The Mitchell Report: Blame It On The Juice

The cover of the Mitchell Report

My husband and I are going through a very stressful time right now. Our marriage is fine but we are trying to buy our first house and damn is it proving to be a challenge. You can only be disappointed so many times before you just want to give up. But do you know what makes me feel better? Watching other people’s lives fall apart. I’m just kidding! A good old sports scandal is what makes me feel better. It just tickles my cold soul and brightens up my day. As you all know the Major League Baseball 2022 Hall of Fame inductees were announced yesterday evening and the only one who made it in was David “Big Papi” Ortiz. Congratulations to him. He very much deserves it. Some well-known names on the ballot that did not make it in were; Barry Bonds (final year on ballot), Roger Clemens (final year on ballot), Curt Schilling (final year on ballot), Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa (final year on ballot), and Andy Pettitte. These “snubs” have raised the age-old argument about accused/known juicers being allowed into the Hall of Fame. Should they get in for their accomplishments in the sport or should they not even be considered because those accomplishments can be linked to cheating? Maybe this will help us decide. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Mitchell Report.

Let’s just be upset and say if we could all cheat to get something we want, we most likely would. It’s just human nature to have the urge to get something easy rather than work for it. At some point in our lives, we have all probably cheated on a test in school or in a game we played with friends and family. But in the larger scheme of things about 75% of people don’t give in to the urge because it’s morally wrong. And in some cases, illegal. Would I shoot up steroids to be able to lift heavier in the gym and get the body I want, no, but only because I know it’s not the right thing to do. Not to mention all the health risks. But in the dog-eat-dog world of sports (especially baseball) can we blame these players for injecting themselves with hormones to make them faster or to help them hit a ball further? Well, I guess the answer just lies within people’s personal opinions on the matter.

The Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball, better known as the Mitchell Report, is the outcome of former Democratic United State Senator from Maine George J. Mitchell’s 20-month investigation into the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) in Major League Baseball (MLB). The 409-page report was released on December 13, 2007, and covers the history of illegal performance-enhancing substance use by players in the league as well as the effectiveness of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The report also listed recommendations regarding the handling of past illegal drug use and future prevention practices. The report called out 89 MLB players who are alleged to have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs throughout their careers.

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Actual footage of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte in the locker room

George Mitchell, who was also a former federal prosecutor,Boston Red Sox director, and ex-chairman of The Walt Disney Company, was appointed by Commissioner of Baseball Allan “Bud” Selig on March 30, 2006, to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport. He was handed the task after the controversial 2006 book Game of Shadows by reporters Lane Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada was published. The investigative reports documented the alleged extensive use of performance enhancers, including several different types of steroids and HGH by baseball all-stars Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and Jason Giambi. Do you know what’s horrible? I was a New York Yankees fan and I forgot all about Giambi. Shame, shame. This led to several influential members of the U.S Congress making negative remarks about the effectiveness and honesty of the MLB’s drug policies. Mitchell’s investigation mainly focused on high-profile players and did not investigate the role teams played as a whole. He reported that the Major League Baseball Players Association was “largely uncooperative” and did not want to speak with him. The Players Association effectively discouraged players from cooperating with the investigation.

Confidentiality was not a pressing concern in the matter. In 2003, the Players Association had agreed to anonymous testing, only to find out the list of players testing positive was turned over to the government as part of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative investigation. Mitchell later agreed to give Commissioner Selig an advanced copy of the report but refused to do the same for the Players Association. Out of the 5 players approached to be interviewed for the report based on public statements they had previously made on the issue; Toronto Blue Jays hitter Frank Thomas was the only one willing to cooperate. You know him, he does the commercials for those pills in the black bottle. The one where he and some other guys are golfing and they are approached by a couple and blah blah blah. In total, only 2 active players would end up being interviewed. One big break for investigators would come in the form of New York Mets former batboy and clubhouse employee, Kirk Radomski. At the time Radomski had been charged with distribution of a controlled substance and money laundering. He faced up to 30 years in prison but was able to reach a plea deal that was based upon his cooperation with the Mitchell Investigation. He ended up being a very critical witness and provided most of the players’ names that the general public did not know about. Radomski later plead guilty to all charges and received 5 years’ probation and a fine of $18,575.

