Bryant: Mitchell’s Dubious Inquiry

Howard Bryant, author of Juicing the Game, offers an in-depth preview of the Mitchell report, and the many ways in which it is compromised.

Scores of baseball employees who were interviewed by former Sen. George Mitchell’s investigators said that the inquiry has been critically hampered by investigative missteps, Mitchell’s close personal ties in the industry, and the longstanding fracture between baseball’s owners and players’ union. These baseball insiders offer an unprecedented and unfiltered view of the 20-month investigation.

Club executives are nervous that Mitchell will be unsparing in his assessment of their role in enabling the game’s steroid culture, while team trainers and strength coaches feel the Mitchell team explicitly pressured them to “guess” about steroid use by specific players. The aim, say trainers and strength coaches, was to produce a report heavy on high-profile names but low on solutions….

Cracks in the Mitchell investigation’s foundation — Mitchell’s inability to compel players to cooperate, for example — were unavoidable, insiders say. Others were not, including the investigators’ lack of familiarity with baseball’s locker room and insider culture, and Mitchell’s own apparent conflicts of interest.

White wash? Witch hunt? The article suggests we’re in store for a little of both.

66 comments… add one
  • Witch wash?

    FenSheaParkway December 11, 2007, 4:40 pm
  • Nick –
    If he\\\’s certain he\\\’s leaving, why would he want to hold onto the pieces of a future team? Wouldn\\\’t he rather go out on top with the best possible team?
    Sorry, but Cashman sees this as his chance to remake the organization and he\\\’s sticking with that plan.
    If anything Hank\\\’s generosity is more in play with Jorge and Mo than an overruling of Cashman. There it was simply money. I can\\\’t see Cashman being too upset about it. Losing Hughes, however…

    Mike YF December 11, 2007, 4:43 pm

  • Wrong thread, Mike? Either that or I’m completely blind, and am missing something!

    Atheose December 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
  • Might as well start discrediting him now before the names hit the paper. Preventative maintenance by owners and others.

    Brad December 11, 2007, 5:21 pm
  • What a terrible article.
    Two points:
    1) On the vailidity of the report: It hasn’t come out yet! Somehow we are to believe people who are upset because the investigators didn’t understand baseball culture well enough to ask the right questions…and therefore the report will clearly be devoid of substance? Or wait, they’re upset because it is going to have too much dirt and blame on trainers…or on team executives…or on ceratin players. Which is it? The answer seems to be both – in other words, this report that hasn’t come out yet will stink for 50 reasons, some of which contradict one another. If any of those reasons resonate with you as a reader, than latch onto that one. What a joke of a critique.
    Whenever an initiative gets attacked for being both too much and too little at the same time, it is clear that the problem is not with the initiative – it is with those attacking it.
    I don’t know what Mitchell’s report will say, but I know that bashing it at this stage smells like a panic move and undermines the credibility of those attacks.
    2) On conflict of interest: I think Mitchell is wrong not to have distanced himself more from his Boston RS affiliation because he knows as well as anyone that perception is as important as reality in any contentious process. Therefore he should have taken steps to avoid any apparent conflict of interest that a reasonable person would assert – and asserting conflict of interest based on being part of (and vowing to come back to after the investigaion) the ownership team of one of the entities you are investigating is certainly reasonable.
    Having said that, I have about as much respect for Mitchell as I do for any other American public figure (and infinitely more for him than ANY baseball owner, the commissioner, or players union leadership), so no, I don’t believe that he will white-wash any Boston-related matters or treat them differently. But yeah, people will be forgiven for raising it as a problem because it looks bad and he should have known that.

