Mitchell Mania is upon us, and Roger Clemens is the big name, but I don't think many baseball fans were shocked by that one. This is what I wrote when he rejoined the Yankees back in May:
"Or maybe, though I hate to bring it up today, it'll come out that he took steroids. There's no hard evidence, but the rumors have swirled for a while, and anyone with that kind of late-career surge has to make you wonder. Clemens also has that "my actual skull has expanded over the years" sort of look to him, plus roid rage (and little else) could explain the Mike Piazza-thrown bat debacle. But you know what? I'm going to ignore that for the moment, and hope there's no fire underneath all the smoke. Or that he never gets caught. Whichever."Oh well. Clemens is denying it -- vehemently! -- but I don't think there's much doubt at this point. And if you argued that Barry Bonds should get an asterisk and be barred from the Hall of Fame, you'd damn well better argue the same about Clemens, or else all Bonds' ranting about a racist double standard will look a lot less like ranting.
The rest of the report, though, is largely useless, just because it's so clearly (and admittedly) incomplete. This can only be a fraction of the players who used PEDs, since Mitchell leaned so incredibly heavily on one source, Radomski, for so much of his information. We still don't know the whole truth, and we never will; time to work on better drug tests and move the hell on.
But, before we do that: While there are, by my quick and probably incomplete count, 15 players in the report who were on the Yankees at one time or another (I've got 10 Mets, but I might be missing some -- I don't recognize a few of these names), there's not one single mention in here of Brian Cashman or Steinbrenner (or Minaya or Phillips or Wilpon).
How could the front office have been unaware of what was going on, when at LEAST five players** on the 2000 Yankees --the World Champion Yankees -- may well have been juicing? And if they were aware, what, if anything, did they do about it? McNamee, the trainer who says he injected Clemens, was hired by the Yankees at Roger’s request, but dismissed after 2001. Why? Because they realized he was distributing PEDs? That’s just speculation of course, but it’s a natural question, and Mitchell doesn’t seem to have asked it.
The one front office guy who comes out looking truly awful is Giants GM Brian Sabean, and if the Giants have a modicum of integrity left -- unlikely, at this point -- they'll fire him immediately. It's one thing to look the other way while Bonds took steroids. But Sabean apparently heard as far back as 2002 that Bonds' personal trainer, who was allowed in restricted clubhouse areas against the advice of the Giants' own training staff, was getting other players on the team interested in steroids and probably distributing them. And Sabean did absolutely nothing about it (pgs 121-125). Staggeringly spineless and uninspiring leadership there, from the man who once signed Armando Benitez to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Anyway, it will be sort of morbidly interesting to watch the fallout from this, but outside of the Clemens confirmation, I don't think it changes much in the long run.
The day's other interesting story was Alex Rodriguez's conference call officially announcing his new $275 million contract: he said Scott Boras convinced him to opt out by telling him that the Yankees had no interest in keeping him. Can that really be true? Is Boras even creepier and more manipulative than we all assumed? Or is Rodriguez just trying to look like the good guy in all this? Does anybody still care? Tune in next time...
**Note: I'm not counting Pettitte because there's no indication here that he took anything before or after 2002; and David Justice, Mike Stanton, and Chuck Knoblauch are all described in the report as starting their (Radomski-related) PED use after the 2000 World Series. But if you're not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt -- and I would certainly understand if Mets fans felt that way -- you could make it nine. I've still got: Hill, Canseco, Neagle, Clemens, Grimsley.