I will never forget where I was when the Mitchell Report was released. I was sitting in a chair, staring into bright lights and a camera with a 20-year-old picture of the Atlanta skyline behind me. My laptop was stowed conveniently just off to the side for discrete access, and I was reviewing my talking points. I had been asked to comment on the economic implications of the investigation by CNBC earlier in the day, and I had barely scrambled together a collection of my nice clothes and navigate Atlanta traffic to make it to the studio on time.
I listened to Senator Mitchell’s speech intently through an ear-piece. This wasn’t going to be your standard back-and-forth on a pre-arranged topic, so I was a little nervous. Because I might have to comment on new information, I began to take notes. And then it began to hit me. I was getting hot, and my butt was starting to hurt. “How long have I been sitting here?” I thought. The producer popped on my ear-piece, “You still there J.C.? We’ll go to you first thing after he finishes.” But he just wouldn’t stop talking, and I knew what was about to happen. “J.C., I’m sorry but he’s gone to long and we don’t have time for your segment.” Filibuster. I probably wasn’t the only talking head who pulled off an ear-piece and walked out without saying a word. Deep down, I suspected that the uncertainty inherent in live news made it very likely that I would get bumped, so I just laughed.
Anyway, at least I got some good notes. I thought Mitchell did a nice job of summarizing the report. I’m still not through every word, but his summary made it easier for me to skip around the document. I was also impressed that he requested amnesty for past deeds, even though I am not sure how many reported actions would result in a punishment. I was not expecting this, and I think it is a good move.
One thing I was disappointed with in the press conference was his emphasis on players switching to human growth hormone from steroids. I kind of have a thing about this. But, when I got home and read the report, I was surprised to find the document stated the following.
A number of studies have shown that use of human growth hormone does not increase muscle strength in healthy subjects or well-trained athletes. Athletes who have tried human growth hormone as a training aid have reached the same conclusion. The author of one book targeted at steroid abusers observed that “[t]he most curious aspect of the whole situation is that I’ve never encountered any athlete using HGH to benefit from it, and all the athletes who admit to having used it will usually agree: it didn’t/doesn’t work for them.”
Can we get plaques that say this and hang them all clubhouses and press boxes?
I’m not sure that Mitchell’s plan makes any structural changes that will meaningfully alter performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. His independent Department of Investigations doesn’t look all that independent to me. I think as a politician, he considers it his duty to propose a new committee or department as part of a solution to any problem.
I am sure I will have more comments as a read, but I wanted to go ahead and post my initial thoughts…and tell my silly story.