The Mitchell Report And Its Aftermath

By Gregory Moore
Updated: December 20, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — Well it’s finally out. Former Sen. George Mitchell’s report on steroid use in baseball has finally been released and already there is fallout. Yet what I have heard over the weekend just turns my stomach. There are people actually saying that the report is nothing more than a 21st century version of McCarthyism; a witch hunt if you will. Really?

So a report that took almost two years to put together and about $20 million spent because no player, former or current, wanted to tell the truth is a witch-hunt? Yeah and Dumbo was just another Disney character, the Miami Dolphins really didn’t win their first game of the season on Sunday and the Cold War is really over.

I’ve heard some ignorant things in my lifetime but the spin machine that is being used by Major League Baseball’s faithful takes the cake. When the report was released I was like everyone else. Heck I knew that the main suspected players would be on the list. What I didn’t suspect was that there would be so many “utility” players on the list.

I’m no diehard baseball fan but I’ve got to admit, unless the guy is a star, I don’t know who the heck he is. For example, who in the hell is Jason Grimsley? You didn’t know who he was (for the casual fan now) until his name popped up. Two thirds of that list has guys like Grimsley on it; guys who are good enough to stay out of the minors but if it weren’t for a little help synthetically, may not have lasted that long.

If you think this report doesn’t mean anything, think again. The court of public opinion is totally different than a legal court. Diehard fans of baseball are skeptical for one reason and the casual baseball fan is skeptical for another. Either way, both factions are skeptical of the game.

And for a game that prides itself on statistics and personal achievements, this report is so damning how can anyone associated with the MLB say that the report over blows the situation? They simple can’t if they were honest about it and that’s the problem; everybody has lied about it for so long it’s almost second nature.

That’s really too bad because baseball fans deserve the truth right now no matter how ugly it might seem.

STEROIDS AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL IS SERIOUS Okay I’ve got to get on my soapbox for a moment. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been a serious proponent of steroid testing at the high school and collegiate level ever since BALCO graced our sports consciousness. Since 2002, I’ve written several articles about it on this medium and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. However what really bothered me is something I heard locally and it is just disturbing.

A local talk show host, Mike Taylor, told the audience that he didn’t think steroids use at the high school level was that big of a deal and that the folks at the UIL (University Interscholastic League), Texas’ governing body on high school sports and other extra curricular activities, has no business ordering athletes to succumb to such tests. Paraphrasing what he said, “Until you can show me big numbers, I just don’t think it is that big a deal”.

Well to say that Taylor is wrong in his assessment would be putting it lightly. For someone who has kids, I’m now questioning his commitment to see that a level playing field for all student athletes is adhered to. His got little kids right now and this problem doesn’t affect him but Taylor is from Plano and maybe he remembers the story about Taylor Hooten.

If Mike Taylor doesn’t remember the story, Hooten was a strapping you man who played baseball for a Plano, Texas high school and was a gifted athlete yet he started taking steroids. Hooten later died but the story was so compelling that 60 Minutes ran a piece about it three years ago and it has probably been re-broadcasted on ESPN Classic once or twice.

The story was so big that Tyler’s dad, Don Hooten, spoke to a Senate subcommittee about steroids. Taylor may not remember this story but I do. Here is just a portion of what Mr. Hooten told the politicians on July 13, 2004: “Taylor was a pitcher. During the fall of his junior year, his JV coach told this 6-foot-3, 175- pound young man that he needed to get “bigger” in order to improve his chances of making the varsity team.

Senators, I’ve been around baseball all my life, and I still haven’t figured out why he needed to be any “bigger” in order to throw a baseball. But, whether or not the coach was correct, he never backed up his directive any instructions on what kind of diet or exercise program that he should follow to meet his goal.”

The complete text of what Don Hooten told those senators on that day can be found at What happened to the Hooten family happens quite frequently in America. Now do we have hundreds of kids taking steroids and committing suicides? Of course not but one life lost to this mess is one too many and that is my beef with Taylor and what he said on his radio program.

I’ve been around kids my entire life and I spent a great amount of time in my adulthood volunteer coaching all the way up to about 2003 or 2004. I’ve never in my life told a young man that he needs to get bigger by taking something. I’ve never had to take anything when I was in high school. Hard work, working out in the weight room and eating right was the only we I knew.

