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Former Nat Bennett: "It's accurate"

Gary Bennett, the backup catcher on the Washington Nationals' inagural team in 2005, said in a phone interview this evening that he took human growth hormone while a member of the San Diego Padres in 2003. Bennett was one of 91 players named Thursday in a report on performance-enhancing drug issued by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell.

"As far as the report is concerned to me, it's accurate," Bennett said in a telephone interview.

The report said that while with the Rockies in 2003, he was battling a knee injury that kept him on the disabled list and affected his performance. A teammate, pitcher Denny Neagle, directed Bennett to Kirk Radomski, a clubhouse attendant with the New York Mets. The report contained a check for $3,200 from Bennett to Radomski that Radomski said was for two kits of HGH.

"Obviously, it was a stupid decision," Bennett said. "It was a mistake. It was something that quite obviously, you regret now. And beyond that, I just don't know."

Bennett said he wrestled with the decision then, and that he did not take HGH after the 2003 season.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 14, 2007; 7:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good for him. His honesty is refreshing.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Agree re. his honesty.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 14, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for contacting him, and I'm very relieved to hear his honesty. At least one player is talking!

Posted by: misschatter | December 14, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Refreshing honesty and sincerity. Good for him!

Posted by: Michael | December 14, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Cevans- Thanks for noticing, and the highly evocative writing that took me back to the Lyle Alzado Coach episode. "Not a one of us is righteous, no, not one."

"Coach's wife tells him not to be so hard on himself. "It's not like you knew at the time."
But he just stares at her. He knew at the time."

Posted by: flynnie | December 14, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this report, Barry. If even a small fraction of the players named in the Mitchell report are as frank as Bennett, a lot of distrust and cynicism will be vanquished.

The systemic problems will remain, but we fans have a reason not to throw our hands up in despair.

Posted by: Hendo | December 14, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Flynnie.

BTW, the line is "There is not one righteous, no, not one."

Posted by: Ce | December 14, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

And while I'm in Slotman mode:
hey evans, don't you people have editors? That was Bob Golic on Coach. Lyle Alzado died the year before that was filmed. "the Bigger They Come" season 5 ep 17, 1994.
Golic played a "Alzado-ish" character.

Posted by: cevans | December 14, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Way to man up, Gary.

"Please do not touch any balls in play."

Posted by: Svrlugamania | December 14, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Gary.

Hey Jim, we could use a backup.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 14, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Well. I am not impressed. Michael Vick admitted he killed dogs, and nobody's like, "Good for him and his honesty!" The guy cheated and he admitted to it. "Well, sure I shot her in the face, but it was mistake! I see the light now." No. That's bull. Whatever. It's great he copped to knowingly breaking the rules and all, but he should be done.

Posted by: Atlanta | December 14, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey Atlanta, you failed to yield yesterday and nearly caused an accident. Lock him up

Posted by: Chris | December 14, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

So where's the guy with the sign when you NEED him??

Posted by: John 8:7 | December 14, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Atlanta, that's not a very good comparison. Vick got into substantially more trouble than he would have otherwise, precisely because he DIDN'T initially admit what he had done.

I'm not going to pin a medal on Bennett, but he'll come out smelling like a rose in comparison to all the other clowns that will deny up and down that they did anything wrong.

Posted by: joebleux | December 14, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

I know the Vick thing was off-base and reactionary, I was just trying to make a point. Bennett's obviously not the worst human being ever, I just think all the congratulations are ridiculous. Maybe he should've wrestled a little harder with his conscience before he cheated. Regardless of internal argument or regret latter, he still cheated, and it's going to take a little longer (for me, at least) to move past that.

Posted by: Atlanta | December 15, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I agree he should never have done it. But he does stand out in a crowd as one of the few to admit his mistake. Since we can't shoot them all, we might as well be appreciative of the ones who man up.

I was so proud of Palmeiro when I thought he was clean, and really was so sad that he lied with so much cynicism and conviction. Bennett, Gibbons, Giambi, ... they all get a few points for not compounding the mistake with more deception.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 15, 2007 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Nats Interested In Prior, Jennings

The Nationals are looking in the bargain bin for a veteran starting pitcher. Two options they're considering are Mark Prior and Jason Jennings, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Nats first touched base with Jennings' agent around November 6th. Prior is a new name for them though.

Jennings has the Royals, Rangers, Rockies, and Mets on his trail as well. As for Prior, the Astros, Reds, Rangers, Phillies, and Padres may be the most interested clubs.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 15, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

"Well. I am not impressed. Michael Vick admitted he killed dogs, and nobody's like,
'Good for him and his honesty!'"

First of all, Vick didn't admit to killing dogs originally. He claimed he was the money behind the operation, but never took part in the murders. It was only after his buddies rolled that he changed his tune.

"The guy cheated and he admitted to it."

That's right. Maybe in and of itself, that's not a big deal, but compared to his peers reactions, I'd say it's a changeup at the very least.

"'Well, sure I shot her in the face, but it was mistake! I see the light now.' No. That's bull. Whatever. It's great he copped to knowingly breaking the rules and all, but he should be done.'"

No one is saying he should be immune to punishment.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2007 3:01 AM | Report abuse

It's weird how relieved Bennett's honesty made me.

