June 10, 2008
When considering the impact of the Mitchell Report, many assumed it would hover like smog over the reputation of any ballplayer associated with it. The embarrassment alone, beyond whatever penalties brought by the law or by the commissioner's office, probably would deter future drug offenders. Some assumed that a slow start to this season — especially with power numbers — directly correlates with report data.
Such a scarlet letter — maybe in the form of an "HGH" brooch — actually might be doing the trick. Power numbers are down across the league, especially compared with two seasons ago, and folks around baseball talk of the good fight to cleanse the sport being won.
That doesn't mean that the still active players among the "Mitchell 89" — about 35 or so active players — are all playing poorly. Indeed, their performances this year have been a mixed bag. Some are plummeting, some are rising, but a good amount are performing at or near their career numbers. Here's a look at some of them in the All-Mitchell Report Team.
Note: These players were expressly named in the Mitchell Report. That is why Mark McGwire, for example, does not appear; Mitchell produced no evidence on McGwire. That's also why the skipper for the All-Mitchell team, Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals, has managed an astonishing 14 (instead of 15) players named in the report.
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Catcher — Paul Lo Duca, 36, Nationals
.200 BA, .298 OBP, .260 SLG, 4 RBI, 50 AB
Career averages — .287/.337/.412
Rap sheet: Four-time All-Star made at least six purchases, Radomski says; Dodgers internal memo indicates team knew about his activities.
Conclusion: All is forgiven on the home front, where fiancee and performance artist Rietsa Lelekakis is busy, busy, busy planning the couple's Greek Orthodox wedding this January. Will Lo Duca get to wear the hat as George Costanza so desired when he nearly converted?
First Base — Jason Giambi, 37, Yankees
.259 BA, 14 HR, 34 RBI, .566 SLG
Career averages: .288/.410/.537
Rap sheet: His own grand jury testimony says he injected himself with HGH and steroids; also a user of "the cream" and "the clear."
Conclusion: Famously apologized, only never said for what. A guess: It was for cheating. So, doesn't that mean he cheated us on his apology? Sorry means never having to say you're sorry, like in "Love Story."
Second Base — Brian Roberts, 30, Orioles
.284 BA, .363 OBP, .453 SLG, 18 SB
Career averages: .282/.352/.412/37 SB
Rap sheet: Initially named by ex-teammate Larry Bigbie, Roberts eventually admitted to one episode with performance-enhancers. Must have been a great one-night stand because his slugging percentage went from .376 (2004) to .515 in one season.
Shortstop — Miguel Tejada, 34, Astros
.300 BA, .335 OBP, .466 SLG, 7 HR, 39 RBI
Career averages: .287/.343/.476/ 27 HR, 107 RBI
Rap sheet: Kind of the Elwood Blues of steroids; Tejada's name is like a rash all over the steroid landscape, though his guilt is harder to prove because Tejada, it is claimed by others such as Bigbie, used a third party to buy the drugs. Also fudged on his age, possibly so he could vote (as Anthony Michael Hall's character did in "Breakfast Club.") And Tejada was born with the last name of "Tejeda."
Conclusion: You say "Tejeda," I say, "Tejada." Let's call the whole thing off.
Third Base — Troy Glaus, 31, Cardinals
.265 BA, .371 OBP, .443 SLG, 7 HR, 38 RBI
Career averages: .255/.359/.497/ 35 HR, 101 RBI
Rap sheet: Declined comment on report he bought goodies — nandrolone and testosterone — from an anti-aging clinic a few years back.
Outfield — Rick Ankiel, 28, Cardinals
.261 BA, .341 OBP, .462 SLG, 8 HR, 25 RBI
Career averages: .260/.320/.460
Rap sheet: Admitted to using HGH under a doctor's care in '04 as his pitching career failed.
Conclusion: He become reborn as a power-hitting, cannon-armed outfielder. It's still a feel-good story if you deny/ignore/understand/forgive/consent to/approve of/champion/lust after his involvement.
Outfield — Jose Guillen, 32, Royals
.266 BA, .292 OBP, .473 SLG, 10 HR, 47 RBI
Career averages: .274/.324/.448/ 21 HR, 88 RBI
Rap sheet: A 15-game suspension (hey, there's a novelty for this list) was commuted by Selig (oh) as part of a recently toughened agreement with the players union. Had Guillen actually been punished, it would have been for buying HGH, testosterone and steroids during 2002-'04 or '05 from Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. Sounds like the place where they made Soylent Green.
Conclusion: There is no drug for a crappy on-base percentage — which has been Jose's biggest crime all these years.
Outfield — Gary Matthews Jr., 33, Angels
.236 BA, .316 OBP, .356 SLG, 6 HR, 5 SB
Career averages: .260/.333/.415/ 15 HR, 63 RBI, 13 SB
Rap sheet: Found on a customer list for Applied Pharmacy Services, reportedly big players in the steroid distribution racket. Applied also sells this stuff, which I think is made from people! Soylent Green is people! Also received a package of HGH, which Li'l Sarge says he never inhaled.
