DuPuy: Move beyond the names



Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball’s president and chief operating officer, appeared for nearly a half-hour today on MLB.com with host Pete McCarthy to further discuss Thursday’s release of the Mitchell Report and to answer questions posed by fans. Fans were asked to leave comments here for him as well as emailing our studios. DuPuy said he not to expect any revisionist changes to awards, statistical records or such historical matters that might be associated with players named in the report, and spoke about the importance of moving beyond the actual names. He expounded on the matter of acting on former Sen. George Mitchell’s recommendations, including a summit to discuss matters of performance-enhancing substance abuse that is not currently detectable in the drug testing provisions. Please keep your comments coming and also feel free to post links to blogs and other important URLs so that this remains a discussion center for the overall issue.

How long till Opening Day?

Bruce Markusen, respected baseball author, MLBlogger and former Hall of Fame historian in Cooperstown, just saved a thoughtful post and included the following:

"Then there’s the issue of the Hall of Fame. (Roger) Clemens, who would have
been a slam dunk first-year shoe-in, will now receive the Mark McGwire
treatment. If Clemens makes it at all, and that’s highly questionable
right now, he will have to wait quite awhile — perhaps until the Veterans
Committee. Ditto for Barry Bonds and to a lesser extent, Gary
Sheffield. Miguel Tejada, given his recent decline, had probably
already lost his way toward Cooperstown; his chances have been reduced
to near zero."

Here are some examples of what others are saying around the blogosphere. You can find other MLBlogs easily enough by clicking around here. Try these:

Huffington Post | The New Republic | Wonkette | Slate | MetsBlog |
The Smoking Gun | Things That Make You Go Hmmm | Above the Law
…and feel free to post other URLs as comments.

Probably no one mentioned in the Mitchell Report was hit harder than Clemens, who denied the allegations through his lawyer. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was singled out in nearly nine pages, 82 references by name. Much of the information on the Rocket came from former Yankees strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee.

"The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game," the report said. "Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records."

Clemens certainly is not alone in the long list of names. But what do you think this does to his legacy, and how do you feel about the degree of fairness in terms of his reported involvement and his attorney’s subsequent "vehement" denial? Is this a lawsuit waiting to happen, hinging on credibility of the accuser? Would you vote Clemens into the Hall of Fame no matter what, given his career before the reported steroid participation began? What did you think about this whole day, what it means to the game’s future, how it was handled, and the commissioner’s reaction?

Polling at ESPN.com showed that 77 percent of fans said they still would attend Major League games in 2008, and a larger percentage said they weren’t surprised by the number of names on the list. How do you feel about everything now that you’ve read the report? And have you really read the report? It’s a monster. And what do you think of the Milano Report?

Live: The Report

The news conference for former Sen. George Mitchell has concluded, so has the one for Commissioner Bud Selig, and now so has the one for Donald Fehr, executive director of the Players Association. We have posted the PDF of the Mitchell Report at MLB.com. Here is the download launch page, or just get the PDF file: Download mitchrpt.pdf

Mitchell is saying that the most important part is the conclusions in his report. Here, then, are the conclusions excerpted from that PDF:

There has been a great deal of speculation about this report. Much of it has focused on players’ names: how many and which ones. After considering that issue very carefully I concluded that it is appropriate and necessary to include them in this report. Otherwise I would not have done what I was asked to do: to try to find out what happened and to report what I learned accurately, fairly, and thoroughly.

While the interest in names is understandable, I hope the media and the public will keep that part of the report in context and will look beyond the individuals to the central conclusions and recommendations of this report. In closing, I want to emphasize them:

1. The use of steroids in Major League Baseball was widespread. The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective. For many years, citing concerns for the privacy rights of the players, the Players Association opposed mandatory random drug testing of its members for steroids and other substances. But in 2002, the effort gained momentum after the clubs and the Players Association agreed to and adopted a mandatory random drug testing program. The current program has been effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined. However, that does not mean that players have stopped using performance enhancing substances. Many players have shifted to human growth hormone, which is not detectable in any currently available urine test.