C'mon. we all know the report's not BS. We also know there were many more users not named in the report. But his coming out and explaining it, admitting it was stupid, admitting this is very embarrassing, just takes some of the punch out of it.

Because, at least for me, the nasty taste in my mouth and the knot in my gut about this is from the generally across-the-board lying and covering up. It's just ugly how nobody has said a word.

So Bennett's honesty is that much more admirable, because he's going against all the other baseball clowns (perfect word joebleux) who don't have the cojones to do the same. Whoever said it is right. At this point in the game, Bennetts going to come out smelling like roses.

I just wish they all knew how much better they, and baseball, will look if they all did the same. Baseball fans are quick with the forgiveness. All they gotta do is ask for it.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 15, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Also....YAYYYYY!!! Opening day is SET.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 15, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else surprised at how many tried HGH once and gave up? I mean, if it was like baseball pixie dust and worked right away, it would be more popular. It seems like only those, like Clemens, with a trainer who was cycling it with the traditional "East German Women's Olympic Swimming Team" drugs stayed on HGH. And the results in Toronto were dramatic. That was enough to keep using. The trainer was with Clemens in Louisville getting him ready last hear. But with HGH as the only substance that was undetectable, and thus available, Clemens broke down.

Posted by: flynnie | December 15, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

"Opening day is SET."

Good news indeed to know that we are officially on Bristol's map. Wonder if Kornheiser and Wilbon will be in attendance?

Posted by: Hendo | December 15, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Gary. Though you didn't come forward until after the report came out, at least you did. Your explanation of 'why' makes sense to me. Perhaps under certain circumstances it should (HGH) be allowed in cases of injury recovery only.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | December 15, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Don't want to pile on too much Atlanta, I get what you're trying to say. Bennett still cheated. Like Vick, admitting to it doesn't mean he didn't do it.

My points of differentiation, though are:

1) Death and abuse is worse than HGH injection, so it should take more than an admission to forgive. Note, that's why Dmitri had to do more than say sorry. And, no, not hit .300.

2) Vick was charged by a federal prosecutor and maintained innocence until his friends had signed plea bargains. Bennett had his name show up in a private report with very limited criminal justice value (though there was evidence, so more than just hearsay, unlike in the Rocket's case), but still came out and said something. Note the other 70-some who haven't.

And you know, despite Lo Duca's cheating, I still am more concerned about Dukes on the team. They're both real crimes, but Dukes is one that directly harmed another person.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 15, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if anyone posted this, but Nats are in on Prior and Jennings.

http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2007/12/15/rumor-nationals-kicking-tires-on-prior-jennings/

Posted by: Eduardo | December 15, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The guys named in the Mitchell report - assuming accuracy - deserve the loss of reputation. But I almost feel sorry for them. They named 85 players based largely on the "squealing" of 3 guys - Radomski, Macnamee or whatever his name is, and Bigbie. All kinds of players - hitters, pitchers, stars, lots of marginal guys.
What if a REAL investigation was conducted? How many names? I would be 1,000 or more. This is a completely cynical dog and pony show staged by MLB. They refused to talk to Canseco, who wanted to sing to them. I don't think the Caminiti revelations are included, Lord knows what other sources that MLB didn't want to include were puposefully ignored. And the union, by advising the players to stonewall, helped keep things under wraps.

Why? - Now we all get to argue about a few guys, putting the heat on the players, who will be punished on "a case by case basis" by Mr. Clean Hands Bud. Thus distracting the breathless ESPNers and other such lazy reporters with short attention spans.

What really happened? Remember Watergate - "follow the money." The lure of salaries to be earned by the players is the least of it. After 1994 the game was down. Two things refurbished baseball's image and ability to earn advertising, media rights fees, and ticket dollars - Cal and McGwire/Sosa. What was the incentive for MLB to fight with the union over testing? To risk another strike, a black eye by talking about drugs, and reduced cash flow in order to kill the goose that was laying the golden home run eggs? Management decided to let it all slide and rake in the money, and through bargaining with the union shared it with the players. And it worked. Gross revenues rose from $2 billion to $6 during the steroid era. WE paid them all to cheat. Is it any wonder that they did? I am personally culpable - I bought tickets to see Barry Bonds in PNC at that time. I think I just compartmentalized my thinking - that I loved baseball so much, and he was an all-time great, I wanted to take my son so he could say he saw him. I just put the steroid suspicions aside at the time. I didn't intentionally set out to reward cheating, but I was seduced to turn away from the evidence by the hold baseball had on me.

So now what? The way the world works is that these 85 guys' reputations are done for. Some will play again, punishment will be token, (although I agree that LoDuca may be the biggest fall guy) and MLB will pretend they have taken meaningful action. But I feel that they were named only because their pushers were busted. Is a LoDuca a worse guy than some other catcher whose connection hasn't been busted? After all, the Dodgers liked him better juiced and traded him after he stopped using because he wasn't as good a hitter. What's a player to do when there are millions of dollars at stake and your employers want the production at any cost? I do not condone what the players did, only want to put them in the context of the times.