Brian McNamee was a personal trainer mainly employed by Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and Chuck Knoblauch. He gained notoriety after the release of the Mitchell Report, in which he alleges that he helped acquire performance-enhancing drugs including anabolic steroids, amphetamines, and HGH for some or all of the players he trained. McNamee told the Mitchell Commission that he began injecting Clemens with steroids during the 1998 season and continued to do so through 2001. Clemens would claim many times that the steroid accusations made against him were false; McNamee never confirmed or denied this statement. He simply said, “It is what it is”. Leading people to believe that he was hinting that he told the truth during the investigation. Clemen’s would go on to file a lawsuit against McNamee for defamation of character. I don’t really know how that all turned out.

Before we continue, how do you even inject steroids? Does it go in your butt or your arm? How about your thigh? Like, how do these things even work? Don’t worry! I’m not going to do steroids. I already have a bad enough attitude without adding ‘roid rage on top of it. Larry Starr was a trainer that worked with the Cincinnati Reds for 30 years (1972-1992). He was interviewed by Mitchell’s investigators a minimum of 4 times, but all his information was omitted from the final report. He has spoken freely about the subject to the press, telling a reporter, “I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners’ group and the players’ association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, ‘Look, we need to do something about this. We’ve got a problem here if we don’t do something about it.’ That was in 1988.” Starr claimed the first player he knew to be using steroids was doing so in 1984, and that numerous members of the 1997 Florida Marlins used steroids. During an interview on the eve of the Marshall Reports release Starr stated, “From the conversations I had with them, I got the feeling they were very open to what I had to say. They were not just after names. I really felt like they wanted to hear the background on all this. I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time.” Well, he was wrong but they didn’t use shit that he said in the report.

Those were just three key players of the investigation but certainly not all of them. You’ve got to speak to a whole lot of people to get 89 players’ names. The final report describes motivations that led to its preparation, including health issues linked to steroids, legal issues, fair play, and reports that baseball players act as role models for children/child athletes. After news reports in August 1998 claimed that Mark McGwire had used the then-legal androstenedione (a steroid precursor), sales of the supplement increased over 1000%, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 8% of male high school senior athletes used androstenedione in 2001. George Mitchell reported that during the testing in 2003, 5 to 7% of players tested positive for steroid use. Players on the 40-man roster of major league teams were exempt from testing until 2004. An anonymous baseball player is quoted in the report: “Forty-man [roster] guys already have all of the [major league] club advantages, and then they could use steroids … it was not a level playing field.” According to the report, after mandatory random testing began in 2004, HGH became the substance of choice among players, as it was not then detectable in labs. It was also noted that at least one player from each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams had been involved in the alleged violations.

Among those implicated were well-known players such as Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Gagne. I will list all 89 players at the end of this article because why the hell not. In all 3 recommendations on how to move forward with performance-enhancing drug use in the MLB were listed in the report. To make them easier to read I will put them in list form: 

  1. Major League Baseball should utilize an independent testing administrator to improve their capability to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs, above and beyond the current urine testing program. Additionally, Major League Baseball should improve their methods of barring the drugs from the clubhouse. 
  1. Major League Baseball should improve their efforts to educate the players and others regarding the grim health dangers that result from this drug use. 
  1. When the club owners and the Players Association take up negotiations regarding the league’s drug program again, they should be guided by modern and first-rate standards. 

