Mitchell’s Report (And I Don’t Mean Kevin)

The impending bombshell hangs over baseball in a way far different from a major free agent signing, a blockbuster trade, or anything else that might come out of a typical winter meetings conclave. So what will be the ramifications of this week’s release of the Mitchell Report? Putting aside the legalities and technicalities, I see the report having an effect on baseball in three distinct ways.
*Active stars. Current players named in the report will only be able to hide from the media until February; they will then be bombarded with questions from reporters once they report to spring training. The first few days of spring camps won’t be marked by the traditional feel-good, puff pieces; they’ll be marred by waves of articles offering mea culpas, ludicrous excuses, and “no comments” from those parties named by Mitchell.

*The Hall of Fame. Any legitimate Hall of Fame candidate named in the report will see his candidacy irreparably damaged—or at the very least, seriously harmed in the short term. We already saw what happened to Mark McGwire in his first year on the ballot. The same stigma will befall any retired or aging superstars, unless they can convincingly refute steroid claims or prove that their use was extremely limited.

*Champions and dynasties. While individual players have always been the focus of the Mitchell investigation, some teams could become unintended victims. Any World Championship team from the mid-1990s through 2003 could have its reputation severely scarred if it’s shown that a sizeable group of players (let’s say five or six) from that club used steroids. Even the Yankee dynasty of 1996 to 2000 could be tarnished if the findings finger too many key players from Joe Torre’s reign. There won’t be actual asterisks, just as there never will be with individual records, but clearly discernible scarlet letters will become attached to champions…

On to more pleasant conversation. The Orioles did well in parting ways with Miguel Tejada for a package of five players. Luke Scott is a serviceable 29-year-old hitter who will fill the left field vacancy, Troy Patton and Matt Albers are decent pitching prospects who could crack the back of Baltimore’s rotation, and Mike Costanzo might be able to replace Melvin Mora at third base by 2009. Given Tejada’s offensive decline, his chronic lack of hustle (I feel for Cecil Cooper), and his inflated salary, the package that Baltimore extracted from Houston is more than adequate. As for the Astros, I’m not sure what they’re trying to do here. Tejada needs a contending team to rejuvenate his passion and enthusiasm for the game; it’s hard to see the Astros providing that pennant-contending background in a division that features far stronger alternatives in Chicago and Milwaukee. I’m also curious to see how the Astros will employ Tejada. If they put him at shortstop, they’ll have to trade Adam Everett, who’s the millennium’s version of Mark Belanger (as in great-field, absolutely no-hit). Or the Astros could shift Tejada to third (where he belongs), but that would make mid-season pickup Ty Wigginton extraneous. Either way, a follow-up trade seems in order…

Finally, it seems the Giants came out of nowhere to sign Aaron Rowand. That will happen when you offer a player six years worth $60 million. I love Rowand’s game, but am disappointed that he didn’t see fit to take less money from a better team. Rowand’s hellbent style of play will be hidden in San Francisco, playing for a team that doesn’t figure to contend for at least the first half of that contract.

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5 comments

  1. Bruce

    A follow-up to the Tejada trade. The Astros non-tendered Adam Everett on Wednesday, so shortstop is freed up for Tejada, with Ty Wigginton remaining at third.

    I’d expect Everett to be snapped up by a team like the Rays or the Twins.

  2. kd8eup@gmai.com

    Major League Baseball under Bud Selig is a joke. The owners couldn’t even select an independent person to run their business. They turned the other cheek at all this cheating because it was just dollars and cents. The weakest group of owners I’ve ever seen. Plus a Union that is only interested in defending their folks, not in the games integrity. If Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose can’t get into the Hall of Fame, neither should Mark McQuire and Roger Clemons. To think what Roger Maris had to endure in breaking Babe Ruth’s HR Record . Could we get someone like Roger Goodell in the game who might take behavior and drugs a little more serious? Clemons and Bonds, it will be interesting when someone puts all the steroid users together for the Steroid All-Time Team. It just makes me sick with NO HOPE IN SIGHT with this union and management….

    Nick Valentine

  3. dontcallmemikey@yahoo.com

    Sorta makes one wonder about not only the Tejada trade, but also the story from a couple of years ago when Rafael Palmeiro blamed Tejada for giving him a substance that cause him to test positive for steroids … MLB cleared Tejada, and so did the Orioles. Story was fishy at the time, and Palmeiro was blistered in the press for ‘blaming’ Tejada – but, could he have been telling the truth?

    Here’s the money quote fro Tejada at the time:

    “Tejada dismissed Palmeiro’s assertion as implausible.

    “Right now I’m in shock,” Tejada, a former American League MVP, said after Baltimore lost to the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

    “I’ve never given anybody steroids before,” he said. “I’ve been checked out three times already, and I’m clean. I’ve been clean all my life.”

    Now, if he was lying about being clean, isn’t it possible he was also lying about the B-12? And if so, could the Orioles have had a hand in helping him cover it up?

  4. giantsmets@gmail.com

    Bruce,
    my dad brought up an interesting point today. He said Pettitte may have wanted his deal done yesterday because he knew the report would have him all over it today.

    What do u think?

    -Matt Tracy

  5. Bruce

    Matt, I think that’s a pretty sound theory. Pettitte’s negotiating stance certainly wouldn’t have been helped by today’s news. In a way, the Yankees are also probably happy the contract is done so that they don’t have to deal with any media inquiries about steroids during the negotiating process.

    I’ll be curious to hear what Pettitte has to say about all of this.

    Also, for anyone who cares, Everett did sign with the Twins today.

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