So - 1. No asterisks on records. Impossible to separate the role of PEDs in the entire era. Historically we just have to put it in perspective. Is Hack Wilson asterisked because he played in the lively ball era, another time in which ownership tinkered with the parameters of the game for more offense and more dollars?
2. Give these 85 a break. Know that they are taking the hit for hundreds of dirty players who will never be named. Don't be such a fool as to say "so-and-so didn't use so he's ok with me" because you don't know that.
3. Look for real change. Which I do not expect. I will take a Phillies fan to lunch if MLB tries to implement a state of the art testing system. What MLB wants is to keep the money rolling in, so they have to fix the PR by having a drug program, but the loopholes will allow players to keep it underground and discreet - no more Michelin man freakishness. While guys can still beat the system a bit to heal faster and have better strength and endurance.

I hope for real change but I am having to come to grips with the reality that the sport I love will probably be compromised forever by PEDs. On some level, that's the way it goes. If technology is available, it will be used for good and ill. Testing will never catch up with the chemists. But I hope they really try.

Posted by: Geezer | December 15, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

So back to the bigger picture: Who didn't see this coming?

We were told in '98, by Boz among others, that the McGwire-Sosa home run derby was necessary to save baseball. Many of us fans, after hearing of the bottle of Andro in McGwire's locker, had to have been uneasy about the direction of the game, and about the uncritical rejoicing that was being demanded of us by the baseball establishment.

Subsequent years' revelations about Bonds, Palmeiro, et al., could hardly have been surprising. And now, a decade after McGwire and Sosa, we have a report that tells us little we didn't expect, even as we hoped and prayed not to see our favorite players' names in it. (Nobody's prayer was answered.)

Am I the only fan to whom the Mitchell Report bears the farcical odor of anticlimax? How many millions of us are skeptical about what will be done, if anything, to heal the game, and when, if ever?

Mind you, I don't want to suggest that we should succumb to despair. Nor do I mean to imply, at the other extreme, the need for a witch hunt, or a purge, or even a bunch of asterisks in the stat books. (Everyone knows that a home run in 1987 was easier to achieve than in 1967, just as a homer in 1925 was an easier feat than in 1905.)

Baseball has never been squeaky clean. Racism, substance abuse, and troubling on-field and off-field behavior -- including various forms of cheating -- have tinged the game since its inception.

But acknowledging that the conduct of baseball will never reach perfection does not excuse the baseball establishment (and I include the fans here, we whose dollars finance the game) from addressing the PED issue and seeking resolution. And to that end, I think fans need to hear, and to inform, the answers to a couple of questions.

First, will the baseball establishment demand that the Mitchell Report become a catalyst for integrity -- specifically, for transparency regarding the use of PEDs and testing for them, so that the pressure can be eased on kids and "ordinary" players to turn to a pill bottle or syringe in pursuit of athletic excellence?

Second: Most of this problem unfolded under the watch of Selig and Fehr. Are they going to get a free pass? (Aside: Am I self-righteously vengeful for not wanting them to?)

Baseball will only effect substantive change if the paying customers demand it. The core question that troubles me is whether we are weary enough of the whole business to be content -- after some interval of hand-wringing -- to just sweep it under the rug in the name of "closure."

If so, it seems to me that, beat our breasts as we may, we will have deserved what we get.

Posted by: Hendo | December 15, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

i don't think fehr and selig should, or will, get a free pass. partially because those to have presided over other black marks on the game (see: canceled world series, among others). while they should get some credit for it, the fact that the game has seen a record revenue stream shouldn't fall all on their heads, since some of it is the change in the economy. in the end, tho, i have plenty of reasons to dislike fehr and selig, the PED scandal is just a small part.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 15, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want to see Selig and Fehr get a free pass, but I also wouldn't want to see them be sacrificial goats (As in, "Okay, they're gone now. Problem solved."). Not that I don't think that they should be held accountable, but I think there's also plenty of blame to go around for owners, front office people, players, trainers, doctors who prescribed the stuff, dealers, and so on. Seems to me that the problem is institutional and that more sweeping reforms are in order.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 15, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Appreciate it, 506! Though it's cool. Pile on all you want, tis the season for fiesty blog bickering.

P.S. Andy Pettitte copped to using HGH. Do we all thank him for his honesty now? Or do only mediocre players get thanked?

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Posted by: Atlanta | December 15, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea what that means, but I like it.
**********
I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Posted by: Atlanta | December 15, 2007 06:28 PM

Posted by: CE | December 15, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

EFF the cheaters. They should be banned for life. Gary Bennett admited? Good for him. Ban him for life. Paul Cassanova never had HGH to help him heal. Neither did Jim French. Pettite admitted to 2 days of HGH use? Good for him. Thank you for your honesty. Now, Ban him for life. Whitey Ford never had HGH. Baseball needs to make this so painful for the users that this will never again take place in baseball. That includes clubhouse Greenies, Bennies, uppers, downers, and Novacain. If you can't pitch or hit, there's a kid in Grand Rapids that can. Selig and Fehr have to go too. To continue this special government anti-trust exemption deal, MLB should be subjected to a Congressionally appointed
commissioner.

Posted by: 6th and D | December 15, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

6 and D,

One thing you should remember: Whitey Ford did not use steroids, but he did use DMSO according to Ball Four. That's s pain killer legal only for horses. It's very dangerous. It helped him get through his elbow soreness and pitch more often.

Does that change your mind?

Posted by: #4 | December 15, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"Baseball needs to make this so painful for the users that this will never again take place in baseball. That includes clubhouse Greenies, Bennies, uppers, downers, and Novacain."