George Mitchell expressed that he hopes the readers of the report will look past the players’ names and focus more on the conclusions he reached during his investigation. Mitchell presented his conclusions in 5 sections:

  1. Major League Baseball’s 2002 response to steroid use resulted in players switching from detectable steroids to undetectable human growth hormone. 
  1. The use of performance-enhancing substances by players is illegal and ethically “wrong”. 
  1. While players that use illegal substances are responsible for their actions, that responsibility is shared by the entire baseball community for failing to recognize the problem sooner. 
  1. An exhaustive investigation attempting to identify every player that has used illegal substances would not be beneficial. 
  1. Major League Baseball should adopt the recommendations of the report as a first step in eliminating the use of illegal substances. 

After the now-infamous report was released, Bud Selig held a news conference in which he called the Mitchell Report “a call to action. And I will act.” Selig mentioned that some of the players mentioned in the report might face disciplinary actions. He stated; “Discipline of players and others identified in this report will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly.”

Donald Fehr, the executive director of the MLB Players Association, held a separate news conference in which he expressed his disappointment that the union was not given a chance to read the report before it was released to the public. He accepted some blame for the steroids problems within the organization but showed concern for how the league would treat the players that had been named. Going to swing back around to Roger Clemens again since he has been deemed the standout name on the list. The 7-time Cy Young Award winner (HE WON THE CY YOUNG AWARD 7 DAMN TIMES. 7!) issued a statement through his agent Randy Hendricks, saying “I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life.”

The day after the report went public, then-President of the United States George W. Bush, a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers, stated that “we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game.” Bush also claimed to have no prior knowledge or awareness of player steroid use. He further added, “My hope is that this report is part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us. Supposedly, the MLB’s drug testing policy became stricter after the Mitchell Report came out, in hopes of stopping steroid use in professional baseball. Before the report came out, the MLB had one unannounced mandatory test each year for every player and random tests for selective players during the season and the off-season. If tests came back positive, suspensions without pay were handed down. The first positive test resulted in a 10-day suspension. If a second test came back positive It jumped to a 30-day suspension. A third positive test gave a 60-day suspension and the fourth positive test had players slapped with a 1-year suspension.

December 14, 2007, Daily News magazine cover

After George Mitchell’s report came out, the MLB increased testing and punishments for using performance-enhancing drugs. Unannounced tests for each player now occur twice a year and random tests for particular players still happen during the season and off-season. The league also started examining a wider range of substances during player testing. As of 2015, the MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program tests for 8 different abusive drugs, 74 performance-enhancing drugs, and 56 stimulants. One of the 74 performance-enhancing drugs is HGH, a substance that was never tested for in the past. Suspension times increased as well. The first positive test will now earn an 80-game suspension, the second a 162-game suspension, and the third positive test results in a lifetime ban from the sport. I don’t think that’s happened to any player as of right now. And if it has, I never heard about it.

Some people questioned whether being a director of the Boston Red Sox created a conflict of interest for George Mitchell, especially since no prime Red Sox players were named in the report, although Red Sox superstars David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were later alleged to have used performance-enhancing substances during the 2003 season. Likewise, the report was commissioned by Selig, and no members of the Milwaukee Brewers, whom Selig once owned, appeared in the report. Well, isn’t that peculiar? The report was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle shortly before game 7 of the 2007 American League Championship Series between the Cleveland Indians (now the Cleveland Guardians) and the Boston Red Sox. This was cause for some players and reporters to note the curious timing of the leak. In particular, Indians pitcher Paul Byrd, as well as some of his teammates, felt that the timing of publicizing Byrd’s alleged steroid use was suspicious.

Former U.S prosecutor John M. Dowd also mentioned allegations of Mitchell’s conflict of interest. Dowd had defended Senator John McCain during the Keating Five investigation in the late 1980s and cited how he took exception to Mitchell’s scolding of McCain and others for having a conflict of interest with their actions in the case. However, after the investigation came to an end, Dowd stated in an interview that he felt confident that Mitchell had done a good job. The Los Angeles Times reported that George Mitchell knew that his “tight relationship with Major League Baseball left him open to criticism.” Mitchell responded to these concerns by stating that people who examined the report closely “will not find any evidence of bias, or special treatment of the Red Sox.” If none of them are mentioned in the report, how could it be deemed if it was biased towards the team or if any special treatment was given? There probably was.

