Next up for baseball: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny | NevadaAppeal.com

Next up for baseball: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

What did we learn from George Mitchell’s investigation into major league baseball’s use of illegal performance enhancing substances? Well, nothing. Mitchell concluded that there has been more than a decade of widespread use, that baseball’s response to that use was slow and, initially, ineffective. If you are surprised by any of that, well, you might want to check into that whole Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy thing, too.

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It was important for the Mitchell Report to name names. Barry Bonds is no longer the poster boy for the Steroid Era. OK, he’s still on the poster but that poster is now crowded. Now there is no denying that this problem didn’t involve just a few home run hitters. Pitchers did it. Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown, Eric Gagne, Brendan Donnelly, Andy Pettitte, among others were all named in the report. Marginal major leaguers (F.P. Santangelo, Mike Lansing, Larry Bigbie, Marvin Benard) did it. Catchers (Paul LoDuca and Gregg Zaun) that don’t hit home runs did it. Brian Roberts, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Lenny Dykstra and Miguel Tejada were also named in the report. Somewhere Bonds is smiling. He is no longer alone.

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It’s unfortunate that the honest players who did not use performance enhancing drugs during this ugly era will forever be linked with those that did. Too bad. Don’t feel sorry for them. Let’s not forget that those so-called “honest” players are just as much to blame for allowing this mess to flourish. But nobody had the guts to blow the whistle on their teammates, even though those teammates were cheating and possibly taking their jobs.

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Give major league baseball credit. Give commissioner Bud Selig credit for hiring Mitchell and ordering the report. When is the NFL going to do the same? The NFL wants you to believe that it’s biggest problem is Ricky Williams smoking pot. But nobody cares what offensive linemen are doing to their bodies because nobody is buying their jerseys at the mall.

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Yes, Thursday was a dark day in baseball’s history — maybe the darkest day ever. But it was a necessary day. Why? The lying is over. Finally. Players can’t lie to us anymore. Managers, owners, general managers, former players. They all just need to stop lying to us. We now know better.

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The issue moving forward is how the players connected to performance enhancing drugs should be looked upon. Well, Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame. Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame. All of their records should be honored. You can’t pick and choose which players to punish anymore.

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Mitchell said that the goal of his report is to bring to a close this troubling chapter in baseball’s history. Yeah, right. Good luck with that. Players will continue to cheat and get caught. This era is going to linger for quite some time, until all of the great players from this era (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and the rest) are in the Hall of Fame where they belong. That might take decades.

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The best thing about the San Francisco Giants signing Aaron Rowand is that they will now forget the ridiculous notion of trading Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum for an outfielder. Rowand, though, isn’t the missing piece the Giants need to compete for the National League West title. He’s just going to be another No. 6 or 7 hitter in a lineup filled with No. 6 and 7 hitters. Excited, Giants fans?

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Is there a reason to head out to AT&T Park this season? Of course there is. A bad day at the ballpark is always better than a good day most everywhere else. But if you go see the Giants this year, take along a radio. The most interesting part of this organization now, other than a few talented young pitchers, is its group of radio and TV announcers, namely Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper and Jon Miller. And, don’t forget, no announcers were named in the Mitchell Report.

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Why would Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino leave the organization during the season? Couldn’t he have waited until after the season to take the Arkansas job? Don’t tell me that Petrino, a former Wolf Pack assistant, needed to leave now so that he could recruit. The Falcons’ season is only going to last another three weeks anyway. If you are a high school football player and a guy like Petrino steps into your living room, are you going to trust that he’s going to be your coach for your entire career? Falcons owner Arthur Blank had every right to tell the world that he felt abused and betrayed by Petrino.

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Michael Vick now has a better future in the NFL than Petrino. There will be at least a half dozen NFL teams that will bargain for Vick’s services in 2009 or 2010 when he gets out of prison. No NFL team will ever touch Petrino again.

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Prediction: The Miami Dolphins will beat the Baltimore Ravens. Prediction: The New England Patriots will lose the Super Bowl. Prediction: At least one of the above predictions will be wrong. Hey, I’m guaranteed to go at least 2-for-3 with my predictions. Not bad, huh? That’s a .667 average without the use of performance enhancing drugs. Take that, F.P. Santangelo.

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All of the talk about the Mitchell Report did give us a momentary break from all of the New England Patriots’ hype that we have been buried under all season. For that we are grateful. Has there ever been a successful NFL organization as unlikable as the Patriots? OK, maybe the bad boy Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s came close. But who will you cheer for on Super Sunday? The Patriots with Bill Belichick and Randy Moss or the Cowboys with Terrell Owens? Here’s hoping Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy make it two in a row.

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Want a reason to go out into the cold night air to Lawlor Events Center this winter? Well, the Wolf Pack basketball team is going to get better and better as the season progresses and will be a team that nobody wants to play in the NCAA Tournament. That’s the hope at least. This year’s Pack club might even be a better tournament team than last year’s team. Hey, a bad night at Lawlor watching the Pack is better than a good night most everywhere else, right?