Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Andy Petite, Todd Pratt, Gary Bennett, Paul Byrd, Dave Justice, Fernando Vina, Alex Cabrera, Brian Roberts, Lenny Dykstra, and many more. I know them, or have been friends with them, or know them through competing against them, and many more names on that list.
If you plan on writing some idiotic off the cuff rant slanted one way or another feel free to close the page now, it will be deleted. The opinion I am offering is mine and mine alone. Regardless of whether you view it as right or wrong it’s my opinion from what some might call an insiders perspective.
First off on the Senator himself. I’ll take the word of the many reputable people I have heard talk about Senator Mitchell and after reading the report I don’t think I’m wrong. People wanting to point to his apparent ‘extreme bias’ based on his position as a senior member of the Red Sox organization are on a wild goose chase. I would argue that most of the people calling his character into question are doing so because they can’t relate to someone possessing integrity and an unbiased opinion in his position. Meaning those people are saying “If it were me I’d be unfair and taint the report to read in favor of the Red Sox”. (The conspiracy theorists out there are having a field day with Senator Mitchells relationship with Boston and his integrity, I don’t have any issues with either and I think if you look at his reputation and record you can safely say this man has made a living out of doing some pretty damn good stuff.)
I disagree. I think that given the people that talked, the people that had to talk to make this stuff come to light, had far more bearing on the names and groups of players in question than the man leading the investigation. I would also argue that of all the people put ‘out there’ in this report his take on the Red Sox dealings with Brendon and Eric Gagne will have people up in arms much more than many other parts of this report.
Agree or disagree, if you start your assessment of this report with a biased opinion of Senator Mitchell and you question his integrity then I’d argue you’re not seeing this for what it is. But that’s your right.
As for the names on the list, and Lord knows there’s no shortage of those, I have feelings very strongly in some cases due to personal history, and opinions in many others. I’ve played, roomed and lived with some of these guys, and competed and gotten to know others.
To Andy Pettite, Brian Roberts, Gary Bennett, thank you. All three of these guys I know, Andy not very much, but the other two I know very well. I played a few years with Gary, worked out at API and competed with Brian. Gary Bennett is a guy who I always respected because I never figured him as a guy that would be able to play as long as he has. He was always a hard worker and a nice guy and I always enjoyed throwing to him because he cared about his game calling skills. He’s made a nice career for himself and my hope is that it was more through his hard work and effort than through cheating, either way he’s a friend of mine and always will be. Brian Roberts worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever been around. Not to mention he’s about as kind and giving as anyone you’ll ever meet. I know how regretful he is and I know that this mistake is not indicative of his choice making in life. He screwed up, knows he screwed up and admitted it. I’ve always had huge amounts of respect for Andy Pettite, as a competitor and as a person. Someone who’s made his beliefs as a Christian very public and always been the big game pitcher as well. He says he did this one time to recover from an injury, I believe him.
What does all of this mean? As it pertains to this report it means absolutely nothing. These three guys were man enough to admit they were caught, made a huge mistake, and asked for forgiveness. There will be many who say they only admitted what they did because they were caught, which is probably true in every case, but the fact of the matter is that when you look at how many names are now out there, very few have chosen to own up to the mistake and take responsibility. To dissect the manner of their apologies, or try and discern intent is irrelevant to me. I know all three guys are good people. The world is full of good to great people that have made mistakes of this magnitude or worse. I’ll argue that this mistake in many cases doesn’t define the people I know, but merely points to another fact of our lives that people continually dismiss.
We’re human, we make mistakes, some bigger than you, some smaller, but at the end of the day it’s what makes us human. These guys made mistakes and I do mean mistakes. They didn’t accidentally do this, this was a conscious decision with far reaching implications and they should be held accountable. Problem is the fans version of accountable is completely dependent on their opinion of the player in question. If you are a fan then all is forgiven, or there is much less vitriol than you might have for other names mentioned.
Bottom line is you will act and react based on your opinions of these players. Opinions you’ve formed based on media coverage given by the very same people now reporting this story. Short of actually meeting any of these players the only things you know about them are what’s been reported to you via television or newspapers over their careers. You can’t know in any depth how good or bad any of these guys are. You know their home to first times, their OBP, WHIP, and you know some of them are ‘gamers’, but as people you can’t know what they are really like can you? Does that really matter though? That’s for you to decide and I am sure their inclusion in this report has significant impact on your opinions of them as players and as people, how can it not.
Jose Canseco? Not sure where to start. I would offer that there is a small amount of personal history on my end. Back in the early 90’s Jose and I were represented by a firm called Beverly Hills Sports Council. Jose ran a celebrity softball game in Miami after the huge hurricane and I had a chance to spend some time the evening before the event with him. My impressions were that he was an extremely shy guy, incredibly nice and caring. He was very much into the Miami community and giving back as well.
