Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Thoughts On The Mitchell Report and the Hall of Fame

So I have had a few days to think about the implications of the Mitchell Report.

A few things have to be accepted if you accept that Mitchell is correct. First, banned substance usage in Major League Baseball was widespread. Some of the best players, and some of the not so great, of the 1990s and early 2000s are implicated in the report. If anything, I would not be surprised to learn that more players were involved for the simple reason that the Major League Baseball Players Association was telling the players not to participate in the investigation.

Second, this was not something where there were a few "bad apples" who were participating in it. The management of the teams, as well as Major League Baseball, were turning a deliberate blind eye to what was happening. As long as McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds were hitting the balls out of the park, no one wanted to look too closely at how they were able to do it. The same with Roger Clemens and Andy Petite racking up World Series victories and Cy Young Awards while pitching for the Yankees.

So with all that out there, lots of people are mumbling about not letting many of these people into the Hall of Fame, about tagging records with asterisks, and possibly other things. To me, this seems wrong. Because it seems that their usage was so prevalent that the argument that there was an imbalance in the playing field seems to fail because it appears that to get on the field you had to be doped up in the first place.

This is what I think should be done: let the records stand, let those who offended go in to the Hall of Fame on the merits of their career (even with the use of performance enhancing drugs) but include on their plaque their offenses (or alleged ones).

The new regime in baseball should mandate random tests and an actual penalty for first time offenders (as opposed to a warning) and much more severe penalty (say a 60 game suspension), with a third offense getting a year and a half suspension and the team is allowed to void the contract. Now, if the team allows it to continue, say by hiring now peddlers of the illicit substances, they too should be penalized. A first time offense costs the team a first round draft pick. A second reduces the amount that it takes in as part of revenue sharing (or has to contribute more).

Of course, that would require the Commissioner of Baseball to be an actual commissioner for baseball as opposed to a member of the owners. Almost makes me wish for Judge Landis to come back from the dead.

Although if he did, he would not be nearly as lenient as anything I have heard.

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