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Inside Mr. Met's Head


December 13, 2007 8:20 PM

The Mitchell Report: One Mets Fan's View

As you may have heard, baseball's big day of self-flagellation took place just a few hours ago, with the release of the Mitchell Report and the trio of press conferences addressing baseball's steroid problem and what needs to be done. Of course, the vast majority of those tuning in or downloading the report weren't particularly interested in Mitchell's recommendations; for them, it was all about the list of players who would be "outed" as purchasers and/or users of performance-enhancing drugs.

While the only current Met mentioned in the report is Scott Schoeneweis, who had already been implicated in the Signature Pharmacy investigation, there are a handful of prominent former Mets scattered throughout the report, a revelation that should not be particularly surprising given that much of Mitchell's information comes from Kirk Radomski, who was a clubhouse assistant for the Mets until 1994. Let's go through some of the names that matter to Mets fans (this is not an exhaustive list of everyone who spent some time as a Met and was named in the report; I just went through and picked out the players that are generally associated with the Mets) :

Lenny Dykstra: Dykstra's inclusion in the report isn't exactly surprising. Suspicion of steroid use has surrounded him for quite some time, and what was revealed today only confirmed what most people with halfway-decent vision had already figured out on their own. Still, he sticks out like a sore thumb on the late-80s Mets in that his drugs of choice were of the performance-enhancing variety.

Matt Franco: Franco was a key member of the bench on the late-90's Mets teams, and until today I mainly thought of him for those moments when he came through for a key pinch hit. I have to say that I was very disappointed to see in the report that he allegedly purchased steroids from Radomski in 2000 (although he denied using steroids or even knowing Radomski). Of course, the fact that he slugged .313 in 2000 should serve as a reminder that steroids don't always make the people who take them good at playing baseball.

Todd Hundley: The following is an excerpt from page 163 of the Mitchell Report:

Radomski stated that, beginning in 1996, he sold Deca-Durabolin and testosterone to Hundley on three or four occasions. At the beginning of that year, Radomski told Hundley that if he used steroids, he would hit 40 home runs. Hundley hit 41 home runs in 1996, having never hit more than 16 in any prior year. After the season, Radomski said, Hundley took him out to dinner.

While I'm saddened to know that Hundley, who was one of my favorite players when I was a kid, used steroids the year he hit all of those home runs, it's also not knowledge that comes as a total shock.

Paul Lo Duca: The information about Lo Duca in the report goes a long way towards explaining why the Mets showed absolutely no interest in re-signing him. There are checks Lo Duca made out to Radomski for human growth hormone, a note he wrote to Radomski on Dodger Stadium stationery while he was with the Dodgers, and the following notes from a meeting that Dodgers officials had after the 2003 season:

Steroids aren’t being used anymore on him. Big part of this.

Might have some value to trade . . . Florida might have interest.

. . . Got off the steroids . . . Took away a lot of hard line drives.

. . . Can get comparable value back would consider trading. . . . If

you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he

can have a good year. That’s his makeup. Comes to play. Last

year of contract, playing for 05.

 

The report also states that Lo Duca was purchasing and using performance-enhancing drugs while he was in the Dodgers' minor-league system, that he was referred to Radomski by Todd Hundley when they were both with the Dodgers, and that he later referred some of his Dodgers teammates, including Kevin Brown and Eric Gagne, to Radomski. If any Mets fan is still upset that the Mets were so eager to let Lo Duca go after learning what we learned today, I don't know what to say.

Todd Pratt: Of all the names mentioned in the report, I have to say that this was the one that really broke my heart. One of my happiest memories as a Mets fan is of being at Game 4 of the '99 Division Series, and thanks to the revelation that Pratt was a steroid user, that memory has been tainted.

Mo Vaughn: The report includes photocopies of checks that Vaughn made out to Radomski in 2001, and according to Radomski those checks were payment for human growth hormone. As if I needed another reason to remember the Mo Vaughn Era in a negative light.

I'm sure that I'll have a lot more to say about the Mitchell Report once I fully process what I've read, but for now, I'll leave you with 3 major things that stand out to me:

  1. While there are surely plenty of players not in the report who used performance-enhancing drugs, the names that are mentioned really drive home how pervasive the use of steroids and human growth hormone is throughout baseball. It's not just the all-time greats like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, it's not just the MVP-caliber guys like Miguel Tejada; it's not just the journeyman relievers like Mike Stanton; it's not just the "really, if they were using that stuff, they should demand a refund" guys like Nook Logan; it's pretty much players at every level of ability.
  2. As much as we've all known for a while that baseball has a problem, it still hurts on an emotional level to hear that a player on your favorite team was using. For all of the big names that were revealed today, here I am all upset about a backup catcher, because that backup catcher played a fondly-remembered role on the team I grew up rooting for.
  3. Baseball players are not particularly smart. Paying for their HGH shipments by personal check? Having them delivered to the ballpark? For crying out loud, the potheads who live down the hall from me do a better job than that at covering their tracks!

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