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Why the MLB steriods debacle is a crock

The Mitchell Report was created to find cheaters in Major League Baseball. But as Don Reisinger points out, it quickly became a witch hunt with poorly corroborated evidence.

In a slight departure from what I normally cover here on the Digital Home, I thought I would touch on one of the biggest stories affecting all media today -- the MLB steroids debacle.

In the extremely unlikely chance that you've been able to stay away from any and all news surrounding the topic, George Mitchell -- the MLB's resident steroids czar -- released a huge report detailing how deep steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) use runs in Major League Baseball.

According to former Senator Mitchell, a whopping 87 players have been implicated in his first testing and in a statement to the press, he mentioned that subsequent investigations will surely conjure up even more stories about player abuse of both steroids and HGH.

But after reading the majority of the report and going over the finer details describing exactly how Mitchell and his minions caught these players, I'm hard-pressed to see how this even matters. As best as I can tell, only three players -- Daniel Naulty, Wally Joyner and Andy Pettitte -- have admitted to using illegal substances, while many of the others were implicated on circumstantial evidence -- at best.

With that in mind, how can we make a judgment on one man's career if he cannot be implicated of a crime, he will not be brought up on charges and cannot clear his name of any wrongdoing if Mitchell's report was factually incorrect? Sadly, we can't.

And it's for this reason that this report is not only nominally important, it's a crock.

Now, it should be noted that I do not support the use of steroids or HGH and my own personal feelings of who did steroids and who didn't really don't matter in this discussion. Did BALCO clients use steroids? I guess we'll find out when Barry Bonds goes to court. But right now, the only logical decision anyone can truly make is to say that we'll just have to wait and see.

Besides Barry Bonds, one of the biggest names on the Mitchell Report was Roger Clemens. In case you haven't followed his career, Clemens has been a one-man machine for over twenty-years and has propelled himself to the status of a sure-fire Hall of Famer. For years, the country was amazed at Clemens' ability to overcome age and perform at a such a high level.

But then the Mitchell report hit the wire and now people are calling for MLB to expunge all of Clemens' records and eliminate him from Hall of Fame balloting because he's a "cheater."

Suffice it to say, that opinion is uneducated and pure crap.

Here's what the Mitchell Report says about Clemens: "Interviews with Jose Canseco and trainer Brian McNamee stated that Clemens used human growth hormone, Deca-Durabolin, Winstrol, Sustanon, and possibly Anadrol, during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 MLB seasons, some of which he obtained through McNamee from Radomski. Radomski corroborated these allegations as far as to say that he sold performance-enhancing drugs to McNamee in amounts that were clearly for redistribution. Clemens declined interview."

So let me get this straight. Roger Clemens is a cheater because Jose Canseco -- an admitted cheater -- and a trainer said that Clemens used HGH and steroids? Oh, and then Mitchell really got him when a distributor of steroids sold them to this trainer "in amounts that were clearly for redistribution."

Huh? Now we're taking some guy's word that steroids were sold for redistribution that definitely went to Clemens? Please.

For many players, the list goes on like this -- circumstantial evidence that assumes proof. And while some evidence was almost iron-clad -- Mitchell was able to find checks that were written to Radomski by players -- there were a host of players who Mitchell had no proof of any sort on. In fact, he went so far as to say that he heard from some guy who heard that this player knew someone who he had played with taking steroids. Really? That's what we're calling the truth nowadays?

Look, whether or not these players truly used performance-enhancing drugs cannot be known by anyone except for those players. And let's also not forget that none of these players, regardless of their guilt, can be tried in a court of law. Unfortunately, they have already been tried in the court of public opinion and it looks like they have lost.

As it stands, many of the players on Mitchell's list have created amazing careers for themselves that could easily put them in the Hall of Fame. But in the end, that will only happen if you and I believe they truly deserve it. But if these players can't be tried in court where their innocence is assumed and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, who can exonerate their names? Regardless of where you stand on this issue, these players have been assumed guilty and there's no jury to tell us otherwise.

The Mitchell Report could have been great for the game of baseball; it could have shown the world that MLB wants to stop cheating and knows exactly how to do it. Instead, the Mitchell Report became a witch hunt that cannot be corroborated by hard evidence.

Is that really the legacy Major League Baseball wants to create?