by Dan Bolles
I was all set to let fly with some serious musical bloggery today. But then I realized what day it was. Today is Thursday, December 13. Or, the day baseball died.
Before we continue, those with a thirst for "rants and raves of the musical kind" should head over to False 45th and check out the latest batch of 2007 Year End Music Survey results, including submissions from The Jazz Guys, the estimable Contrarian himself, Casey Rae-Hunter and yours truly. Have fun and we'll see you tomorrow.
For those who don't know, at 2 p.m. today, retired Senator George Mitchell releases the findings of his over-arching and controversial inquest into the use of performing enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. After 20 months and $60 million, the distinguished gentleman from The Great State of Maine will answer, in explicit detail, how widespread steroid and HGH use is in America's Pastime. And he's naming names.
After years of speculation and public discontent, Mitchell's report will shed a harsh and unforgiving light on the darkest corners of the game. Already, hours before the official press conference takes place, names have begun to leak and whispers of full-scale complicity from the Commissioner's Office to the bat boys can be heard around the country. The first name tossed to the wind? Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher in the history of the game.
Mitchell's report is rumored to contain as many as 80 names, many of them high-profile players. Of particular note, "several prominent players" from the New York Yankees are said to be implicated in the Senator's findings. But it's unlikely any team will emerge unscathed.
Without question, the validity of the ex-Senator's report will immediately be placed on trial. Mitchell was not granted subpoena power and relied heavily on word of mouth and, potentially, hearsay from a variety of sources around the league. As such, access to players and league executives was likely limited at best. Additionally, Mitchell serves on the Board of Directors for the Boston Red Sox. Many have already questioned the wisdom of employing an investigator so intimately involved with not only the game, but one particular team. It's certainly a fair question.
Baseball commissioned Mitchell with the admirable intent of clearing the game's good name. The pall cast on baseball by the looming specter of cheating has been nothing short of a black eye for nearly a decade. But are Major League Baseball and George Mitchell opening Pandora's Box?
Ironically, steroids likely saved the game. Following 1994's bitter labor dispute which led to the cancellation of more than 900 games and the World Series, baseball was on life support. Then in 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's epic race to break one of the game's most hallowed records, Roger Maris' single-season mark of 61 home runs, sparked a resurgence of interest, rescuing baseball from a slow and painful demise. But as any fan of the game knows, McGwire and Sosa cheated. They were juiced.
While Mitchell's report will almost certainly nail some of the game's biggest stars, the question remains whether or not he'll bite the hand that feeds him and address the underlying and perhaps criminal issue of complicity from baseball's higher-ups. Does anyone really believe that Commissioner Bud Selig was completely ignorant to the cancer ravaging his sport? If so, what does that say about his competence to govern the game? Selig made a deal with Devil. It appears that payment may be coming due.
Judgment day may well be on the horizon for the game itself. Mitchell's report is merely the beginning. Players, owners, management and executives should all be held accountable for their crimes against the game. If they are, will anyone be left standing?