Editorial: When it counted, no one stood up for baseball
One of the many lessons to come out of baseball’s steroid era is that no one associated with Major League Baseball can escape the consequences of not speaking up. The steroid cloud will not discriminate. It will darken all who competed under it.
The names of 87 Major League Baseball players, both current and past, appeared in the report by former Sen. George Mitchell made public Thursday. The report is the bitter harvest of an investigation ordered by baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
The investigation was a few thousand days late and several million dollars short of preventing a catastrophe. For more than a decade, Selig, team owners and the players ignored the fact that players were using chemicals to cheat. After undeserving players began eclipsing the feats of deserving players in the record books, Selig called on Mitchell to investigate.
The investigation, even if too little, too late, helps show the breadth of the problem and provides hope that the sport can begin to police its problem the way it should have 15 years ago.
The report confirmed many who were rumored to be steroid users, but cleared no one. Although home run kings Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t make the list, no one is suggesting that these two players were clean. If they were clean, they’d be shouting from the rooftops instead of recoiling from the issue in silence.
We’ll never know exactly who was clean and who was dirty. The growing list of alleged juicers will never be complete, and the list of clean players, well, there isn’t one. The steroid abuse was so rampant that a suspicion of guilt has erased an assumption of innocence.
Good players, the ones who didn’t seek a chemical advantage, will be casualties of the steroid era. Their statistics, no matter how pristine, will be sullied simply because of the era in which they played. Any reference to their accomplishments will be tainted by the inclusion that they played during the “steroid era,” a time when statistics can’t be trusted.
That’s the price paid for not speaking up about what was happening around them. The message is that it’s not enough to be clean. The steroid problem cried out for some whistle blowers. None appeared.
The best we got was Jose Conseco’s self-serving book of confessions in 2005 aimed at bringing the fallen star money and attention.
No one stood up for baseball.
Those players who played the game with integrity needed to do more than manage themselves. They needed to call attention to the cancer that was corrupting the game.
And now, collectively, they’ll pay the price for their silence.