2. The minority of players who used such substances were wrong. They violated federal law and baseball policy, and they distorted the fairness of competition by trying to gain an unfair advantage over the majority of players who followed the law and the rules. They –- the players who follow the law and the rules –- are faced with the painful choice of either being placed at a competitive disadvantage or becoming illegal users themselves. No one should have to make that choice.

3. Obviously, the players who illegally used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades -– Commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players –- shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread.

4. Knowledge and understanding of the past are essential if the problem is to be dealt with effectively in the future. But being chained to the past is not helpful. Baseball does not need and cannot afford to engage in a never-ending search for the name of every player who ever used performance enhancing substances. The Commissioner was right to ask for this investigation and report. It would have been impossible to get closure on this issue without it, or something like it.

5. But it is now time to look to the future, to get on with the important and difficult task that lies ahead. Everyone involved in Major League Baseball should join in a well-planned, well-executed, and sustained effort to bring the era of steroids and human growth hormone to an end and to prevent its recurrence in some other form in the future. That is the only way this cloud will be removed from the game. The adoption of the recommendations set forth in this report will be a first step in that direction.

Reactions to “possible” list

WNBC in New York posted what it cited as a list of players expected to be on the Mitchell Report that will be announced at 2 p.m. ET. Major League Baseball officials already have refuted several names on the list. It’s one of the first examples of the slippery slope on this matter, with star athletes’ names now in a different public light. What is your reaction to seeing these names you follow so closely? Whatever you are seeing, feel free to post URLs here. It’s almost time for former Sen. George Mitchell to state the case. UPDATED 12:19 p.m.: WNBC has just deleted the entire list it had posted, and now that’s a two-paragraph article with no names. Deadspin.com posted what appears to be the same list, forwarded by "25" people, "for fun" — again containing inaccuracies according to MLB officials. Hundreds of commenters are nevertheless picking it apart. It is obvious that this becomes all about the names within nanoseconds of Mitchell’s forthcoming announcement. So far, however, journalistic responsibility is not a top priority on this day. How many players on this "for fun" list will be able to undo that listing on a day like this? We’ll see.

Zack Hample, the first fan MLBlogger (circa April 2005) and author of the book "Watching Baseball Smarter," just posted this on his The Baseball Collector blog: "History is about to unfold before us. This report will be talked about for generations. Millions of fans might be alienated, but in the long run the sport will survive. It’s a beautiful game. The people in it right now might not be, but baseball will cleanse itself."

A big moment in baseball

MLB.com’s Mitchell Report landing page

Amidst ongoing news of Miguel Tejada’s trade to Houston, Aaron Rowand’s signing with the Giants and the formal announcement of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year contract extension with the Yankees, the day that so many people have awaited with much anticipation — for better or worse, depending on how you look at it — is finally here.

Former Sen. George Mitchell has called a 2 p.m. ET news conference for today at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York to release the results of his committee’s 20-month investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

Commissioner Bud Selig will react to the report during a 4:30 p.m. news conference at the nearby Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and Players Association executive director Donald Fehr has scheduled a news conference for 6 p.m. MLB.com will carry all three events live, and the report itself will be posted at MLB.com shortly after it is released — for all the world to see.

The MLB Players Association has just announced that Donald Fehr, executive director of the MLBPA, will hold a news conference at The Madison One at approximately 6 p.m. That news conference will be streamed live on MLBPLAYERS.com.

"The hope, I think, for most people is that there will be some closure sometime soon and we move on," Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said on the eve of the announcement. "I would imagine there will be a lot of shock, a lot of surprise, but I think as a sport, as an industry we’re hopefully going to be held accountable for what’s happened, from players to coaches to front office to ownership."

How will everyone react? That is one of the reasons MLB.com created this MLBlog. It will attempt to capture snapshots throughout the day and night of reaction, in the blogosphere and mainstream media (a gradually blurring delineation indeed). You’ll find the link to the Mitchell Report here as well, as soon as we post it. Please feel free to use this blog as a place to post your own comments, and feel free to include links to URLs of your own blogs if you are commenting on the subject matter. We’ll update as often as possible and invite you to join the discussion…starting now.