    IronHorse (yf) December 11, 2007, 5:39 pm
  • From the article:
    Accompanying that intrigue — and perhaps because of that intrigue — is a sense that not only will Mitchell’s document fail to please everyone, it might fail to please anyone.
    Considering the widespread belief that basically everyone is complicit, isn’t this a good thing?
    I agree with IH, particularly about the faux “problem” of the investigators not being familiar enough with the clubhouse mentality. Isn’t this a good thing from an outside investigator?
    Reading through it, it does seem like the article is nothing more than everyone who is afraid of looking bad in the report trying to discredit it before its release. All the sources or quotes are from people who “are afraid” such and such will happen, or “don’t think” Mitchell will do this or that.
    So, it’s 2,000 words of speculation, the only difference is that we learn from it that the people involved in the investigation don’t know any more about what the report will contain than any of the rest of us. Oh, and they’re nervous.
    Also — not discounting the legitimate conflict-of-interest concerns — the recounting fo the sale of the Red Sox to the henry ownership group is just a terrible job, clearly done without any research of the sources that have come out since that shed considerable light on how the sale went through, just rehashing the same old innuendos and accusations that have long since been disproved.

    Paul SF December 11, 2007, 6:04 pm
  • I didn’t bother with the Bryant article, but reading today’s Times (in which it is suspected that 50 names will be disclosed) I felt a sense of foreboding. I think all Sox fans need to steel themselves for the 2004 squad (and the 2007 squad) coming under intense scrutiny and catcalling from fans of other teams. Like Sox fans who cried about Jason Giambi as a cheater sheltered by the Yankees (a foolish comment, at the very best) these fans will be those who allow their allegiances to get in the way of assimilating the facts: that the entire game has been tarnished by this whole fiasco. Every team will have (likely) won or lost a game, a series, due to the exploits of a player or players who used PEDs. That’s not to make a false equivalency between all teams and all players, but the exact magnitude of influence by said players will be very difficult to parse.
    Red Sox players will be named. I have no doubt about this. It will be painful and jading. But it doesn’t change what has happened. Steel yourselves, everyone, especially Red Sox fans, for the coming storm.

    SF December 12, 2007, 10:03 am
  • Yeah, I’m predicting a 500-post thread when this report breaks to us.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 10:27 am
  • it’ll be more than that, Brad.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 10:28 am
  • yeah, I agree. I think there are going to be some huge surprises, and if not, I think most will blame Mitchell’s alliance with Boston as the reason. I’m just hoping that it’s not key players on either squad that won.
    Schilling was on EEI this morning, and said that all the players on the list have been contacted by MLB to inform them that they’re being mentioned or whatever. He said that while he was not contacted in any way, he can’t speak for any of his teammates.
    That statement makes me grimace a little bit. Schilling knows exactly what he’s talking about, and if there were no names, he would have said so.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 10:51 am
  • not sure if all teams will be represented or not, but i’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least 1 user on each team [perhaps not currently], whether they get named or not…i understand your sentiments sf, and i agree that you sox fans don’t owe any apologies [my word] if a sox player is named…but, i also agree that you need to brace yourself…the self-righteous indignation from “many” sox fans on this site about [especially] giambi and sheffield, and the yankees in general for employing these guys, has opened all of you up for the retaliation you’re bracing for…i will try to refrain from any really dickish comments, but a lot depends on the reaction from you sox fans to the announcement…truthfully, the absence of a sox name may generate more negative comments from some folks than seeing a name or 2…i don’t buy the argument that it’s less of an issue if the player wasn’t “key” to one of the championships, brad…nice try, but it’s still a team game…neither giambi or sheffield were “key” to a championship, but that didn’t matter to their detractors…

    dc December 12, 2007, 11:49 am
  • “…neither giambi or sheffield were “key” to a championship…”
    to clarify, i should have said, a “yankee” championship…sheffield was on the ’97 marlins…not sure about giambi [don’t care]

    dc December 12, 2007, 11:57 am
  • So shall we take bets on what players get named? My first guess is Kevin Millar. I’ve always loved Cowboy, and always will, but for some reason I have a sinking feeling he’ll be named.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 11:57 am
  • neither giambi or sheffield were “key” to a championship
    Giambi had 2 homers in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, which directly led to them winning the American League Championship. Nice try DC ;-)
    I apologize for bringing up an old argument in this. I hope this doesn’t turn into a flame war.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 11:59 am
  • Is there, like, a day, hour, and minute this report is supposed to be revealed? I guess I should just go look that up for myself, if possible, but if anyone sees this in the next few minutes…

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:03 pm
  • 2 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) is apparently when the conference call starts, with a 4:30 follow-up by Selig…so I’m guessing by 3:30 or 4, the most relevant information (to the fans) will be known.

