While I’m going linking stuff I’d like to point you to Maury Brown’s Biz of Baseball where he tipped me off about what is to come. Expect it before Christmas--probably some time in the next three weeks. Maury’s article is the pragmatically named Could MLB Get a Pass on the Mitchell Report? and he sums it up best here:
Based on reports, the Mitchell investigation will offer up a forward looking set of recommendations, and not address how the PED culture in baseball was allowed to permeate. In other words, baseball may be given a free pass for matters in the past and present, with only the named players as ones being held accountable.
If this is indeed the case, then many, this author included, will be ready to paint the entire report as a sham.
Here’s the thing: anabolic steroids were very good for the business of baseball. Fans flocked to the ballpark to watch epic home run hitting, they bought cable and internet packages etc. It also allowed star attractions to recover more quickly from injury for a time. Bud Selig and baseball management in general looked the other way.
Like any employer, they want maximum production out of their workforce and PED gave them precisely that. In other industries, employee safety is often compromised because creating a safe environment costs money. It is much more profitable to ignore the well-being of their workers. Therefore, management could not care less if players were ruining their health. If it meant health problems down the road for these athletes--who cares? They won’t be producing revenue at that point anyway.
After AP writer Steve Wilstein received a major backlash for reporting Mark McGwire’s androstenedione usage the media did likewise and simply pretended steroid/hGH abuse wasn't there. Besides, why ruin the exciting story of milestones falling just to report the truth?
The MLBPA was not about to allow testing because publicly they were concerned about players right of privacy. On the other hand, they privately wished to protect the salary bar at all costs even if most players wanted an even playing field.
Players with eye-popping numbers received equally eye-popping deals. Those contracts pushed the salary bar up, up and up to new, never before seen heights!
It didn’t matter that their constituents did not wish to feel obligated to put such substances into their body just to get or retain a big league job. While management eagerly sacrificed player health for money, the union did likewise--to protect their cherished salary bar. In a mind-boggling bit of devotion to monster contracts, a poll conducted by USA Today revealed that 17% of the players were against independent steroid testing, while 79% were in favor while 44% stated that they felt pressure to juice to keep their jobs.
Well, that’s interesting; it would be the perfect time to touch base with their constituents to see how strong the feeling was--right? Wrong, shortly thereafter, MLBPA executive director Don Fehr told the senate not to consider unsubstantiated newspaper reports as fact.
Ultimately, it took congressional pressure to get both sides to act upon the problem.
It appears Mitchell will ignore all this; he will simply make some recommendations to ensure this never happens again. As a bonus, he’ll out some players who will bear the brunt of the public’s wrath and probably take a financial hit with their next either contract or loss of endorsements.
Bottom line? It took years of research and millions of dollar to find a few scapegoats for baseball’s steroid era. It almost sounds like something a politician would do--doesn’t it?
What a minute…