Friday, December 14, 2007

Media Coverage of the Mitchell Report

I did a quick read through the 400 page Mitchell report today and compared the document with some of the coverage that I have seen, read or heard in the last 24 hours. Here are my thoughts:

1. This is not a definitive report -- rather it is an outline, mostly based on existing information, organized like a decent term paper than many students could draft. It is wordy, long on background and short on specifics.

2. It confirms what most of us already knew. There is evidence to support the allegations of the use of performance-enhancing substances in Major League Baseball and that everyone involved -- the Commissioner, owners, players and their union in some way aided and abetted this practice.

3. Without the section detailing the information by Kirk Radomski, the report would be nothing more than a recap. The Radomski information, gleaned as part of a plea deal (an interesting development in itself), does put some teeth into the allegations. Copies of checks are included and certain players' activities are discussed in some detail.

4. Many of the players are retired and we cannot tell whether the revised drug test program has had some effect in curbing the use of such substances. If Roger Clemens retires, then the major star in this report will join that list and won't be playing.

5. The proposals for outside control of testing are reasonable, but seem superficial and need further development. It is true that this matter must involve a revision of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, but it would have been intriguing to read what Sen. Mitchell could create, if he (and his staff) had the chance.

6. The seemingly hysterical media coverage by some (including John Kruk of ESPN talking about "hearsay" when he evidently does not know what it is) may be entertaining, but not informative.

7. The lack of context was also apparent. This is not a criminal investigation and Sen. Mitchell had no subpoena power. It also covers activities that often date 10 years ago. It is an internal governance matter, with legal implications (as these substances are illegal without a prescription). I doubt that players will be charged criminally based on the lack of compelling evidence found here.

8. I was happy that my local television newscast led with the weather report.


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