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:07 pm
  • There’s no specific time, they just say it will come out “before the holidays.” So probably this week or next.
    I’ve got Millar at 3-1 odds, Keith Folke at 10-1, and Pokey Reese at 300-1. Any takers?

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:09 pm
  • Oh sweet, thanks Devine. You’ve got better sources than I do! (I did a quick google search)

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:10 pm
  • I think tomorrow there are going to be two press conferences held–one by Mitchell and one by Selig–in which the content of the report is revealed.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:11 pm
  • I bet you that during Mitchell’s long preamble, a beat reporter is going to interrupt with “An enough already! We just want the names!”

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:12 pm
  • HAHA, I hope so Nick. That’s the only part anyone cares about.
    I swear to god if Papi is named I’m going to slit my f*cking wrists.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:13 pm
  • ugh, come on atheose, i clearly meant a “world series” championship…didn’t think i needed to clarify that along with the non-yankee clarification…remember, to us yankee fans, the only championship that counts is the world series ;)

    dc December 12, 2007, 12:15 pm
  • You know what I mean, DC. I’m no less happy about a Sox being named regardless if it’s Alan Embree or Manny Ramirez, but if it winds up being a mop-up bullpen guy from 2002, I’m a little less surprised or concerned.
    But, if it was a “key” contributer, and by that I mean someone who played everyday on either of those squads, or a pitcher that contributed to the teams success.
    I’ll refrain from point out the difference between Johnny Right Hander and Gary Sheffield.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 12:16 pm
  • EEI says that the full report will be available in print on MLB.com
    And why am I being asked to prove my identity with every single post?

    Brad December 12, 2007, 12:17 pm
  • Hehe, alright DC. But winning the ALCS kept the Sox our of the World Series, so it’s important to us!
    And I agree completely with Brad–it does make a difference whether the player named was a key player or not. As a Yankee fan, if Ortiz is named will that make you feel like you were cheated out of the 2004 ALCS? I know I would if I was a YF.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:19 pm
  • Brad, you’re clearly a bot trying to spam us with “1ncrease your p3n1s size with V14gra!”

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:20 pm
  • Gabe Kapler. Have you ever seen that guy? Dude is BUILT. I’ve always quietly suspected him, which I’ve felt bad about, but there you go.
    Of course, my big fear is that it’s someone truly special to me — an Ortiz or a Pedro. I think I could live with any other member of the ’04 squad being called out, but not those two. Thankfully, Pedro seems the antithesis of the steroid-using athlete, and he certainly never rebounded very well from his injuries, so he seems safe. Ortiz has the body type, but his public comments have been very upfront about the issue and talked about his part as a role model in encouraging kids not to take PEDs, etc. So I think those two are/have been clean. God, I hope so.

    Paul SF December 12, 2007, 12:21 pm
  • ha.
    Yeah, I was asked again. Maybe I post too often or something, but it’s freaking annoying.
    I’ll lay off for awhile, I guess. It would please my boss anyhow.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • Papi or Manny would be devastating. I’m trying to think what else would really hurt. I think Yankees fans would be very upset if Schilling was named, but I wouldn’t feel it too much personally. I think many Sox fans would be sad if Trot were on the list. I think the only ’04 members I’d be very sad about would be Papi, Manny, Tek, Pedro, and Mueller. I hold those guys in some esteem, personally.