Conclusion: Instead of paying Matthews $50 million over five seasons, Arte Moreno should have invested in a remake of "Soylent."
Designated hitter — Gary Sheffield, 39, Tigers
.213 BA, .344 OBP, .331 SLG, 3 HR, 12 RBI
Career averages: .294/.396/.519/ 33 HR, 107 RBI
Rap sheet: Provided "the clear" and "the cream" by BALCO, but thought they were Alka Seltzer and Preparation H, or something.
Conclusion: Injuries are and liver spots are piling up on Sheff, whose knife can only be resharpened so many times.
Paul Byrd, 37, Indians — 3-5, 4.46 ERA, 26 K, 8 BB, 1.19 WHIP
Career averages: 12-10, 4.36 ERA, 105 K, 44 BB, 1.32 WHIP
Rap sheet: Byrd bought HGH and syringes in quantity between 2002-05 — to treat a tumor in his pituitary gland, he says. Also admits to struggling (struggling?) with pornography, though has not copped to using performance-enhancing drugs for it. More details forthcoming in Byrd's book.
Conclusion: Seriously, what about pornography is so tough to grasp (pun possibly intended)? Does this mean Byrd's doppelganger, porn king Randy Spears, has morality issues with baseball?
Andy Pettitte, 36, Yankees — 5-5, 4.99 ERA, 55 K, 19 BB, 1.46 WHIP
Career averages: 17-9, 3.87 ERA, 157 K, 66 BB, 1.36 WHIP
Rap sheet: Admitted that he used HGH in 2002 and, after more news leaked, that he also did the stuff in 2004. Bigbie probably was about to break on Pettitte, too, until the Red Cross stepped in.
Conclusion: Widely viewed as a sympathetic character because of his apology in spring training and because his dad is ill. Pettitte, it should be noted, lied (like many others did) at first about his involvement in drugs and later, to Congress, used his own father as a mitigating factor. The Fonz says: That ain't cool, aaaaaayyyyyy.Setup man — Eric Gagne, 32, Milwaukee Brewers
1-2, 6.98 ERA, 18 K, 16 BB, 2.02 WHIP
Career averages: 4-4, 3.43 ERA, 30 saves, 113 K, 35 BB, 1.16 WHIP
Rap sheet: Radomski says Gagne bought two kits of HGH through Lo Duca, a former teammate.
Conclusion: Issued weak denials in French and English, then allowed 14 go-ahead homers in ninth inning.
Closer — Ryan Franklin, 35, Cardinals
2-2, 2.45 ERA, 8 saves, 20 K, 13 BB, 1.29 WHIP
Career averages: 4.19 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Rap sheet: Franklin docked for 10 games by MLB way back in '05 after a positive steroid test. Claimed that "There must be a flaw in the system," and later was given another shot by La Russa.
Conclusion: St. Louis is like Boys Town. La Russa, like Father Flanagan.
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Matt Herges, 38, Rockies — 3.41 ERA in 28 appearances; made 2-3 purchases from Radomski in '04-05; also has benefited from deadening of balls at Coors.
Scott Schoeneweis, 34, Mets — 2.39 ERA in 30 appearances; report claims six steroid shipments in '03-04.
Derrick Turnbow, 30, Brewers (Triple-A) — 15.63 ERA, 13 BB in eight appearances; tested positive for steroids in '04 before international competition, before substance was against MLB rules.
Ron Villone, 38, Cardinals — 4.07 ERA, 23 K in 26 appearances; bought six HGH kits in '04 and '05 and tried to buy more in '06 but the store was closed.
Kent Mercker, 40, Reds — 3.29 ERA in 15 appearances; bought an HGH kit shortly after shoulder surgery in '02. Yep, he's still pitching.
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C — Gregg Zaun, 37, Blue Jays — .264 BA, .350 OBP in 41 games; HGH might be to blame for third, unnecessary "G" in "Gregg." Says it's all Jason Grimsley's fault that his name's in the report. I say let's buy it.
C — Gary Bennett, 36, Dodgers — .190 in 10 games and on the DL; The first "Mitchell player" to sign a deal for '08 after admitting he took HGH in '03 to help himself heal from injuries.
IF — Jerry Hairston Jr., 32, Reds — batting .339 with .476 slugging in 39 games; named by Radomski and Sports Illustrated as HGH customer; the only "Mitchell player" to be having significantly better season - other than maybe Dykstra - since the report.
IF — Howie Clark, 34, Twins — .250 in four games; Radomski says he made made four or five sales here.
OF — Jack Cust, 29, Athletics — .247/.407/.467 in 58 games, which is almost spot-on with his career numbers. The only connection between him and performance-enhancing drugs is whatever Bigbie said in the Mitchell Report. Bigbie also found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
OF — Larry Bigbie, 30, Yokohama Bay Stars — Hitting .258 as of June 7; Do you get the feeling that this was the guy on "Law and Order" whom Briscoe and Logan always thought they could roll, and then they rolled him?