Doesn't that cover a large proportion, if not the majority, of players from the mid-sixties onward?

And why stop there? Why not go back and expunge the records of racists from Ty Cobb on down?

It's important to damn misconduct. It's also important to evaluate individual players' misdeeds within the context of the various structural problems that have ever plagued baseball. The difficulty of such evaluation is a big part of what perpetuates such problems.

In that respect, it seems right to assert what Mitchell and others are being mocked for saying: that damage assessment is vital (and arguably has hardly begun), but when the damage has been assessed fully, in the end it will be more important to look forward than backward.

Posted by: Hendo | December 15, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

With Pettite admitting guilt, that blows a hole in Clemens denials, particularly since it was Clemen's trainer who hooked Pettite up.

Posted by: Catocony | December 15, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I think our goal is to eliminate PEDs from baseball - steroids, HGH, greenies, and anything else they think of in the future. I suppose there is some percentage of people who simply don't care. They enjoy the HRs and the high level of play and aren't interested in how it happens. I think that's a small percentage though. So... let's look at the situation

1. The Mitchell report has outed 80 of the 1000s of players who have used PEDs in the last 40 years.

2. There is no way to develop a testing regimen that will catch all future transgressors. Chemistry will always stay ahead of the test developers.

3. Being a pro athlete is an inherently selfish endeavor. People enter the occupation because they fed off the adulation of the fans and like the rewards - money, fame, women - that go with it.

4. In most facets of life legislating morality is tricky indeed. Generally, harsh penalties drive behavior underground and cause recriminations and resentment.

Given all this, I would propose that getting as many names as possible out into the public is important. New drug testing procedures and enforcement are important, but only because it will show that MLB will not tolerate the behavior any more. The only real solution is to create a culture in which the players are so embarrassed that there is a voluntary cleaning up of the game by the players themselves. Self policing is the only answer. Clean players must shun dirty players because there is really no way for management to control it themselves.

Posted by: #4 | December 15, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of self-policing in theory, but I wonder how that would reconcile with the code of silence is discussed in Mitchell's report. Will players who have admitted to use, like Bennett, be clubhouse pariahs, or will that not be the case because it was done after the report came out and they spoke only about their own behavior? I'd be interested in any insights that former players or others could offer on that.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 15, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I know that a lot of people don't want to hear this, but...Trust the good lawyers. DLP Piper and George Mitchell did a great job, given what they were able to work with and the strictures put on them. Let's see what would have happened if they had had subpoena power.

I think that what we will see a number of mea culpas coming along as players, who still have careers (i.e. Pettite, Lo Duca, etc. try and put all of this behind them).

I also think that we should remember what the office of commissioner is. It is simply to do the best for baseball, as envisioned by the team owners. The only truly independent commissioner that baseball has ever had was Bart Giamatti and the owners probably were looking to dump him at the end of his contract. Faye Vincent was a joke, who only got the job because he was looked on as Giamatti's "boy". He had no power and was dumped asap. He has been wrong about everything concerning baseball, ever since (remember that he was one of the last "experts" to say that DC would never get a franchise).

We might also look at that icon of commissionership, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. One after another of his decisions show outright racism and a total lack of appreciation for the constitution. If he made some of those decisions today, some of the players affected would own the teams that they played for, because the results of the ensuing lawsuits would be overwhelmingly against him and the teams.

And folks, that may be much of what is behind some of the recommendations of the Mitchell committee. If Selig banned or seriously suspended some of the players named in the report without evidence which, while overwhelming, might not hold up in court or might not be considered admissible there could well be law suits that would bankrupt some teams.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 15, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

"3. Being a pro athlete is an inherently selfish endeavor. People enter the occupation because they fed off the adulation of the fans and like the rewards - money, fame, women - that go with it."

Good points, #4, but I disagree with your 3rd point listed above. Yes, big league money, fame, and women do look attractive to those on the outside. But I'd posit that the majority of players have loved the game since they were boys. My baseball career fell short of the big leagues. But my job was to play baseball - a game I love. And I wanted to play it for as long and at as high a level as my NATURAL ability would let me. Who wants to get a job in the real world if you can play baseball for a living? The money, fame, etc. Yes, they are a factor. But from the start, I do not think they are the driving force behind entering the occupation.

Posted by: dr joe | December 16, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

In such a competitive environment, in which jobs and big money are at stake, credible testing with harsh penalties are required to provide the foundation for a culture change. Agree that chemistry will always be ahead, but an independent comprehensive program would be a good start. If a blood test is required, then draw blood. Why the huge distinction between urine and blood testing?

To see how pervasive all this is, look at the "Ads by Google" below this blog on the WaPo website. "HGH leader for 10 years. Try ProBLEN Risk Free, Order Today!"

Hendo, in one of your thoughtful posts above you say that the paying customers must demand change. What should we do? Would you have us boycott games?

Posted by: Geezer | December 16, 2007 6:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a medical professional, but I would think that drawing blood would be more complicated than having somebody pee in a cup. You'd need to have a phlebotomist and the associated equipment available, there would be potential for adverse effects, there could be concerns about needle sticks and bloodborne pathogens, and so on.

---

If a blood test is required, then draw blood. Why the huge distinction between urine and blood testing?

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 16, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"What should we do? Would you have us boycott games?"

