Naughty or Nice? (cont.)
Posted: Monday December 10, 2007 3:04PM; Updated: Monday December 10, 2007 3:49PM
That's not to say that clubs won't pursue a player who faces a suspension. The Royals signed Jose Guillen to a three-year, $36 million deal last week knowing that he was looking at a possible sanction. He was named in reports alleging that he bought human growth hormone between 2002 and 2005, after the substance was banned by baseball.
Selig, in an early indication that he is willing to penalize players named in the Mitchell Report, last week suspended Guillen for the first 15 games of the 2008 season on the same day that his deal was finalized. Baltimore's Jay Gibbons also was suspended for 15 games.
"Teams are willing [to sign a player facing suspension]," an American League GM told SI.com last week. "But it depends on the need, the player and a guess on how much it might cost them."
Said a National League GM: "It's such an unknown. It's a problem. It's not an easy decision."
Suspending those named in the report is not as easy as it sounds, either. Though Selig may take that route, any suspensions almost certainly will be challenged by the players' union. Arbitrators will get involved. Lawsuits may be brought.
Still, there are those in and around the game -- including most fans and many players -- who believe that suspensions are in order for those who have used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. "I always thought it was [cheating]," free-agent outfielder Bobby Kielty told XM Radio last week. "I always felt like people should be punished for it, and I'm glad it's finally happening."
There is a possibility, of course, that the report won't be nearly as damning as some expect. Maybe the worst thing to come out of the Mitchell Report would be a perception that it is not all that it should be. Even Mitchell realized the importance of not pulling any punches.
"A thorough investigation and a credible report are necessary to regain the confidence of the fans, the press and the Congress on this issue," Mitchell said last year.
Mitchell's investigation has been, almost regardless of the end result, the most comprehensive step yet taken in trying to find out how widely spread the problem of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball was, and how prevalent it is today. The final report will amount to baseball's most important for-the-record acknowledgment that steroids played an important, damaging effect on the game for many years. It might even provide a blueprint for trying to rid the game of drugs in the future.
"We're all waiting for that day," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says, "and hopefully we're going to see it."
That day isn't coming any time soon. But if the Mitchell Report is all that it's cracked up to be, baseball is at least moving in that direction.
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