The national game received a comprehensive indictment leaving its reputation in tatters. The Mitchell report has fingered almost 80 players many of them All Stars like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Gagne for taking steroids knowingly or as an inadvertent victim. They have joined Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. A few years ago in congressional hearings Mark McGuire and Rafael Palmeiro pleaded guilty. But it is clear that the few known steroid absusers were just the tip of the iceberg as alluded to in Jose Canseco's tell all book. The Mitchell report represents a body blow to the MLB. Suddenly Pete Rose's dastardly act of betting against his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, appears quaint and outmoded. Who is clean in MLB? The system is broken from top to bottom.
Mitchell said the problems didn't develop overnight and there was plenty of blame to go around.
"Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades _ commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players _ shares to some extent the responsibility for the Steroids Era," Mitchell said. "There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on.
There has always been some suspicion with naysayers in the US, that soccer players are cheaters. Sure, some soccer players are prevaricating creatures too, diving and flopping. Is there a systemic abuse? Not really, as these are crimes that can be caught on tape and penalized. There are corrupt soccer establishments like some in the Serie like Juventus with its match fixing under Luciano Moggi. Measures were taken as Calciopoli sickened even the Vatican. But by and large individual soccer records are clean as steroids and growth hormones don't benefit players. This is not true for sports like MLB and NFL where there is a premium on explosive speed and strength for certain player positions. Having bulked up players helps with bat speed and blocking. The NBA would not benefit either as girth is not much appreciated but ball handling skills and spatial awareness is.
There is also a perceived lack of interest in soccer because the magnitude of its records do not match up to that of the US sports. I would like to see which MLB player can truly hit more than 25 home runs without being juiced. With a audience hooked on seeing the record of home runs tumble (remember the addicted public following the Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire slugfest), next year is going to be very interesting in terms of MLB viewership. The die hards will not give up. But soccer might benefit from a new generation dismayed and turned off by the cynicism afflicting the national game.