I think that baseball has the 2008 season to decide whether it cares to clean itself up. What each of us does after that will depend on the degree to which each of us feels something meaningful has been done (assuming we felt it needed to be done).

So it's a personal issue. In my own case, as I've mentioned before, I didn't cross an MLB threshold from 1995 through 2004. For the issues of the game to cause the interruption of the '94 season in the middle, and the cancellation of the World Series, seemed utterly mindless of the fan. The hopped-up home run derby of '98, and Peter Angelos' machinations, just reinforced my disgust.

The relocation of the Nats, tragic as it was and is for baseball fans in Montreal, at least seemed to indicate that MLB was willing not to let Angelos impose his dysfunctional vision on two markets. And although I've never quite got over the strike, after a while I made a mental Faustian bargain: for Selig or Fehr to resign or for D.C. to get a team would bring me back.

So back I came in '05, and I'm enjoying baseball again and want to see it succeed in this town. But I also want to see the Lerners and other owners (among whom I include Selig as their dependent, if no longer strictly among their number) -- as well as Fehr or his successor -- step up and admit that change is needed and that they will undertake it.

If nothing has been done by the time the '09 ST invoice rolls around, I'll have to think long and hard about why I should whip out the checkbook.

Posted by: Hendo | December 16, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Check out this bit of reporting......Makes the WPost reporting and allocation of space look kind of weak, No?
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20071215/SPORTS02/112150065/1026

Now if Times would just update the Blog functions we could really have an open competition for where Nats fans to get their information and opinions. Looks like the Times is seeing the while the Wpost is still stuck in 2006 coverage mode.

What nobody is reporting yet is where is Dukes now and what is the secret plan? I sure hope he is out of Tampa and working out with Young at Rio's farm. Young could use to drop 30 lbs too.

Posted by: JayB | December 16, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Hendo. I'm not a STH but I do buy multiple tix for 10-15 games per year as well buying assorted merchandise. As a female fan, the issue of where MLB stands (or doesn't) on domestic violence would be another factor.

---

If nothing has been done by the time the '09 ST invoice rolls around, I'll have to think long and hard about why I should whip out the checkbook.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 16, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"As a female fan, the issue of where MLB stands (or doesn't) on domestic violence would be another factor."

Not just to females, either.

And here's another one: MLB and Lerners, what are you doing to refresh youth baseball facilities and expand programs in the District? Considering what D.C. has done for you, the investment will be far less than the cost in lost P.R. if the media were to get the notion that your efforts have been cosmetic at most.

Not to mention that I'm fairly sure Fenty, Rhee, et al. would be willing to give a listen to a well-thought and well-financed program. (P.R. works both ways.)

Posted by: Hendo | December 16, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

nice blog about the failings of the mitchell report by buster olney, one i agree with wholeheartedly.

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 16, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 231. I'm not always on the same page with Olney, but full marks to him here; he takes the trouble not only to document the shortcomings of the report, but also those of himself and other reporters.

Another worthy critique by Olney appeared in the NYT in early 2006:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/01/opinion/01olney.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

A quote from that speaks to a perpetual gripe of mine: "Selig himself was quoted in [a 1995 L.A. Times] article, saying, 'If baseball has a problem, I must say candidly that we are not aware of it.'"

That was the man in charge speaking, folks. I dunno about you, but I'm not inclined to pin a medal on Selig either for disingenuity or for candor -- in 1995 or today or any time in between.

Posted by: Hendo | December 16, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Check out the newest Nats blog, Attack of the Nats. The site is www.attackofthenats.blogspot.com. We have updated information, opinions, and news all about the Nats.

Posted by: Attack of the Nats | December 16, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

With due respect to Buster Olney, he ought to recognize that what Larry Bigbie said about Brian Roberts would be admissible in any court as a declaration against interest (an exception to the hearsay rule). When Roberts admitted to Bigbie that he took PEDs, that is no different than when Banker X admits to his golf partner that he paid a bribe. As to the strength of the evidence, you assess Bigbie's credibility by looking at the body of his testimony. Not every wrongful act is going to be documented by checks, etc... The critics of Mitchell need something better than this charge.

Posted by: jon | December 16, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Amen, brother.
*******
"As a female fan, the issue of where MLB stands (or doesn't) on domestic violence would be another factor."
Posted by: natsfan1a | December 16, 2007 10:17 AM
___
Not just to females, either.
....
Posted by: Hendo | December 16, 2007 10:35 AM

Posted by: Cevans | December 16, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

with all due respect to you, jon, uncorroborated statements that roberts said he committed an act to a second party, while admissible as evidence, is really not enough to convict. it's "he said/she said" evidence, at best. with respect to your banker example, he would not be convicted purely on that statement. there would have to be other corroborating evidence.

and it's not just the rest of the body of bigbie's evidence that would be used to judge the validity of his statements. we have no idea what bigbie's relationship with roberts was. was it the kind of relationship you would expect to convey very private information? was it a contentious relationship? were they friends? did they dislike each other? would bigbie have any agenda? i don't know the answer to any of those, maybe you do.

i'm not necessarily defending roberts, i have no idea about his guilt/innocence. but i do think 2nd party hearsay is kind of weak to use in a way to destroy someone's reputation. particularly when, in pretty much all of the other cases, he had corroborating evidence.

plus there's the whole "guy whose name was removed from the report because he conviced mitchell that, while he did order the PEDs, he didn't use them and disposed of them" issue. more actual evidence that he purchased them than roberts, who there's no direct evidence he purchased or used.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 16, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of random reactions to stuff people have said:

Dr. Joe:

You wrote in reaction to my assertion that being a pro athlete is an inherently selfish endeavor,

"Yes, big league money, fame, and women do look attractive to those on the outside. But I'd posit that the majority of players have loved the game since they were boys."