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:23 pm
  • “Gabe Kapler. Have you ever seen that guy? Dude is BUILT. I’ve always quietly suspected him, which I’ve felt bad about, but there you go.”
    A few years back, Kapler and Chad Curtis were vocal about the steroid problem before Balco. They challenged other players to take tests to prove their being clean. So, I tend to think he was clean unless he was a ballsy liar a la Rafael Palmeiro.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:26 pm
  • I’m fond of Ortiz’s “They’re going to find a lot of rice and beans” comment RE: steroids testing.
    ’07 “it would hurt if they cheated” squad: Beckett (another one Yankees fans would be pissed about), Papelbon, Lowell, Youk, Pedroia, Drew (in addition to Papi and Manny).

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:29 pm
  • Ortiz has the body type, but his public comments have been very upfront about the issue and talked about his part as a role model in encouraging kids not to take PEDs, etc. So I think those two are/have been clean. God, I hope so.
    Remember Rafael Palmero? Dude was my Hero when I lived in Dallas and he played for the Rangers. Since that I don’t believe anything from athletes. Though if I believed anyone, Ortiz is someone I would trust.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:29 pm
  • “but his public comments have been very upfront about the issue”
    That means very little – so were Palmeiro’s.
    (and no, I don’t think Ortiz will be named, but it would be a nice early Xmas gift if he were…

    The Sheriff (Andrews) December 12, 2007, 12:32 pm
  • Oh, I’ve also got 2-1 odds on Nomar. Dude has way too many steroidish injuries for my liking.
    And on that note, 5-1 odds on Drew. Youk and Pedroia are safe I’m sure.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:33 pm
  • I don’t know, wasn’t Youk called a “Greek God” at one point??? :)

    The Sheriff (Andrews) December 12, 2007, 12:34 pm
  • personally, I hope no Yanks or Sox are named for the sanity of this site. It would bring me no happiness if even Josh Beckett were named. I don’t want to witness the pissing matches that would follow such an outing.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:35 pm
  • “…As a Yankee fan, if Ortiz is named will that make you feel like you were cheated out of the 2004 ALCS?…”
    not really atheose…at least one of our “cheaters”, if not both, played in that series, and you guys won it fair and square, even if painfully…it was a team win, with more than just ortiz contributing…i don’t think we lost it because of him…
    “…Hehe, alright DC. But winning the ALCS kept the Sox our of the World Series, so it’s important to us!…”
    well, i’d say it’s even up if you guys have a guy or 2 listed…
    “…I’ll refrain from point out the difference between Johnny Right Hander and Gary Sheffield….”
    sorry brad, but i still disagree…it may be more sensational to have a “star” named, but no less damning…it’s still a team game, regardless of one’s role…but, i don’t begrudge you for trying to spin it that way, just like my argument that giambi really hasn’t done much for the yanks…it’s called coping with the bad news…

    dc December 12, 2007, 12:37 pm
  • Agreed, Nick. The rivalry is great right now (and somewhat civil, with the exception of discussion about Hank and other minor things) and something like this would tear us to pieces.
    And good point Sheriff… remember when Tito said “I’ve seen Youk in the shower… he’s not the Greek God of anything”? I know steroids shrink the testes, but what about the real junk? I remember Jose Canseco’s wife said juicing increased the size of her husband, but I also heard that that’s a lie.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:40 pm
  • ” It would bring me no happiness if even Josh Beckett were named.”
    The only happiness I would get from that would be watching SF’s drink what could be called a “12 pack of STFU”, after years of being chided about Giambi and Sheffield.

    The Sheriff (Andrews) December 12, 2007, 12:40 pm
  • The Mitchell Report is not going to be some type of closure event for the steroid era. The names that come out are just a part of a larger unknown list. In other words, no one is being found innocent here.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:40 pm
  • And will all of the names on the list be definitely proven?
    No doubt some of the people will beat their chests and protest their innocence. How damning is being in that report? Does each name have definite evidence associated with it? Is there no hearsay whatsoever?