Now are kids bigger and stronger now than when I was in school? Sure they are. Sports medicine has come a long way from the Joe Weidner days and now there are all kinds of supplements kids are taking. Steroids happen to be one of them, particularly HGH.

I’m not saying that Mike Taylor isn’t allowed his opinion. He is. That’s why he has a radio show. But to blindly go out without anyone countering his take does our kids a disservice. Steroids at the high school level are a danger and it does exist. The sad thing is that no one would have never really taken it seriously if Taylor Hooten’s story didn’t show up on 60 Minutes II three years ago.

But for someone to say it’s not a problem, well that’s just plain idiotic. If Taylor and others don’t think this is a problem at the high school level, maybe they need to talk Don Hooten and others who have lost their children to dangerous side effects that steroids or some other supplements. I’m sure each and every one of those parents would strongly disagree with him and others.

EVERYONE IN THE PETRINO FIASCO WAS A WEASEL Bobby Petrino bolted last Tuesday to the University of Arkansas and he left an Atlanta Falcons franchise in such disarray that it might take months for the players and the fan base to come to grips with what happened. I’m all for someone finding a new gig but there has to be a right way in going about it.

If ESPN signs me to do analysis for them on Black athletes in sports, I cannot just simply jump over to Fox Sports Net if the gig is better without first going about getting out of my contract in an honorable way. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I think that being honest about your actions means something when it comes to a contract; especially if we are talking major money.

Petrino evidently thought different. His wife thought differently. His agent and the Razorbacks thought differently. And yes, Arthur Blank thought differently too. Bottom line everybody acted like a weasel in this fiasco and that has cost innocent people some angst.

If Petrino didn’t think he was up to the task then he should have been honest back in January of this year. Yes it would have been nice to have Michael Vick this year but Vick was a weasel in his own forum.

He used money he was being paid to fund an illegal gambling operation and whether people want to believe that or not, dog fighting is an illegal gambling enterprise and no matter what the color of the owner, the federal government is going to go after the illegal gambling enterprise; especially if you are a $130 million athlete. A witch-hunt this was not.

Okay before I digress and go off on a tangent, back to Petrino and the other weasels in this affair. Petrino was wrong for quitting last Tuesday. That makes him a coward and if I’m a parent who has a kid being recruited by Arkansas, I’m heading somewhere else. In San Antonio there is a kid being recruited and his parents really need to take a good look at this situation.

Their child isn’t a quitter but the new head coach is. Yeah, this means something to some folk. The integrity of the coach is at stake and Petrino’s integrity is so shaky he needs to buy concrete shoes just to walk up right. But this also goes for Frank Broyles too. As an athletic director, how can anyone sit calmly by and unceremoniously believe that this wouldn’t be a public relations nightmare.

Houston Nutt quits the football program and takes on a job at Ole Miss and the Razorback nation thinks it is okay to pluck a professional coach from a team in the latter part of the season? No that’s not right.

Oh and Petrino’s wife hasn’t helped the situation one bit. Forget about her family what about the families of the assistant coaches at Atlanta? Did the Petrinos think of them? No.

They were selfish and only thought of their own happiness. As for his agent, let’s just say that I’ve lost respect for that gentleman as well. Somebody in that group should have been the reasonable one. Guess greed is more important than honesty.

Speaking of honesty there’s Blank and he doesn’t come off squeaky clean either. Because of his ineptness to run a tight ship, that ship is sinking. The moment Angelo Hall went off on Petrino, Blank should have sat Hall down and told him he is on the short bus out of Flowery Mound.

Blank allowed his players to disrespect his new coach. Yeah, Petrino was a neophyte at the pro level but Blank knew that this year would be a difficult year. He should have been backing Petrino more.

Maybe that’s why Bobby went to Arkansas so quickly but that is still no excuse. Everybody in this mess is a bunch of weasels and they should not be sleeping easily at night.

Greed begets greed and it also hurts innocent people in the process. Bobby has his fat contract in Arkansas but the Falcons must now find a new head coach. Emmitt Thomas is interim but you can bet that Blank won’t hire him.

Was Petrino sold a bill of goods that was bad by Blank? Sure he was. The Falcons, as an organization, needs to clean up their closet of skeletons. But did they deserve to be deserted the way Petrino did it? No.

Petrino says he is a professional and at the NFL everyone is a professional. This whole ordeal was just rotten from the core and that is why everyone associated with it looks like a weasel in the eyes of sports fans.