Consider yesterday’s announcement of performance-enhancing drug suspensions to be the elephants, acrobats, and clowns marching into town to set up a big tent with three rings where we can witness the circus that will follow release of the Mitchell Report.
Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons were both suspended 15 games based on evidence that they purchased growth hormone and possibly steroids, sometime between 2003 and 2005. The odd length of the suspensions is based on the stated punishment for a second violation under the 2002 Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (if anyone has a link to the actual document, please pass it along), which I believe did not include a suspension for a first offense.
What does this mean for all of those rumored names that are included in the report? Will the MLB season begin with a few dozen players sitting out the first-half of April? It’s hard to tell, but I think the non-suspension of four other players for whom “there was insufficient evidence of a violation” is the bigger story. It appears that Guillen and Gibbons are getting busted because of a paper trail—Gibbons has apologized and will not appeal, while Guillen plans to appeal. Unsubstantiated testimony is not going to be sufficient, and my guess is that the Mitchell Report’s individual investigation will include many accusations without confirmation. Let’s not forget the list of players accused if using PEDs over the past few years is far longer than six players. I wouldn’t think that MLB is treating these cases like they handle end-of-the-year awards—one a day for several days. I would not be surprised if Gibbons is the only player who sits out the start of the season because of a PED violation. But, we’ll just have to wait and see.