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:43 pm
  • It’s still a team game DC, definitely. But surely you can agree that certain players have more value in games than others.
    For instance, without ARod last year the Yankees wouldn’t have made the playoffs–he carried the team all year long. And what about Josh Beckett? He had one of the most dominant postseason performances in history, and without him we certainly wouldn’t have won the World Series. If it comes out that Beckett was juicing, doesn’t that nullify the entire 2007 season?
    It pains me to think about it, but I believe wholeheartedly that it does.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:44 pm
  • Devine, I’d guess that in the public’s perception being named will be guilt enough.

    Nick-YF December 12, 2007, 12:45 pm
  • “Does each name have definite evidence associated with it? Is there no hearsay whatsoever?”
    Good question. From what I’ve read, most of the names are connected via invoices, etc, for product sent.

    The Sheriff (Andrews) December 12, 2007, 12:48 pm
  • Nick…I think you’re right, except that some people will hold on to every chance they can to rationalize where their “heroes” are concerned. I wish I knew just how definitively guilty the guys are that are being exposed tomorrow.

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:50 pm
  • Well that’s good, Sheriff. If 50 players are going to be named they sure as hell have hard evidence, as opposed to hearsay BS.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 12:51 pm
  • Ugh. Let’s hope for all our sakes that the “juicy” names are on other teams. I don’t doubt members of the Red Sox and Yankees will be named, but Curtis Leskanic and Paul Quantrill would be a lot easier on this site and all our interpersonal relations…

    Paul SF December 12, 2007, 12:52 pm
  • “in the public’s perception being named will be guilt enough”
    Witch hunt, anyone?
    I hope I’m wrong, but I think the only thing remembered about this report, other than the names, will be what a tremendous waste of time and resources it was.

    The Sheriff (Andrews) December 12, 2007, 12:52 pm
  • Independent of a favorite player being named (Vladimir Guerrerro is one I can think of that would hurt baseball as a whole, and I know many people here, including myself, enjoy watching him play), I’m actually ghoulishly interested in watching this play out, like seeing a car crash. The aftershocks will be interesting, and no doubt some hilarious things will be said by devastated fans.
    I’m a cruel bastard sometimes.

    Devine December 12, 2007, 12:56 pm
  • The fact is that we could put together a list of at least 25-30 of the names we already know plus some of the players named will be retired so perhaps the shock value of it is gonna be less than expected.

    sam-YF December 12, 2007, 12:59 pm
  • I love Vlad too, Devine. The man has a strikezone the size of a Volkswagon and can hit a homerun off any pitch, anywhere.
    And I hope you’re right about the shock value, Sam. Nevertheless I’m preparing myself for the worst.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 1:01 pm
  • I do think Foulke and Nixon could be realistic possibilities for “big name, championship-contributing” status. Nomar, also. Bob Ryan will look prescient, indeed, if he’s named.

    Paul SF December 12, 2007, 1:02 pm
  • I would honestly bet money that Nomar is named. And Foulke played for Oakland in 2003, so I wouldn’t doubt it. Anyone on the A’s between 1995 and 2004 is a suspect in my book.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 1:07 pm
  • Nomar and Trot are definitely on top of my list as far as the Red Sox are concerned.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 1:26 pm
  • I think that while the names will clearly be huge and eagerly-anticipated news, the other element that will probably get a great deal of play will be excerpts from the report that directly and (according to what some of the MLB-reps who got a preview of it and were cited by the NYT today have said) harshly aportion responsibility to the whole system: owners, trainers, managers, players, the players union, etc.
    And coming as it is from a respected source, this will in my view be not at all a waste of time. It will be the first time that we will have one unified narrative from a respected source saying things that need to be said about how everyone involved in the upper levels of this game contributed to the fiasco in ways large and small. Until now we’ve had an obstinate players union, a holier-than-thou see-no-evil-hear-no-evil ownership and management, and a rather feckless MLB, ALL of whom made out great financially from allowing and facilitating this farce – with each telling their own narrative and pointing fingers.
    In addition to the value of a single narrative, it will open up larger debates around all sports vis-a-vis the role of the trainer which, as one was reported as saying yesterday, have a very different role than doctors, who try to get patients well. The trainer’s job, though a member of the medical profession, is to get guys well enough to play – period – and that is not only different, but sometimes directly opposed to the role of the doctor.
    The sport that has the biggest problem on this score is clearly football given the damage that it does to bodies, the negative consequences for long-term health, etc, but it is a completely predictable outcome of most professional sports leagues we all follow – they are systems in which all incentives of money, glory, and professional advancement point in a direction that does not promote the health – especially the long-term health – of the athlete and often point in the exact opposite direction.
    I don’t understand given what I expect to be just these two likely outcomes (sigle narrative and opening the debate on the role of the trainer), not to mention many other likely outcomes and debates this report will spark that might be useful to get in the open, how you could deem this a waste of money or resources. Especially in an industry where much more money and resources are spent on things like a new stadium in a city where the old stadium is perfectly suitable for continued use.