About 15 years later I am not sure those things don’t still ring true, but what’s happened over the past few years has made me think other things about him. I heard him on WEEI this past weekend and he was lying. He was stating that I lied in front of Congress and that I was reprimanded afterwards. Neither of those is true. I have stated many times before, and since, that I was called before Congress, subpoenaed actually, based on a comment I made to a sports illustrated writer a few years before about my thoughts on the % of players using PED’s in MLB. Based on 2-3 quotes I made, Congress felt compelled to call me to the meeting to offer an ‘anti-steroids’ opinion.
Please remember this. At a Congressional hearing you are sworn in and any and everything you say can be used for future actions against you or someone else unless you are granted immunity, even with immunity if you lie you lose that right. Everything I had as an opinion to that point, and for the most part now, was thought, opinion, conjecture. Having to this day never seen anyone inject steroids or HGH, I was in no position to speculate, nor would I. To even mention a name as someone I ‘thought’ was using, or do anything of that sort would amount to defamation of character of people I was guessing may have used. I couldn’t do that, others can and have but I could not.
As far a Jose goes, my opinion on what he’s done is, I guess, rather convoluted. On one hand Jose lied about every aspect of his professional career as a player. His entire career, all of it, is a sham. He never belonged in the big leagues and anything he ever did in the major leagues is a hoax. He made it clear that he would not have been the player he was had he not cheated. His statistics should be erased, his MVP given to the runner up and he should go down as the guy who broke the silence on a horrible period of the game, period. He was never in his life a major league player.
The problem I have, and the opinion I have, is based on the fact that he lied his entire career, every single day of it. He cheated his entire career, and lied about it. He spent his entire career on the record claiming he didn’t use PEDs, yet only when his life was in shambles and only when it served Jose Canseco the most, did he ‘come clean’. Only then did he become this bastion of truth and honesty. Is that not the scam of scams? He made his hundred million or so, and when he was no longer good enough to compete up here, only when cheating stopped being enough to keep him competitive, only then did he scream ‘blackballed” and vow to get his revenge. Only then did he tell the truth, or his version of the truth.
Which in the end gets us here. Say what you want about Jose, and there are things I disagree with and think he’s wrong about, but I have yet to find someone he’s named who’s NOT been guilty or tried to clear their name. The view I have on that is maybe a bit too simplistic but I look at it like this. If Jose had named me in his book, it would have taken about 20 minutes for me to issue a press release vehemently denying the allegations, which would have been as closely followed as possible by as large a legal action as I could have possibly taken to sue for slander, libel, defamation of character and anything else I’d have been able to legally do. It’s either that, or I’m guilty. There is no gray area here, you either did, or you didn’t and Jose, up through today, hasn’t called out anyone that’s sued his ass off for false representation, slander, libel or whatever you would do if someone said something like this about you, that you didn’t do.
So regardless of what you might think about him he has broken the flood gates on a topic that went unspoken on for far too long. The amount of damage done to the sport will be far reaching and I don’t know that we’ll ever truly know how bad it is until people a few generations from now are looking back on this era.
This past week he made a comment publicly that he was ‘shocked’ that Alex Rodriguez was not mentioned in the Mitchell report? Based on what he has said and done he was clearly saying to me that he has personal knowledge of Alex as it relates to PED’s? How can he do that? Are we at a place where people are ok with names being thrown out this callously is ok? I hope like hell Alex stops anyone from mentioning his name as it relates to this and legally shuts up Jose from mentioning his name anymore as it relates to steroids or PEDs.
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. I know both of these men. Roger had a profound effect on my career from a very early point. His ‘undressing’ of me and lecture were a major turning point. I’ve always respected his career accomplishments and regarded him as the greatest pitcher to ever play the game. Now I, like every other Yankee, Clemens fan am faced with a dilemma. The two men that fingered multiple players, from my understanding, both testified with immunity, but only if they told the truth. So these guys had every reason in the world to NOT lie. That doesn’t mean they didn’t, but there is an immense amount of incentive for them to NOT lie when they gave their depositions because lying would have seen them open to legal actions beyond what they are already facing. So the question to me then becomes this. It’s no mystery that Roger and Andy are as close as any two teammates I know of. Andy makes no bones about Rogers influence in his career. Their personal trainer, the trainer Roger took to Toronto, then to NY, has admitted to administering PED’s to both men. Andy has admitted he did, and that it was a mistake and he never did it again. Roger has denied every allegation brought to the table. So as a fan my thought is that Roger will find a way in short order to organize a legal team to guarantee a retraction of the allegations made, a public apology is made, and his name is completely cleared. If he doesn’t do that then there aren’t many options as a fan for me other than to believe his career 192 wins and 3 Cy Youngs he won prior to 1997 were the end. From that point on the numbers were attained through using PED’s. Just like I stated about Jose, if that is the case with Roger, the 4 Cy Youngs should go to the rightful winners and the numbers should go away if he cannot refute the accusations.
