Consequences on deck
Our long national nightmare isn't close to being over
Posted: Thursday December 13, 2007 11:39PM; Updated: Thursday December 13, 2007 11:39PM
At this point, now that George Mitchell has finished administering baseball's public and self-appointed flagellation, the easy thing for Bud Selig to do would be to head back to his office, lick his wounds and look forward to making more gobs of money next season. Discipline the drug cheats named in Mitchell's voluminous report? Drag out this thing more? What good would that do? Can't we all just move along already?
Except, in baseball, and especially in baseball's Steroids Era, nothing works like that. Nothing is that easy. As much as Selig might like to shove all those names that appeared in Mitchell's report aside and simply forget about it -- hey, wouldn't we all? -- he can't. And we can't allow him to do that.
So hold on. This long national nightmare in our national pastime is not even close to being over yet. Nobody's moving anywhere. Not until Selig, going against the advice of Mitchell, has his chance to come down hard on those cheats named in the report.
The way the commissioner sounded Thursday, he can't wait to get at 'em.
"Discipline of players and others identified in this report will be determined on a case-by-case basis," Selig told a room full of reporters in New York on Thursday afternoon, a couple of hours after Mitchell's 409-page document was made public. "If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly."
Suspending players and fining them is touchy stuff, of course. It always is. Anything that pits owners and management against players and their union is never going to go down easily. And when you throw in the fact that, in a lot of people's eyes, some of the "evidence" against the players named in Mitchell's report is hearsay, circumstantial or just plain insubstantial, things could get especially hairy.
Still, if this whole exercise is to mean anything, if all the tough talk about cracking down on performance-enhancing drugs in the game is going to be anything more than talk, Selig not only has to look at who needs punishing, he needs to punish. Union be damned.
The lesson here should be that those who cheat by breaking the law pay the price, not that they skate just because we want to get this whole thing over with.
Selig won't be able to suspend everyone in the report. A lot of the examples of drug abuse cited by Mitchell came before drug testing began, and therefore can't be punished. Mitchell likely won't be able to get to the big fish caught in his investigation, Roger Clemens, either. Selig holds no sway over retired players, and if this report doesn't send the Rocket into a permanent retirement -- he was probably heading that way, anyway -- nothing will.