Bloggers on the Mitchell report.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 13 2007 6:43 PM

The Juice Is Loose

Bloggers pounce on the Mitchell report, which documents alleged steroid use by 88 Major League Baseball players; they also ponder the Fed's decision to lend billions of dollars to the banking industry and have mixed reactions to the passing of Ike Turner.

The juice is loose: Former Sen. George Mitchell's much-hyped report (PDF) on the illegal use of performance-enhancing substances details interviews with Kirk Radomski, the New York Mets clubhouse attendant who says he supplied performance-enhancing drugs to many top players. According to ESPN.com, "[Roger] Clemens, Miguel Tejada and [Andy] Pettitte were named in the report, an All-Star roster linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that put a question mark—if not an asterisk—next to some of baseball's biggest moments."

Bloggers wonder what the report will mean for baseball. Hyer Standard pontificates, "I cannot stress to you how much of an impact this will have on America's game. Many sports personalities and media outlets are concluding that this report will in fact change baseball as we know it." The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson predicts that Barry Bonds will remain the only scapegoat for the issue. Arguing that the Mitchell report will soon be forgotten, Hutchinson writes, "Despite the hoopla, teeth gnashing, phony self-righteous indignation, and clamor to do something about the shame and disgrace of drug use in the majors, there's absolutely no guarantee that the MLB officials or owners will follow to the strict letter the reform proposals."

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Baseball Prospectus'Nate Silver muses on the presence of relatively unknown players on the list: "[I]t's the guys who are trying to become millionaires—not those who are millionaires already—who have the most reason to cheat." And The Director's Chair's Scott Rubens is disappointed: "I feel sorry for the former sports legends that had their old records shattered by the likes of Barry Bonds and others. They worked hard and honestly to be the best they could be only to have their records shattered by players under the suspicion of steroid abuse."

Some, like ESPN's Howard Bryant, are wondering whether the report has methodological problems. On Baseball Musings, David Pinto, an ESPN host turned full-time blogger, suggests that Mitchell might have had more success if he'd made it clear from the beginning that the report would recommend against prosecuting players. "Instead we received a report full of hearsay. Clemens and Pettitte come out looking poorly, but players like Brian Roberts are tarred without a lot of evidence." On the Baseball Think Factory's blog, Sean McNally notes that a report meant to circumvent the need for congressional involvement will result in further involvement. A commenter responds, "The congressional involvement moves from keeping an eye on the owners (read:antitrust exemption) to forgetting about the owners and keeping an eye on the players' union. [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig got exactly what he wanted."

On Venomous Words, an aspiring filmmaker writes, "The owners wanted homeruns. The fans GOT homeruns, they got A LOT of homeruns. They got 70 in '98, 74 in 2001 and now they are finding out how. Does it really change the excitement they felt at the time they saw those achievements get done?"

Read more about the Mitchell report. Read a complete list of the players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. The MVN live-blogs the report's release.

Banking on it: In the wake of this year's mortgage crisis, the Federal Reserve, along with central banks in the United States and Europe, is trying to stave off recession by lending billions of dollars to financial institutions. The move, which aims to make credit more accessible, was announced yesterday, shortly after the Fed nominally reduced interest rates. There has been no comparable international attempt since efforts during the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some bloggers give the plan the benefit of the doubt. "The core innovation is that the Fed announces a quantity of funds to be auctioned, and the market sets the price," arguesMarginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen."This means that new funds will get to banks, and to banks with credit problems, it will be interesting to see at what price."

Interfluidity's Steve Randy Waldman effuses, "If you think (as I believe most Fed policymakers do) that the goal of monetary policy in reacting to the current financial crisis is to make it go away, this plan is brilliant." And at the American Prospect, Ezra Klein writes, "It's a welcome move, and evidence of how dangerous the current moment really is."

But many others pooh-pooh this turn of events. On the Mortgage Guy Blog, a financial-services professional insists, "I doubt it's enough to cure the disease. Especially when it's rumored that Citigroup alone is holding 100 billion in SIV's or structured investment vehicles. That's just one player. So you can see 10 billion here and 20 billion there are mere bandaids on an open chest wound."

Thorsten Pollheit, a finance professor blogging for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is similarly dismissive: "The Austrian School of economics not only suggests that the current credit crisis is a direct result of government-controlled paper-money-supply monopolies, which have embarked upon a policy of artificially suppressing the market interest rate; it also suggests that central banks will continue to respond to a monetary-induced crisis by a further increase in the stock of money, thereby increasing malinvestment and inflation."

To understand the root causes of the financial crisis, some are turning to Alan Greenspan's analysis in the Wall Street Journal: "After more than a half-century observing numerous price bubbles evolve and deflate, I have reluctantly concluded that bubbles cannot be safely defused by monetary policy or other policy initiatives before the speculative fever breaks on its own." But Infectious Greed's venture capitalist Paul Kedrowsky lambastes Greenspan: "He found fault pretty much everywhere but in his own actions in explaining the current subprime-related credit problems in the U.S."

Read more about the Fed's plan.

Ike Turner blues: Legendary musician Ike Turner died yesterday at age 76. Although he is best known for performing with his ex-wife, Tina Turner, with whom he had a notoriously turbulent relationship, many bloggers are celebrating his earliest recording as well as his most recent work.

"While there would have been rock without Ike Turner, it's fair to say it would be a diminished beast had he and his band not trudged into a recording studio with a broken amp one day in Memphis more than 55 years ago," writes Gaylord Fields on Spinner.

On Rolling Stone's blog, Rock Daily, Anthony DeCurtis traces Turner's "undervalued" contributions to musical history and claims, "Ike Turner never displayed the requisite regret required for rehabilitation in the public's eyes, and so he never fully reclaimed the spotlight."

On Entertainment Weekly's blog, PopWatch, Gary Susman notes, "It's too bad that, when people remember Ike Turner, who died today at 76, they're more likely to think 'the guy who battered his wife, Tina,' than 'the guy who pretty much invented rock 'n' roll.' " And on Marie Millard's blog, fan Nancy  reaches a similar conclusion: "[W]hen I heard he died, I get bummed that the 'real' man ruined his musical genius persona for me."

Read more about Ike Turner. Watch him perform with Tina Turner. Peruse BET's pictorial timeline of his life.

Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.