The Litigious Society
I must confess that I haven’t read the Mitchell Report, so I can’t condemn Bud Selig for admitting the same thing. Actually, I gained a modicum of respect for him for this admission.
Apparently, its 409 pages. I’m sure it contains a great deal of legalize jargon, with lots of big words to impress the masses.
I’m reminded of a classic quote in The Godfather, when Don Corleone is counselling his consigliore, a lawyer by the name of Tom Hayden. Hayden decides to go to law school and avert becoming a made man after the Don tells him that lawyers with briefcases steal lots more money than do men with pistols.
What was Mitchell & co’s bill to MLB? $40 million. Wow. Nice work if you can get it. What did he provide? Well, there were about 90 names of ballplayers that used performance enhancing drugs. Hmm, either that works out to $444K per name, or $98K per page. I think I’ll factor that in the next time I send the Falcons my bill for this column.
And what did these 90 names accomplish? The average fan already knew the sport was riddled with drugs. Both the bodies and numbers were vastly over inflated. When Sammy Sosa hit his 66HR’s and Mark McGwire his 70 and they had that big love fest at home plate, what was the point? To win the fans affection back after the 94 strike? They would have come crawling back anyway. The tide started to turn when Bonds, the arch enemy, hit his 73rd. That’s when it was no longer acceptable. The hypocrisy is so deep that it would overflow the Green Monster.
If MLB was going to spend $40 million on a 409 page report and get 90 names from it, they should have approached me first. I guarantee I would have charged quite a bit less and gotten a lot of the same names for them. I could’ve hired Detective Sipowicz from NYPD Blue, and had him shake down the two primary clubhouse rats who got pressured by the Feds. We could’ve split the bill, and then it would have been easy street.
If you’re starting to detect a little bit of cynicism, I’ll tell you why. It is my belief that all the major league teams are just as complicit and culpable as the players in this steroid fiasco. The owners and teams should have been called out in the report, but weren’t. And why, pray tell, is that?? Along with being a Director of the Boston Red Sox, Senator George Mitchell is also the Chairman of the Board of Walt Disney Corporation. Why is that pertinent? Well, Disney owns ESPN and ABC, which pay major league baseball a substantial amount of money for television rights. Couldn’t that be construed as a conflict of interest?
Since I did admit that I haven’t read the report, maybe the MLB teams and owners have been criticized, in which case I stand corrected. However, it appears to me that the players union is taking the blunt of the blame when both parties deserve equal culpability. It should be blatantly obvious that the front offices across the sport both condoned this and turned a blind eye to it. It just would have been nice if they had been called out on it. It also would have been a good idea to hire someone who didn’t have direct ties to either party so that the report could have been a tad more objective.
To be honest, I couldn’t care less if these millionaire athletes decide to threaten their health for a little bit of glory. What is bothersome to me are all the kids who emulate these guys and decide to take the same hazardous risks. In that respect, maybe the end result is positive. In the long run, the sport will be cleared up and the drug usage will ultimately cease and desist.
One ballplayer who deserve praise is Mark Grace, the former Cub and DiamondBack how played a power position (1B) in the height of the era and didn’t succumb to the temptations. One year Grace hit 9HR’s playing full time in Wrigley Field, which is a hitter’s paradise. Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez are two others, two future Hall of Famers who maintained their integrity. You could always tell, just by looking at them. It is nice to know that there are some honourable people in MLB.
The sport will survive this latest scandal, as it has in the past. The game has always been bigger than those who run it, or those who decide that the end justifies the means. Cheating has been a part of the lure of the game, whether it be the spitball era, or the stealing of signs, or corked bats etc.
However, the health of the players and the kids who idolize them never has.