Progress Report

(Photo from Boston.com)

That was a tense afternoon, no? There were some erroneous early reports that had me attempting to come to terms with my many, many years of baseball fandom and the wisdom of choosing a favorite player instead of just rooting for the laundry. There was a good hour there where I was functioning on auto pilot and was absolutely heartbroken. Which kind of made me feel like a 10-year-old kid and what a 10-year-old kid feels like when their teams loses an important game or when their favorite player strikes out in a big spot. When you’re 10-years-old, that’s the worst thing you can imagine. Except for maybe this.

Fortunately, (or not, depending on your ability to separate personalities from paychecks and championships from performance enhancers), most of us are now blessed with some age and wisdom. By that I mean that very few of the names on the Mitchell Report came as a surprise to me, and, I would venture, to most people.

The implications of this are many and far-reaching. Especially when it stands that the revelations could impact someone like Roger Clemens’ Hall of Fame chances. Clemens was the first baseball player to break my heart when he left town for Toronto when I was sixteen, and though I’ve always rooted against him in subsequent years (some people don’t agree with that but we do not forget our first heartbreaks), I have never argued that he is anything other than a great, great pitcher. I’ve long said he’s not the player you want on the mound with the season on the line but he is still the man with the records and the awards. So what happens now?

Contrary to what some people might think, I am not taking pleasure in the names of Yankees on the list or those of other players whom I’ve never liked (okay, I might have snorted a little bit at Gregg Zaun), but I know too many people who are fans of other teams and who are having a hard time with this. The Orioles have enough problems without this report. True, Miguel Tejada is no longer their problem and they’ve been trying to get rid of Jay Gibbons for years now but people in Baltimore LOVE Brian Roberts. This is no good for them. And this reminds me of what my father said when I was musing about how this wasn’t really going to change the way I felt about Mo Vaughn when I was twelve. “Kristen,” he said, “This isn’t about you.” But you know what? It kind of is. It’s about all of us. These guys do whatever they want to themselves, but what about the kids that grow up watching and loving them? That’s who this is really about.

Obviously, some of these names would seem to prove the arguments about steroids and HGH not making people into Supermen. For every Roger Clemens there is a Mike Lansing. For every Barry Bonds, there’s a Ron Villone. For every Jason Giambi, a Jeremy Giambi. But if nothing else, that also brings into sharp relief what a problem this kind of thing is. It’s not limited to the elite players and it’s not just the guys with giant heads we’ve come to suspect.

There is dark comedy to be found in this, of course, as that’s how we deal with these things. There’s the fact that Paul Lo Duca was bright enough to leave notes essentially saying “Thanks for the ‘roids. Love, Paulie” which Greta likened to the moments of comic relief in a Sopranos episode where the mobsters are committing a grisly crime with amusing ineptitude. Or the fact that Jose Canseco evidently tried to get into the press conference to…I don’t know, deny allegations? I think the jig is up with you, Jose.

So what do we do now? Bud Selig has promised to put Senator Mitchell’s suggestions into play but Selig’s reign as commissioner has been decidedly toothless so we’ll see how well that works. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Despite the cumbersome 409-page report, it seems that Senator Mitchell has left us with more questions than answers. This saga is far from over.

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