Today, MLB and The Mitchell Report will produce and promote the biggest $25 million sham since the Orioles signed Aubrey Huff.
As Jack Nicholson once screamed: "YOU can’t HANDLE the truth!"
The real "truth" will NEVER be known.
I was IN all of those clubhouses for all of those years. I literally was in the Orioles clubhouse before and after almost every game from 1992 through 1998. So was Peter Schmuck and Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian and Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark and everyone else whose work and reactions you will read and see over the next two days, responding to this 400-page, almost phone-bookish portrayal of how screwed up baseball’s drug culture is/was during the turn of the century.
It will make for some great "semi-fiction," but what’s the end game here?
To prove that steroid use was rampant during the era of baseball after Jose Canseco?
Why don’t we dispatch another washed up senator with direct ties to baseball’s ownership to the North Pole to do an expose on the whereabouts of Santa Claus?
The Mitchell Report will irrefutably report that using steroids would allow you to:
A. Hit the ball further.
B. Make a helluva lot more money than you probably deserve.
C. Get chicks ("chicks dig the longball" remember?)
It will also name a few names and take three days worth of reading for you to realize baseball was as drug-adled as Pennsylvania Avenue.
At this point, it’s just a bunch of worthless finger-pointing and Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
The truth? We were ALL guilty for being a party to it and for believing in the "good" of baseball. I know I was absolutely brainwashed.
It’s funny that I remember SO many players and front office types and media members say the same thing during that time frame: "Steroids can’t help you hit the ball."
The owners knew all about the drug use and endorsed it by paying guys like Brady Anderson $35 million when they mysteriously went from hitting 4, 3 and 2 HRs in 1989, ’90 and ’91 to hitting 50 in 1996. (Nothing like these spikes in statistics had ever been seen in the 100-year history of the sport).
The front office leadership — from GM’s and assistants to scouts to managers and coaches — ALL knew what was going on, but knew it was rampant throughout the sport and it was necessary to compete once it was clear no one was going to be the whistle blower.
As a player (much like as a member of Vince McMahon’s army), if you didn’t use steroids, you wouldn’t be able to keep your job because someone at Triple A who was twice your size was about to take your job.
The physicians and trainers and strength coaches also knew enough about the human anatomy to know that Sammy Sosa’s forehead grew five inches and that couldn’t be considered "normal." Have you ever seen before and after pictures of Benito Santiago? Or Juan Gonzalez? Or Bret Boone? Or Barry Bonds? Or (insert favorite steroid-user candidate here…there are hundreds of them)?
The Players Association, who have been in almost comical and complete control of the game and the system since the first major strike in 1981, used drug testing as a civil liberties and privacy invasion "bargaining chip" in every negotiation.
The owners, meanwhile, had their hands full just trying to keep salaries down and keep the players on the field before and after every negotiation. Donald Fehr and Bud Selig went toe to toe on virtually every financial issue after the 1994 strike, and there was an almost 100% lack of trust on both sides after that financial war.
Any implication from the owners’ side regarding rampant drug use would have made the players look even more greedy than they already looked. They needed to heal the game, not point fingers at drug abusers who were their biggest drawing cards and meal tickets. They needed the players to be HEROES, not goats in order to sell tickets!
There was NO WAY Donald Fehr was EVER going to agree to random drug testing for baseball players circa 1995. Like I said, the MLBPA STILL runs the sport, but back then it was like Fehr was the commissioner.
And there is PLENTY of blame for people like me — reporters who were as close to the fire as anyone could be and charged with "getting the story" accurately – and we in the media dropped the ball miserably.
No one should feel like a bigger fool in the whole matter than me, considering how I saw David Segui and Brady Anderson and many, many others put on pounds and pounds of offseason "muscle weight" without as much as asking a question about steroids or the physical breakdowns that came later in many careers.
But again (in my own defense), when anyone DID ask about steroids or drug use in baseball, they were treated as a complete pariah.
Any media member asking anything specific would be scoffed at, then feigned insult and anger would be the next step, and unless you were camped out at the player’s door in Scottsdale when the Fed Ex with the drug loot arrived, how in the world would we ever know that David Segui was really using steroids unless we administered a piss test?
And if Peter Angelos couldn’t get players to pee in a bottle (and by the way, I’m not sure he ever asked or cared about drug testing), what luck would I have?
Most of the steroid era of baseball — even in the wake of the Mitchell Report — will forever come back to the "eyeball test." If they blew up like a beach ball and their head grew five inches and they looked like a WWF wrestler, they will FOREVER be labeled a steroid user.
Fair or unfair? Who knows?
But again, look at my own personal situation. I have spoken out loudly and critically of Peter Angelos and the Orioles and what a poor job they’ve done in being a civic partner for Baltimore and the community.
For that, they have banned me from covering the team and doing the job I’ve done to feed my family my entire adult life.
Do you HONESTLY think that "free speech" still exists when you are a media member?
What do you think would have happened to me in 1998 if I had evidence and had done an investigative piece on how many Orioles were juiced?
They would have called me a liar, attacked me, disputed any evidence I had and then excommunicated and blackballed me from covering the sport.
Kinda like they already have.
What else might the Orioles be hiding that they don’t want a true journalist like me to see?
I’ll never know.
They lied to me over and over again, and when I pointed it out, they simply locked the doors so I couldn’t ask any more tough questions.
That’s the way Major League Baseball works.
No surprise then, that instead of allowing an "outsider" to do this report, they picked one of their own boys in Mitchell.