grew up in the shadow of Shea Stadium, starts hanging around the clubhouse and helping the Mets out as a batboy ..."
Levin: I guarantee that Batboy: The Rise and Fall of Kirk Radomski (or maybe The Unnatural) will be a major motion picture in the next two years. It's like Blow meets Almost Famous meets Major League.