I'd respond by saying that I'm sure some of these guys love the game, but what does that have to do with selfishness. A pro athlete's entire existence is based around one thing: his/her performance. He or she is forced to subjugate the needs of everyone around him/her for that purpose. There is not one thing a pro athlete does that is "other centered". Sure, there are a few athletes who are otherwise philanthropic, but the point I'm trying to make in the context of the steroid issue is that to be a successful pro athlete, you need to be very egotistic and self-centered. I'd also add that if these guys really "loved the game", they wouldn't sully it by cheating.

Hendo:

You take the Lerners to task on the issue of refreshing youth baseball facilities. I would say it takes two to tango, brother. DC Rec is one of the most dysfunctional departments in a government of dysfunction. My sense is that the Lerners heart is in the right place, but they need to make sure their money isn't thrown into the same sinkhole that received DC residents' property tax money.

Lastly, I thought Buster Olney's article was a suck up to the players. He is not pushing the ball down the field one bit by taking the owners and Bud Selig to task. Sure, he gave a token " I'm not excusing the players" line, but basically he rolled management under the bus and then called into question much of the evidence in the Mitchell report. All that does is give cover to the players who made the decision to juice. Taking steroids needs to become as bad as staring at a HR too long. Hitters who are suspected need to be thrown at. His one point I agree with is that guys like Tom Glavine need to step up and make it clear that players should just not find it acceptable.

Grumpily yours,

Posted by: #4 | December 16, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

#4
Ok, so I chose the wrong example. Let's say Walter Johnson. I was speaking for the sake of argument. I doubt that Ford Frick knew about Whitey Ford's pain killing experiments, or he would have stepped in (just as with the *).

Posted by: 6th and D | December 16, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

i completely disagree that "olney's article was a suck up to the players."

his article/blog post was written to make the point that the owners/management/union has responsibility, too. just because he didn't give equal time to blaming the players in the article doesn't mean that he's "sucking up to them" or that he doesn't think they share the blame (or even the majority of the blame). or at least i sure didn't take it that way.

maybe your response bothered me a little because i've seen a lot of responses like that in a number of discussions recently, like any time i say something bad about hillary clinton on one message board, i have clinton fans telling me that i didn't criticize obama. and i don't understand why i have to address other candidates when i make a point about another one.

i think the same is true here. if you're writing an article saying "owners/mgmt/union deserves blame, too," i don't think you have to give equal time to the players' responsibility. that's not what the article was about.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 16, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

6th and D:

I'll give you Walter Johnson. He was clean. Christy Matthewson too. The problem is that you may need to go that far back to find guys you're pretty sure about.

I will say though that I have a hard time believing that Ford Frick didn't know that Whitey and the Mick were getting hammered every night, popping greenies before games and using illegal pain killers. They weren't the only ones.

Posted by: #4 | December 16, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Point taken, 231. I understand what you're saying. I guess the larger issue is that I don't want any of this to focus on who is more to blame. I think when that happens, people focus on recriminations rather than saying that this is a disgusting chapter in baseball history. Everyone needs to be ashamed, move forward, and vow never to allow this scourge to creep in again.

Posted by: #4 | December 16, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

fair enough. i don't want it to be about who is "more" to blame, either. i think there's plenty of blame to go around, altho, in the end, the players who used are most responsible.

i agree that punishment is not really going to solve the issue. figuring out how to deal with it going forward is the real issue.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 16, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

#4, you're right again. In fact, the Lerner's & MLB have made some inroads into the DC Rec dept. In fact, there are some significant increases in baseball growing among DC youth. Most of these, BTW, were building before the Nats got to town. That is just an item that sort of took stuff the next step. Once team got to town, MLB through the RBI program brought in a coach to work with youth teams.

By the way, the infield dirt from RFK now sits as the infield dirt on a DC high school field.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 16, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

An article in an old "High Times" magazine penned by Joe Pepitone, claimed that 1 time and one time only did the Mick partake of some of the Columbian Gold which Joe had been smoking at the time.
Joe claimed that this was particularly power pot and he had to pull himself from the game around the 5th inning, even though he was a seasoned smoker, as he was having trouble with the throws to first coming at him.
He further claimed that Micky, although famous for his temper after strike-outs, instead calmly laid the bat down and strolled back to the dugout. Later he either drove in or scored the winning run in extra innings, whereupon he approached Pepitone and said "Don't you EVER give me any of that stuff again".
Later in life of course Micky needed a liver.
Babe Ruth would routinely polish off as many as a dozen beer before a game while surrounded by the press, and this was in the height of prohibition!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 16, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

i'm less concerned about the reputations of individual players. i think it's important that the range and variety of athlete were represented here. brian roberts is a great example of someone we wouldn't stereotypically assume. nook logan is another.

