Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Good Day for Baseball, A Bad Day for Mitchell

Alex Rodriguez. Albert Pujols. Vlad Guerrero. Ryan Howard. Matt Holliday. Jimmy Rollins. Derek Jeter. David Wright. Manny Ramirez.

These are just a very few of the hundreds of names that weren't named in today's Mitchell Report and they are the reason that baseball will be just fine. Sure, there will be buzz for a while, but I really think the game will be even more popular for this. The public will put a lot of the speculation behind them and begin to celebrate the stars above who are basically deemed clean at this point. By March, it will be all about "Can Cabrera put the Tigers over the top?" and "Can anyone beat Boston?"

But the future isn't as bright for George Mitchell. The former senator was once a leading candidate for MLB Commissioner before Selig got the job. He'll be famous in baseball history for this report. But what will history think of the report itself? Let's be honest, once you get past the shock value of some of the names, it's pretty underwhelming. He delivered maybe one truly surprising name, Andy Pettitte, with just about everyone else having been a suspect at one point or another. More importantly, one has to question why he named many, if not all, of the names. Put aside the fact that Mitchell is a co-owner of the Red Sox and an over-proportional number of Yankees, current and former, were named. Review of the information laid out in the report shows an awful lot of one-witness uncorroborated accounts and hearsay. Mitchell potentially ruined people's lives with evidence that in many cases would not hold up in court.

What kind of investigation was this? With the promise of big names, Mitchell prepared his circus that would take the heat off of MLB for its long delay in dealing with its drug problem. Nobody will really defend the named players, who will be branded for at least the rest of their lives as dirty cheaters. Forget the notations on Bonds' and Clemens' inevitable Cooperstown plaques, there will be seventy-six obituaries that mention today's report. Make it seventy-seven -- when we read George Mitchell's we'll lump his most famous work in baseball with all the rest of the output of this tainted era.

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