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George Mitchell's Great Charade

I don’t much believe in the investigatory power of private corporations. It’s hard to see how Major League Baseball’s team of yes-men could get to the bottom of the steroid scandal that plagued baseball for over a decade.

And apparently, it’s a shocker to some that the committee, led by Red Sox part-owner and former US Senator George Mitchell, has failed to bring anything new to the post-steroid party.

Mitchell was appointed by Bud Selig to investigate the degree to which illegal performance-enhancing drugs had permeated the game before our hero Bud cleaned up the sport. It might have been better titled “The Committee to Clear MLB of any Involvement in Anything.”

It’s a charade. Although some current players were obviously involved in steroid use, like Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, the committee has failed to punish anyone for their actions.

Estimations by former players and steroid users Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti pegged the amount of steroid users as much higher than two out of 750. So why has the steroid front appeared so quiet?

Were Caminiti and Canseco far off? Maybe. But it’s hard to think that former players like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro don’t have anything to add to the discussion. Maybe they don’t, if only because they fear self-incrimination.

So why has Mitchell announced nothing? The open-ended committee without a clear purpose was obviously an ill-fated effort at saving face. Are we ever going to find the dirty list that would clear up all questions from the era?

It comes from a strange notion that exists in baseball more so than in other fields. We don’t have a right to know. There is a large chunk of media resources devoted to celebrity gossip and finding out who’s dating whom. The federal government is always stalked by reporters hunting for corruption. The people have a right to know, because they pay the taxes that funds this corruption.

So, if Major League Baseball continues to receive the special treatment that it does from the government with its unique anti-trust exemption, shouldn’t the government, and by association, shouldn’t we have a right to know what’s going on in Major League Baseball?

Don’t the fans have a right to know what gets swept under the rug behind closed doors regarding our national pastime? Major League Baseball, as evidenced by the commish’s actions, has no interest in devoting major resources to policing itself.

So the league should be faced with two options. It should either lose its anti-trust exemption or willingly allow the government to police the sport. The fans should be offended that baseball has not reprimanded itself for endorsing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Whether or not they intended to do so by honoring Mark McGwire’s and Barry Bonds’ separate chase for the single-season home run record is beside the point. They did, after all, elect to honor Rafael Palmeiro’s accomplishment of 3,000 hits last year even with full knowledge that the slugger had tested positive.

Baseball is sending mixed messages about drugs. On one hand, they have the anti-drug commercial filled with double entendres (yes, I’m talking about those shrinking balls) as well as the commercial with vanishing athletes. On another hand, they have the unreprimanded Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds. Both are worshiped in their home stadiums.

And when a fan threw a syringe at Bonds earlier this year, the fan was arrested and Bonds was provided with additional security. Think about the peculiarity of this from a legal standpoint. A man responsible for possession and use of illegal drugs as well as tax evasion goes free while a man who made a little mischief at a ballgame was arrested.

Bonds was not only unarrested, he goes without suspension to this point. Baseball’s brass needs to make a point by retroactively suspending Bonds and Giambi and furthering investigative efforts against Palmeiro and McGwire.

That burden falls squarely on the shoulders of George Mitchell and his band of merry yes-men. So, the steroid scandal will be swept under the rug in baseball as a period of darkness instead of earning its own wing in Cooperstown.

Rather, the only thing in Cooperstown will be the unprosecuted steroid users who weren’t caught as a result of Mitchell’s failures. Nice work. High fives all around.


In case you couldn't tell...

I'm on vacation until Monday night. That's mostly because we don't have SNY at the hotel.

Also, the posting schedule will be a little rough for this week, so I'll see you next week with something more regular.

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