    IronHorse (yf) December 12, 2007, 1:44 pm
  • how you could deem this a waste of money or resources.
    I think the report is worth doing because it may HELP give closure to the Steroids Era that has plagued MLB for the last decade. We will never be able to know every single player that did steroids, but this will at least uncover a large portion of the truth and, at the least, give the appearance of closure.
    And appearance of closure can sometimes be better than closure itself.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 1:54 pm
  • We have avoided all speculation about PED users here, and I think for good reason. The innuendo inherent in guessing who might have used was unseemly. That being said, and on the eve of the Mitchell report, I think I grant a little more leeway in this kind of discussion.
    Personally I have put a few names in an envelope and will open this up tomorrow to see how accurate my own speculation was. Until then, though, no names from me.

    SF December 12, 2007, 2:32 pm
  • Afraid you’ll be way off, SF? ;-)
    My money is on Millar, Nomar or Foulke.
    Though Pokey Reese is a distant 4th pick.

    Atheose December 12, 2007, 2:44 pm
  • Sorry if this question has been answered already, but does the Mitchell Report gather a body of evidence against each and every player that they name? Or are they just accusing them based on hearsay and circumstance?
    I could just see Clemens and Pettitte ‘named’ because their trainer has been linked at one time to a person who might have dealt in steroids.

    AndrewYF December 12, 2007, 2:58 pm
  • I am not afraid of being way off. I KNOW I will be way off.
    I just don’t want to speculate, at least not in public. I have avoided it for a few years. I can make it another day.

    SF December 12, 2007, 3:00 pm
  • Andrew, according to the NYT today, apparently it’s expected the players will be tied to PEDs through documentary means — canceled checks, receipts, phone records, etc.
    It’s a grim form of prediction, but I feel the most certain about Clemens and Nomar. We’ll see if I’m way off tomorrow, I guess.

    Paul SF December 12, 2007, 3:22 pm
  • Dave Roberts. Obviously.

    yankeemonkey December 12, 2007, 3:43 pm
  • Clemens’ name would be a sportswriters dream.

    Brad December 12, 2007, 3:58 pm
  • Andrew,
    As Paul says, what was reported in the NYT makes it sounds like there will be proof of association and involvement, but very likely no proof of USE. I’m not really sure how you would proove use so in lieu of that, this seems pretty damning, if not courtroom-standard.

    IronHorse (yf) December 12, 2007, 4:12 pm
  • Clemens’ name would be a sportswriters dream.
    And Dan Duquette’s…

    Paul SF December 12, 2007, 4:40 pm
  • OK, so I have written ten names (gotta stop somewhere) and sealed them in an envelope. I have taken pictures of this sheet for posterity in front of the Atomic Clock website so that there is proof of the timing of this exercise.
    Tomorrow we will see just how off-base I am!

    SF December 12, 2007, 6:35 pm

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