As promised, I will now list all 89 players named in the Mitchell Report. Whether you read the list is up to you but I’ll just leave it here in case you’re interested. Players who were active at the time the report was released will have an asterisk next to their name. Active players teams during the time of the investigation will be next to their name. Retired players will have the team they were last on next to their name:

Implicated in the BALCO Scandal

  1. Marvin Benard (San Francisco Giants)  
  1. Barry Bonds * (San Francisco Giants) 
  1. Bobby  Estalella (Toronto Blue Jays) 
  1. Jason Giambi * (New York Yankees) 
  1. Jeremy Giambi (Boston Red Sox) 
  1. Armando Rios (Chicago White Sox) 
  1. Benito Santiago (Pittsburgh Pirates) 
  1. Gary Sheffield * (Detroit Tigers) 
  1. Randy Velarde (Oakland Athletics) 

Identified as clients of Kirk Radomski

  1. Chad Allen (Orix Buffaloes) 
  1. Mike Bell (Cincinnati Reds) 
  1. Gary Bennett * (St. Louis Cardinals) 
  1. Larry Bigbie * (St. Louis Cardinals) 
  1. Kevin Brown (New York Yankees) 
  1. Mark Carreon (Chiba Lotte Marines) 
  1. Jason Christiansen (Anaheim [Los Angeles] Angels) 
  1. Howie Clark * (Toronto Blue Jays) 
  1. Roger Clemens * (New York Yankees) 
  1. Jack Cust * (Oakland Athletics) 
  1. Brendan Donnelly * (Anaheim [Los Angeles] Angels) 
  1. Chris Donnels (Arizona Diamondbacks) 
  1. Lenny Dykstra (Philadelphia Phillies) 
  1. Matt Franco (Chiba Lotte Marines) 
  1. Ryan Franklin (St. Louis Cardinals) 
  1. Eric Gagne * (Milwaukee Brewers) 
  1. Jason Grimsley (Arizona Diamondbacks) 
  1. Jerry Hairston Jr. * (Texas Rangers) 
  1. Matt Herges * (Florida Marlins) 
  1. Phil Hiatt (Los Angeles Dodgers) 
  1. Glenallen Hill (Anaheim [Los Angeles] Angels) 
  1. Todd Hundley (Los Angeles Dodgers) 
  1. David Justice (Oakland Athletics) 
  1. Chuck Knoblauch (Kansas City Royals) 
  1. Tim Laker (Cleveland Indians [Guardians]) 
  1. Mike Lansing (Boston Red Sox) 
  1. Paul Lo Duca * (New York Mets) 
  1. Exavier “Nook” Logan * (Washington Nationals) 
  1. Josias Manzanillo (Florida Marlins) 
  1. Cody Mckay (St. Louis Cardinals) 
  1. Kent Mercker * (Cincinnati Reds) 
  1. Bart Miadich (Yomiuru Giants) 
  1. Hal Morris (Detroit Tigers) 
  1. Danny Neagle (Colorado Rockies) 
  1. Jim Parque * (Tampa Bay Devil Rays [now just Rays]) 
  1. Andy Pettitte * (New York Yankees) 
  1. Adam Piatt (Tampa Bay Devil Rays [now just Rays]) 
  1. Todd Pratt * (Atlanta Braves) 
  1. Stephen Randolph * (Houston Astros) 
  1. Adam Riggs (Tokyo Yakult Swallows) 
  1. Brian Roberts * (Baltimore Orioles) 
  1. F.P Santangelo (Oakland Athletics) 
  1. David Segui (Baltimore Orioles) 
  1. Mike Stanton * (Cincinnati Reds) 
  1. Miguel Tejada * (Baltimore Orioles) 
  1. Mo Vaughn (New York Mets) 
  1. Ron Villone * (New York Yankees) 
  1. Fernando Vina (Detroit Tigers) 
  1. Rondell White * (Minnesota Twins) 
  1. Jeff Williams * (Hanshin Tigers) 
  1. Todd Williams * (Baltimore Orioles) 
  1. Kevin Young (Pittsburgh Pirates) 
  1. Gregg Zaun * (Toronto Blue Jays) 

