Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report: Politics As Usual

Sports fans from around the country have been salivating for this day. With a budget of $20 million, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell was hired by Major League Baseball to investigate steroid use among its' players. While names like Mark McGuire, Jason Giambi, Jose, Canseco, and Barry Bonds had been thrown around like candy out of a pinata over the past several years, most other players probably held out hope that their names wouldn't appear on what some have referred to as "The List." Surely, Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada would have loved for this day to have come and gone without the new found fanfare that doesn't go along with signing autographs, but realistically, the list was small. Some 80 or so former and current players - 7 MVPs and 31 all-stars - were named in the 400 plus page report that covers the use and abuse of steroids in baseball. So what? What now?
If you listen to Mitchell; it's over. He was paid to compile a list of offenders so the national media would have something to talk about. Seriously? How can a sport really think they will clean up their image by producing such a high profile document with so many accusations and decide to just move on? Whereas I may not yet be a parent, but if I were, I'd be furious if I had a kid playing sports and watching as these players get a seemingly free pass. Wasn't part of the point to be made that if you break the law or cheat and get caught, you get punished? Isn't that what we try to teach young athletes?
Having followed Mitchell's career as a Mainer, I have great respect for the wonderful contributions he's made to our nation and others, but this is a joke. If anything, it is a time to take a stand. If you say you want to clean the sport up and produce real role models, this is the wrong way to go about it. All it has done is provide fodder for sports talk shows and basically said that cheating and lying is okay if you're a high profile athlete. In my book, Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner needs to take a stand and follow-up on his statement from today. Not that Selig has really done a great job in cleaning up the sport, but at least he has the opportunity to take this report and run with it. Suspend players, fine players; do something to ensure that this was not all for naught. Our game and our youth need something more to come from this. I don't need a report to tell me that someone has been on the "juice," I want a report that tells me that participating in such illegal actions is unjust, unethical, and punishable. All great politicians learn how to play both sides of the aisle, but in this arena and in this fight, there shoudn't be such a middle ground.