The Denver Post reported on Wednesday that Mitchell’s investigation on the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball is expected to be released sometime before Christmas. In that report will be the names of current and former major league players who have used steroids and human growth hormones.
For the past year, Mitchell, a Democrat from Maine, has been at the helm of a team of lawyers and investigators who have been questioning and investigating MLB players who have been surrounded by rumors of steroid use. It is uncertain as to how many players will be named in the report or what Selig will do once the report is made. I am certain, though, that this report’s rippling effect, once released, will not reach far.
In gathering his information, Mitchell has requested interviews from a number of players (rumors have said as many as two to three dozen players) to get to the bottom of steroid use in baseball. Although Mitchell has no authority to subpoena players into talking, Selig has said time and again that he will deal with those players who refuse to cooperate.
Early in the investigation, Barry Bonds’s lawyer, Michael Rains, told The New York Times that if Bonds were asked to be a part of Mitchell’s interviewing process he would decline to speak if it would risk incriminating himself.
Bonds’s statement was made back in May, before he broke Hank Aaron’s all-time homerun record and before he was indicted in November on five felony charges – four for perjury and one for obstruction of justice when he testified before a federal grand jury in 2003 stating that he never used anabolic steroids or human growth hormones. Bonds said in May that there is no way he would make a statement to the Mitchell investigation unless the federal government’s investigation ends. For now, it looks like the feds called your bluff Barry.
Barry Bonds is the perfect example of why the Mitchell investigation will be one big waste of time. What baseball player, in their right mind, is just going to say OK to an interview with Mitchell’s investigators and risk incriminating themselves to the use of steroids? Commissioner Selig has not given them any reason to talk to Mitchell, either in the form of anonymity or lighter punishments. Bonds couldn’t even tell the truth when he was under oath in front of a federal grand jury. Selig is expecting players to just come in, be good guys and tell the commission what they did wrong, all for the good of baseball. Give me a break. And what if players refuse to talk? Or else…what? You get the point.
Legally, the players don’t have to say squat and their lawyers know it. If this investigation meant anything to the players and teams around the league, it wouldn’t be business as usual in the days before the release of the investigation’s findings.
Over the past week, players, some of whom have been named in steroid cases, have continued to be traded and bought from teams. Steroid allegations certainly didn’t stop the Royals on Tuesday from picking up former Seattle outfielder Jose Guillen after his reported involvement in the purchase of $20,000 worth steroids and human growth hormones.
According to the Denver Post, one player’s agent said the investigation “hasn’t made a bit of difference. The money machine will just keep moving along.”
For Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, it’s important to make sure teams invest in players who have a clean past but said its hard because “you never know for sure, but we haven’t dealt with that issue much.”
For now it is anybody’s guess on what Mitchell is going to present to Selig and the baseball world this holiday season. Unfortunately, I don’t think the findings will be enough to solve baseball’s black eye of a steroid problem. When Selig really wants to crack down on the use in baseball, he probably could. That would be a huge undertaking and would cost baseball a fortune, so maybe Selig’s Mitchell investigation is just a ploy to waste time until his retirement day comes. Then the problem will be left to the new commish. In either case, the tunnel if steroid use in MLB is long, dark and seemingly unending.