Friday, December 14, 2007

Your Obligatory Mitchell Report Post

Mike Segar/REUTERS

I know this doesn't have a whole lot do with hockey (but wait for the conclusion I tie it all in! Promise!), but it's Friday and frankly I need to take a breather after spending two hours on the darned Ice Sheet last night. If you're wondering, I did in fact butcher it.

Right now I'm going to take a few moments, and I promise only one post, addressing what the entire sports world is talking about; the Mitchell Report. To sum it up in one sentence, it detailed the the steroid/HGH/etc usage of 85 present and former major leaguers.

First point: If you didn't see this coming, you're probably not from this planet. After players set decades and decades of statistical marks, it should have seemed a little fishy when one 15-year period came along and obliterated it all. Sure, players improve and technology, fitness training and many other factors affect sports. Eventually, there will be someone to break every record that has ever been set. BUT, when so many records are obliterated in such a sort period of time, not to mention the enormous growth of many players themselves, you knew something had to be up. This is really just telling us what we already know, expect in so many words. When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record, it was the culmination of the inevitable. When Mark McGwire passed Roger Maris' record for home runs in a single season, as long as you looked past the size of McGwire, you could also easily assume that it was another culmination of the inevitable. When it happened six times in a four year span, it only proved the notion that something fishy was going on.

In recent times, steroids have been as much a part of baseball as a double play. It was really a matter of time until all of this came to a head. It's the sad reality of the situation. The saddest part though, would be the distinct possibility that the claims made in Mitchell's report are not all truth and not all substantial. I'm no lawyer, but from what I read from trusted sources, it appears much of the evidence would not hold up in court. That's the problem. It's impossible to tell who bought steroids for medicinal purposes, who is wrongly accused and, of course, all the players who used steroids for cheating purposes and got away with it. It's a whole big vat of slander.

Before I get too off track, I need to stress that the Mitchell Report was really thanks to all of America, more so the people behind baseball, being too naive and potentially covering it all up. Prior to the release of the report, I listened to ESPN's Karl Ravage (career journalist), John Kruk (former player) and Steve Phillips (former GM) engage in a round table discussion on ESPN. The whole talk consisted of each one defending why they had no ideas that steroids were such a problem in baseball and defending why, if they did know anything about it, they did nothing. For Ravage, who admitted to not hearing about steroids until the last five or so years, it's a shame. When confronted with the notion he told about how he was confused and didn't understand their power. While that's a fair point, it's just further proof of the lack of investigative journalism that exists in the country today. Couldn't Ravage have asked questions? Isn't that what journalists get paid to do?

And today we should all not be so naive as to think that a scenario like this doesn't exist in hockey or other sports. Bryan Berard and Sean Hill are among the vast minority of NHL players who have failed a drug test. It would be too naive to think that they may be the only ones. I'm not saying there's a baseball-sized problem in hockey, it's just that we can never be too sure. Think about it this way. Think of how many people you know that have gotten a speeding ticket in the past couple of years. Now think about how many times that person (and feel free to include yourself) has probably sped in the same time frame. Most people don't get caught, and drug tests are no different. The rate at which offenders are caught may be higher for drug tests, but there's always people who can get away with it.

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