Well, today's the day. And it's a lawyer's and former senate majority leader's count. Game time for the Mitchell report: 2pm. It's clear who the winners will be- but not so much who the losers are. And there will be at least 60 of them, MVPs, all-stars, record-breakers, and your occasional second-stringer. Although, if you compare pictures of players throughout the years, it can be easy to glean which ones bulked up, whether unnaturally or not.
Although it is a responsible thing to hold players, many of whom make millions of dollars by salaries and endorsements, it is also a bit strange. Certain steroids are illegal in the States, no matter what use you put to them - if they're in your possession, or you attempt to buy them, you're committing a federal offense. The players who engage in these type of activity certainly should be punished and put at the very top of the list. But it gets a bit trickier after that. The Mitchell report goes back probably around ten years, but most "legal" steroids have not been officially banned by the Baseball Commissioners until 2002, or some as late as 2005. So while all what the players might have been doing before this time is definitely despicable, it was not illegal by the standards they played under in the pre-2002 baseball era. Then the question becomes, well, even if it was technically not a banned practice, doesn't the public have a right to know who was doing it? Many say yes, and they are probably right. But the question becomes, how do we ethically categorize and make exception for certain technologies? It seems, in terms of sports, new technologies and aspects that enhance the play of sports are viewed both as a blessing and a curse, and often the non-biological technologies are dubbed blessings, while the physical ones are a definite curse. And maybe this is for the best. But why do we make the distinction? When a better catcher's mitt comes out, teams buy it. When better sunglasses for outfielders, better kleats, you name it - it's acceptable. So if a steroid is one of the "federally legal" substances, how could a player not be enticed to use it? The ethics enters here: it's a question of outer versus inner physical enhancement. How different are they? And if your opponents might be doing it, some players reason that it's in their best interests to hedge their bets and also partake in the enhancement elixir. Other sports have the same issues: faster speed skates, skis, bikes, wet suits, you name it - most are acceptable, but if any of these players has the trace amount of opiates that you might find in a poppy seed, forget about it, they're stripped of titles, medals and accolades. We ask our sports heroes to be super-human, and by god they will try to do so - everything about them revolves around their ability to out-perform, so they will use every possible method at they fingertips, and in some cases, their bloodstream.
Everybody wants to know who has been doping, but another problematical aspect of this report is that it only sheds light on the players that were incredibly sloppy - for example, those who payed for their drugs using personal checks, or were incredibly overt about their obtaining and using of the drugs. These people, in a sense, were asking for it, yet believed that as sports stars, they were immune to senate reports. Of course, as sports stars, senators would especially like to target them - they are one of the only groups that gets caught doing illegal things even more than politicans and still manages to have millions of fans... how many people sit around on a Sunday afternoon after pregaming with some Guinness and settle in for a few action-packed hours of C-Span?
Despite the juicy tidbits the Mitchell report is boasting, what it really needs to do is suggest some best practices for the baseball commission to implement, and really stick to. The past is past, and sports fans will always argue about which player was best and how their legacy affects the game, and their place in it. But let's not forget- there's always next season.