I hope asterisks aren't any more expensive to print than regular numbers and letters--or I won't be able to afford the next edition of the Major League Baseball record book. The Mitchell Report is out and it implies that there was "widespread" abuse of steroids and human growth hormones in the sport from the mid-90's until the recent adoption of mandatory testing.
By using the term "widespread"--but then only putting 77 player names in his report, Mitchell is telling us "We know more people were cheating--these are the only ones somebody ratted out." I was hoping there would be no Brewers on the list--so that fans could claim their long run of futility is due to not enough guys trying to cheat. But alas, Fernando Vina (a former Brewer) and Derrick Turnbow are on the list. Just imagine how many save opportunities Turnbow would have blown if he wasn't on the juice. And the team is apparently going for the "all steriods All Star team"--as new closer Eric Gagne is also named in the report. Gagne's "punishment" for breaking the law and cheating...a one-year ten-million dollar contract from the Crew. That will teach everyone that cheaters never win.
The biggest losers in all of this are not the guys named in the report--or we the fans for being handed a sham and a mockery for nearly a decade--but rather all of those guys who might have made it to the Majors if some of the players in the Mitchell Report hadn't been 'roiding. I had a chance to help Terry Jorgensen with some of his off-season workouts when I lived in Green Bay. Terry is a native of Luxemburg and was a standout here at U-W-O. He used to work himself to near death with fielding drills and quickness drills and hitting off the tee and weightlifting. I'm pretty sure he wasn't shooting up in the locker room after those workouts. But despite all of that hard work, Terry had just a few "cups of coffee" with the Twins and the Marlins. Each time the team went out and got someone with a little better power and a little better arm. Were the guys who beat out Terry just more talented--or juiced?
The biggest winners in the wake of the Report: Not the players who cheated and weren't named--but rather all of the guys who played in the time before the mid-90's. How much better do all of their records look? My favorite player in high school and college was Will Clark--the firstbasemen for the San Francisco Giants. He was a career .300 hitter and finished with about 350-career home runs. Not Hall of Fame numbers compared to all of the brutes who came after him--but we know those were honest numbers. The same goes for guys like George Brett, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. All HOF'ers we know truly earned their spots in Cooperstown. Heck, even Pete Rose is looking more honorable today.
Major League Baseball had better hope nobody ever fingers Alex Rodriguez for steroids. He could be the "magic eraser" that will rid the record books of the steroid era--as he breaks all of the major records before hanging up the spikes. Until then--all of those numbers mean nothing to me.