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Thoughts on the Mitchell Report

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy on the sea-shore, diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

-Sir Isaac Newton

It's been four days since the Mitchell Report was released to the public, and while some new people and details have been made known, I don't believe it accomplished what the commissioner thought it would. Because Major League Baseball did not grant Senator Mitchell subpoena power, no one was obliged to speak unless obliged by an outside power. The two major new sources would not have divulged anything without the spectre of criminal charges staring them in the face. At best this report gave us a tiny glimpse of the truth, a truth which we will probably never totally know.

The report did give us another big name to sink their teeth into: Roger Clemens. Like Barry Bonds, Clemens was probably a Hall of Famer well before he allegedly started to take PEDs. His reputation, though, will never be the same, even though we'll probably have no conclusive proof that he did take them. And that's the problem with the so-called "Steroid Era" - all we have are allegations and denials. There were no meaningful drug testing during this period of time, something  Major League Baseball and the Players' Association deserves an equal amount of blame for. MLB is going to have to live with that ambiguity for eternity; no Mitchell Report or any other investigation can completely lay the past bare. The Hall of Fame votes are probably where this question will be debated most fiercely, especially over the next few decades, when the most talented tainted players become or remain eligible for the Hall. But that debate will be moral, not factual.

With that said, Commissioner Selig should make his immediate priority not punishment but putting in place the most stringent testing program in professional sports. I would think both sides, union and ownership, are now sufficiently humbled  to work together on this. While the Steroid Era  and the Post-Steroid Era certainly did not drive fans away from the sport, it's probably not a good idea to pretend the issuance of the report completely mends whatever public doubts exist.Selig should also keep in mind that it was the Strike of 1994 which eroded fan interest, not the use of PEDs. Suspensions of players based on the evidence in the report is not going to fly with the Players' Association, because that evidence is extremely weak. It's time to move forward, not to try to exorcise nebulous demons.