I met Barry Bonds in the early 90s. Like Jose, Barry was represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council and I was invited to a dinner along with Gary Sheffield to celebrate Barry’s 2nd or 3rd MVP. By the way that was just about the only time I’ve ever interacted with Sheff and he was the kindest, most polite guy I had ever met. Incredibly well spoken and incredibly respectful and kind. That was where I first met Barry. We had a chance to talk a bit but I listened much more than I spoke (my how times have changed). I obviously respected the player, who wouldn’t? That next year we were playing against SF and he hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning off of me to tie a game (1993), and stood at home plate for about 3 days. I made a few comments and he did his thing. I stopped being much of a fan at that point. Over the past 13 or so years the rest of my opinion of Barry has been formed, fairly or unfairly, by playing with and talking to former teammates, clubhouse guys and other people in the game, as well as competing against him. Barry is pretty much the guy that’s been represented by the media as a whole in my opinion. Take that for whatever it’s worth. The big difference in where we are now, and I think in the court of public opinion, is that many things have happened in the past few years that have presented opportunities for him to ‘clear his name’ (no pun intended), and he hasn’t.
Someone wrote a book about Barry which outlined a ton of things that Barry supposedly did, and nothing happened. Barry instituted legal action to bar the publishers of the book from profiting from sales. Nothing about the allegations in the book, nothing, just tried to stop them from making money. Barry testified, with immunity, in front of a Grand Jury. In the opinion of that Grand Jury Barry lied under oath no less than 4 times and is now facing indictment. Barry’s personal trainer has gone to jail for failure to testify in the Grand Jury proceedings. My question is, if you did nothing wrong, and know of no crime being committed, why would you have to go to jail? What information would you possess that would land you in jail for failure to disclose? If you are innocent, and no one is hiding anything, why is anyone going to jail? More importantly to me, how good of a friend would I be if I allowed someone I considered to be my friend to go to jail for me? What does that say about me? What does that say about my guilt/innocence? If I haven’t committed a crime why would anyone I am friends with have to go to jail for failure to answer questions about me or my activities?
It may not be that simple, or I might just be naive and stupid. But if I am being called in front of a grand jury to give testimony, and I am given total immunity from prosecution as long as I tell the truth, why would anything beyond my testimony be in discussion after I testified? If lying meant jail time and losing my life, and family, is there anything short of the safety and health of my family that would be worth that price? For me I’d have to say no.
This could all be crap in the end, Barry could be totally innocent of all charges of perjury and his relationship to Greg Anderson, Victor Conte and Balco, and all the evidence found against him could be false.
Whatever happens now though, can you separate what Barry is accused of from what Roger is accused of? If they are both found not guilty cool, if not then they are one in the same no?
If neither of those things happen, and both of these men end up being caught, what does that say about this game, us as athletes and the future of the sport and our place in it? The greatest pitcher and greatest hitter of all time are currently both being implicated, one is being prosecuted, for events surrounding and involving the use of performance enhancing drugs. That sucks.
Your opinions will have all personal bias, they have to, it’s what humans do. Fans in NY will continue to rant and scream about the fact that there are multiple Yankees in this report given by a member of the Red Sox organization. There are Bonds fans railing on Roger now, he needs to be vilified the same way Barry has been.
I don’t know the answers to any of this beyond what I feel. The sport needs fixing. It’s become clear that testing has to involve an outside party at some point and that the MLBPA and MLB need to find common ground on testing that allows investigation for probable cause instead of only relying on positive tests.
Scream all you want about the testing program in MLB but there isn’t a test in existence that can identify the the presence of HGH with any amount of accuracy. My understanding of the NFL Program is that a player must test at 6 times the normal level of HGH in their system to be a positive. I don’t know the details, I just know testing is woefully inadequate in catching people that use it. The use of Steroids in the game is significantly lower now than it was. I believe that is a combination of a good thing and a bad thing. I think testing truly has reduced the amount of people that use, but I also think that Senator Mitchell nailed it when he said that there has been a significant shift from oil based to water based drugs in the past few years. Every expert I have heard speak on testing has talked about the immense difficulties in keeping up with the cheaters, who are in a constant race to find the new and better thing that takes months for testers to even discover, and even longer to create tests to reveal.
So there is my long winded opinion. It’s only mine, so don’t put words in anyone else’s mouth for me. This stuff is not fact, it’s what I think and feel, and I don’t speak for any other players either. I have no desire to talk to the media about this issue beyond this post. Bottom line for me is that your beliefs and perceptions are going to be shaped on your opinions of the players before this report was issued, and most people are not or do not choose to forgive or be flexible with players they don’t know or don’t like, but openly embrace ‘their guy’ for coming clean or worse yet “there is no way he is guilty’. No one named in Jose’s book that he claims has used has taken the effort or made the commitment to clear their names, and with the exception of Dave Justice, Roger Clemens, every person named in the Mitchell Report has either already been caught, or admitted to using since the report was issued. I am hoping that every person that was named and did use admits to it, admits it was a mistake (where applicable), and asks for forgiveness (if they want it) and moves on.
At the same time I pray that ANYONE in this report that is innocent, steps up and clears their names, now, today. No one has, and through today no one has done anything but issue a crafted statement in someone else’s words denying their guilt or association in any of this.