for awhile it was just for homerun hitters. then it occurred to us that it would be mostly pitchers. but to see fringe players, hall of famers, nice guys, bad guys, international, college, high schoolers, black 7 time mvps, white 7 time cy youngers, means to me that this report is relevant for the simple fact that it smashes any sort of simplicification or characterization of what "type" of person would do this.

owners, players, media, and fans all knew what was going on. it's just baseball but it reflects our society more than any other pasttime. that's why i'm mostly glad that baseball continues to be the only sport that can look itself in the mirror and try to be honest with itself.

baseball is competing with other sports like football and hockey, and whatever, so i blame them all for this just as much. every player and owner of all these sports, professional or not, are contributing to this problem.

this may be comletely off but i almost hope that this makes "records" less important to us and the game. that could be the best thing to come out of this. we should stop trying to find a formula to compare and learn to enjoy the game in its purest form. stop making this so easy on the media to write a headline.

but of course you know the season starts with paul lo duca catching the first pitch in the new stadium in DC. wonderful. i wonder what they are going to talk about...

Posted by: longterm | December 16, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

i should say that i haven't even linked to the mitchell report. i really have no idea what it says...

Posted by: longterm | December 16, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't know; Bowie Kuhn seemed pretty surprised to hear about players kissing on the Seattle Pilots' team bus in Ball Four.
; )
***********
I will say though that I have a hard time believing that Ford Frick didn't know that Whitey and the Mick were getting hammered every night, popping greenies before games and using illegal pain killers. They weren't the only ones.

Posted by: #4 | December 16, 2007 08:03 PM

Posted by: ce | December 16, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, if anybody hasn't read the report because of the length, don't be too put off by that. It's double-spaced with a good deal of white space, and the appendices with scans of cancelled checks and other evidence take up about one-fourth of it. It's a pretty fast read.

---

i should say that i haven't even linked to the mitchell report. i really have no idea what it says...

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 17, 2007 7:10 AM | Report abuse

p.s. But it could use an index. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 17, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

And the appendices consist of additional info besides the checks and so forth.

I'm going to have some coffee now...

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 17, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Buster Olney and Peter Gammons (and Tim K.) have been player apologists in the steroids scandal. My analysis is that they are too close to the people they cover.

Posted by: swanni | December 17, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

By defending the players, Olney and many other baseball beat writers are making sure that the players will continue to talk to them for future stories.

Posted by: swanni | December 17, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

mostly this is front office and ownerships fault. i blame the players, but less. they made choices but it was allowed to get to the point where if they didn't make this decision one someone else would have. that's why it has to stop. there will always be someone in line ready to jump. especially when you have guaranteed contracts and international signings.

these guys created this culture by handpicking everyone who owns a team, plays for a team, is the commissioner...it's a cesspool. they knew what was going on when everyone was talking about a "juiced ball" (!!!). nope, the ball is the same, we heard. that's not a lie to a car salesman.

but looking back you can see how all the best athletes were not playing baseball. they were going to football and basketball and even hockey was doing fine. i'm not saying they told people to juice. but when a lot of players start throwing 98 mph and cranking homeruns and stars can lengthen careers and media coverage improves...well i'm not surprised they looked the other way. get the game on sounder footing and address it later.

the union heads appeared more concerned with money or "personal rights" than much of anything else. ugh. what a mess.

Posted by: longterm | December 17, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

swanni, have you ever had anything positive to say? not trying to sound as contentious as that comes across, but it really does seem like i haven't heard you say anything positive about anything.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

swanni says positive stuff. When we signed Lo Duca he wrote a really positive post.

For the record, I do not even approach swanni's momsmanship. I just like that he asks the questions that I would never think about. The Eternally Optimistic Nats Fan. That could be my new moniker...

Btw, I know that the steroid scandal is huge and ugly and terrible, but let's talk about the Nats, I think they're way more interesting.

So I posit: Jason Jennings (henceforth JJ)/Mark Prior OR a legit 2nd basemen (obviously acquired through trade).

Which one do you take?

Posted by: NattyDelite! | December 17, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

231...

I generally disagree with Swanni about things that come across this and other blogspots, but he is right on about this. Both of these writers have been suck-ups forever. Gammons is an unabashed Saux fan.

It seems to me that these guys are throw-backs to the "journalism" of the 1920s, when the reporters traveled with, played poker, drank with, etc. the players. They were almost part of the team, and that is where their loyalties lay, not with honest reporting.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 17, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

NattyD:

I'd take the 2B. Long term the weakest area of the organization is up the middle - particularly in the infield. With the draft last year, they shored up their starting pitching depth, but what they still don't have is any middle infield prospects. They need a quick fix there more than anywhere.

Posted by: #4 | December 17, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

to be fair, neither of them is a "reporter." they're columnists who write opinion pieces.

maybe i'm a bit harsh on swanni, but he does come across as the glass half empty guy.

not going to call myself an apologist for either. i enjoy their writing, but i don't agree with them all of the time. and i do think gammons has gotten much softer critically in the past 4-5 years.

i don't think gammons is as bad as some make him out on the sox. especially if you ever read peter king, that guy is the worst "homer" on a national stage there is.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Swanni is not a glass-half-empty sort of guy, he's a "the glass probably was never full in the first place" sort of guy. Which is exactly what we need around here, lest we become too starry-eyed. In the same way, we need JayB and 419 to bring down the hammer on the Post coverage to keep us from prostrating ourselves to the WaPo.