Mentioned in connection to Signature Pharmacy

  1. Rick Ankiel * (St. Louis Cardinals) 
  1. David Bell (Milwaukee Brewers) 
  1. Paul Byrd * Cleveland Indians [Guardians]) 
  1. Jose Canseco (Chicago White Sox) 
  1. Jay Gibbons * (Baltimore Orioles) 
  1. Troy Glaus * (Toronto Blue Jays) 
  1. Jason Grimsley (Arizona Diamondbacks) * I know he is listed twice but he was implicated under two different things* 
  1. Jose Guillen * (Washington Nationals) 
  1. Jerry Hairston Jr. * (Texas Rangers) * I know he is listed twice but he was implicated under two different things* 
  1. Darren Holmes (Atlanta Braves) 
  1. Gary Matthews Jr. * (Texas Rangers) 
  1. John Rocker (Tampa Bay Devil Rays [now just Rays]) 
  1. Scott Schoeneweis * (Cincinnati Reds) 
  1. Ismael Valdez (Florida Marlins) 
  1. Matt Williams (Arizona Diamondbacks) 
  1. Steve Woodard (Boston Red Sox) 

Identified through direct interview

  1. Daniel Naulty (New York Yankees) 
  1. Wally Joyner (Anaheim [Los Angeles] Angels) 

Identified through other means

  1. Manny Alexander * (San Diego Padres) 
  1. Ricky Bones (Florida Marlins) 
  1. Alex Cabrera * (Seibu Lions) 
  1. Ken Caminiti (Atlanta Braves) 
  1. Paxton Crawford (Boston Red Sox) 
  1. Juan Gonzalez (Cleveland Indians [Guardians]) 
  1. Ryan Jorgensen * (Cincinnati Reds) 
  1. Mike Judd (Texas Rangers) 
  1. Rafael Palmeiro (Baltimore Orioles) 

Well, that was all the players named in the report. Did you see any of your favorite players on there or your favorite team? Unfortunately, my team popped up quite a few times. Oh well, whatcha gonna do? Over 10 years later we now know that some names were not listed in the report and they probably should have been. Most notably, Alex Rodriquez. He was called out by Jose Conseco when he asked reporters why A-Rod didn’t get a mention during the investigation. In February 2009, Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids, testosterone, and Primobolan. During the BALCO investigation, it was found that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids during the 2003 MLB season. In August 2013 he was suspended for the remainder of the season after violating the league’s PED policy. A-Rod immediately appealed the suspension but it was upheld in January 2014. However, he was allowed to play during the appeal process which dropped his suspension time drastically. Backed into a corner he would eventually admit to steroid use during his career. This opened a gigantic can of worms for the shortstop that some believe forced him into retirement. It must not have hurt him too much because he seems to be doing pretty damn well for himself. He recently broke off his engagement with Jennifer Lopez butt I’m still here and I can probably find a good divorce lawyer rather quickly. He also wore my favorite number (13) so, that’s a plus. It will all work out in the end.

Major League Baseball has been clouded by accusations of heavy steroid use for as long as I can remember. And I don’t think it will clear up anytime soon because if you want to get your hands on the stuff you will. Best believe players are still enjoying the juicy juice.

Sources:

“Mitchell Report” – Wikipedia

“George Mitchell on the legacy of the Mitchell Report” – ESPN

“Mitchell Report” – MLB.com

“The Shame of Baseball’s Mitchell Report” – Bleacher Report

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