Cubs, Sox and the Mitchell Report

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 14, 2007 5:20PM

2007_12_sports_mitchell_rep.jpgAfter months of investigating, former Senator George Mitchell released the results of his investigation into the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs by major league ballplayers. With a number of players testing positive for substances banned in recent years, and others exposed as customers via criminal investigations, commissioner Bud Selig tasked Mitchell with determining the extent of the problem, so that baseball can move forward.

Because it wasn't a criminal investigation, people couldn't be compelled to testify or turn over evidence. The vast majority of players who were mentioned seem to have been ratted out by just a handful of people or tied to two criminal probes into steroid distribution. How many others remained out of the report because their trainers or clubhouse boys didn't speak? A number of high profile players seem conspicuously absent from the report, or were mentioned only in passing. Sammy Sosa, for example. When players like him were sent requests for info and ignored it, and that's all that's in the report about them, well, that colors the legitimacy of the findings.

The report did list a few dozen players who were somehow connected with performance enhancing substances, a number of whom had played for the Cubs or White Sox. As for the players with local ties, neither the Cubs nor Sox have any current players implicated and very few accused of using while playing in Chicago.

Four former White Sox players were mentioned: Jim Parque, Scott Schoeneweis, Jose Conseco and Armando Rios. Schoenweis is alleged to have received shipments of steroids at U.S. Cellular Field while with the Sox. The other three allegedly used performance enhancers only before or after joining the club.

The Cubs also only had one player who supposedly used while playing in Chicago -- Glenallen Hill. Hill was one of twelve players mentioned who played for the Cubs at some point in their career: Todd Hundley, Kent Mercker, Jerry Hairston, Rondell White, Benito Santiago, Gary Matthews Jr., Matt Franco, Ismael Valdez, Rafael Palmeiro, Todd Pratt and Stephen Randolph. Notable absent? Sammy Sosa, of course! Rumors circulating Thursday morning suggested Sosa, as well as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior would be on the list, but those rumors proved false.

If those mentioned in earlier rumors did use, they may have escaped. Baseball seems to want to put the "steroid era" behind it and move forward. We suspect that this was baseball's one attempt to ascertain how widespread the drug problem had been, and we're suspicious it caught even a majority of users. Even so, the report suggested that 5-7% of players use steroids or human growth hormones.

Can the Mitchell Report help baseball clean itself up? Perhaps... but the report likely will do little to convince fans that the 'roids issue was a limited problem and that this report uncovered the true extent of their use in the game. Fans may never trust the players, stats and record of the past twenty years.

Photo by REUTERS/Mike Segar