In a similarly contrary vein, in the Church of Baseball, I am a heretic. Why? Because if I were in charge of Cooperstown, every player would have an asterisk next to his name. Down at the bottom of the sheet, in small type, it would say "Who the [RF] cares?"

That's right, I think records and the hall of fame are dumb. What's the point really? As has been pointed out here, so many players in every era have pushed or ignored the limits of the rules to get their numbers.

But why? What does having the most home runs mean to Barry Bonds? Even if he had done it clean? As a fan, why would I care? There's only one home run count that matters to me right now, projected home runs during the 2008 season. Even if all players in the Hall of Fame were clean, the different eras of baseball make comparing their achievements moot.

Furthermore, the most famous players to me are ones that matter to me. Cal Ripkin, Jr., because when I was a kid me and my dad went to Memorial Stadium and watched him play and when I was too young to care about statistics, I still knew that no matter the game I could always count on the announcer saying, Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal Ripkin! Pedro Astacio, because he's the only pitcher I've ever seen pitch a full game. Frank Robinson as a manager, because he said such ridiculous things in the press conference that always had me in stitches. Alfonso Soriano, because I loved watching him step into the batter's box and crouch like a puma waiting to pounce.

I couldn't give a lick for Albert Pujols or Tony Gwynn, Jr. or Roger Clemens. I don't care if some arbitrary group of sportswriters selects all three of them or (retroactively) rejects all three of them to be in some stuffy old monument to the judgment of arbitrary sportswriters and meaningless compilations of individual feats that matter.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 17, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

506:

I love it.

I have had the pleasure of doing some work in the Dominican Republic which has put me into contact with Dominican coaches and players at the lowest level. As an American baseball enthusiast, it was refreshing to see their passion for and approach to the game. The overarching point that I have been left with is that Americans tend to look at baseball as a physics class while Dominicans tend to look at it as an art class. I'm obviously making broad generalizations here, but indulge me for a minute. Americans emphasize the mechanics of baseball - the techniques, the strategy, the statistics, while Dominicans see it as art form - self expression, emotion and beauty. Like most things it's probably best when we look at baseball as a mix of both, but I gained a lot for my appreciation of the sport by looking at it through the eyes of a different cultural perspective.

Posted by: #4 | December 17, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

231: I had a longer reply written, but I'll mostly agree with you that it might be tough to "convict" Roberts if all you had was a Bigbie statement and nothing more. Mitchell plainly was not applying a no reasonable doubt standard of proof before he included a name.

By the way, Bigbie and Roberts apparently were pretty good friends. Roberts was at Bigbie's wedding this year. About 2/3 of the way down in Roch Kubatko's article on the O's in the report is a discussion of Roberts and Bigbie:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.orioles14dec14,0,6502107.story

Posted by: jon | December 17, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

re: HOF - 506 is right on the money that fans care more about what they personally remember, than about standing all-time.

Who cares who had the best WHIP ratio pitching lefthanded on Tuesdays east of the Mississippi in night games below 50 degrees at gametime? Sound arbitrary? So is Most Home Runs, Career--emphasized all out of proportion to reality.

But the beauty of baseball is that all the "Most XYZ" doesn't actually settle anything for fans, because they don't correspond to the things that matter. Who's the best hitter ever? That depends. (Well, ok, not really -- everybody knows it's Willie Mays.) No such stat. Scariest pitcher? (Bob Gibson--but if I'd been 10 in 1925 instead of 1965, maybe I'd say Walter Johnson; or 1995, maybe Randy Johnson.) Best Clutch Hitter? Is there even such a thing as clutch? Discuss. For the next hundred years. You'll never finish.
And we can do that because baseball has a collective memory. The HOF is just a manifestation of that, it isn't the thing itself.

Posted by: CE | December 17, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: faNATic | December 17, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I didn't expect support on this one, thanks gang. #4, I like the sound of your Dominican observations. To me, the best moments of 2007 were things like Ryan Zimmerman snagging a hard grounder and zinging it over (on target) to Dmitri. Or the Belliard double-play flip. Those moments that feel like ballet, not like statistics (despite my love of them).

CE, I would add to your "And we can do that because baseball has a collective memory. The HOF is just a manifestation of that, it isn't the thing itself." that it's a manifestation of the collective memory of sportswriters.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 17, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

i agree. i'm tired of statistics most announcers bandy such as showing this is the 4th longest 9 inning game in the last 3 years. so what. i wish clocks weren't built into stadiums. seriously, everyone has a watch or a cell phone or a something that has the time. a baseball park seems to be the one place where time is not supposed to matter. obviously this is not in the broadcasts best interest but anyway i got off on bit of a tangent.

random records and stat keeping has become too much of the focus in baseball. seems like that's why people think the PED is a problem. "how do we compare the greatest now" wah wah. that's not at all what this is about, to me.

i love my fantasy baseball too but i love the game more. i don't need an asterisk to know that every player and every play has a story behind it. and that's what i want the real game to be about.

i'm ready for baseball games to start. i feel better about our team every day.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 17, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Re. the stats vs. art approach, I recommend the documentaries Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey and The Bases Are Loaded, both of which give a taste of the Cuban perspective on baseball (for fans as well as players).

I agree with the sentiments in support of Swanni's voice.

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 17, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

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