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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Leave it once again to Dave Zirin, a rapidly developing world-class muckraker and wordsmith, to pull down the pants of the MLB corporate machine, embodied this time in the empty suit of George Mitchell and his monumentally disingenuous, foul-smelling "report."

Mitchell's whitewash carries on the grand tradition of such documents as the Warren, Kerner and Kent State commissions, and a few NASA accident reports, where each in its own specific purpose flew in the face of openness, fact-based candor and enlightenment, in favor of subterfuge, doublespeak, driving responsibility intentionally downward and planned obscurity of the truth.

One can only hope that the controversy over this document will continue, and eventually lead to the real story behind this mess.

Stewart Braunstein

Deerfield Beach, FL

Dec 15 2007 - 5:55pm

Web Letter

While it's true that owners clearly benefited from all of the long-hitting, juiced-up baseball players, Zirin overlooks the role the players' union and the conduct of the players themselves played in this debacle. Much as I sympathize with the union and its historical fight against the tyranny of the owners (one of baseball's best books is by Marvin Miller on his role in helping establish the players union), the fact is that players realized they could get bigger salaries by hitting more and longer homeruns, and pitchers could strike out more people and have longer careers, by taking steroids. And the union was the enabler in this reality, because the union's job was always to get the best salaries for the players, and should that occur because players were juiced, well, so be it. So it was clearly not in their best interests to push for more stringent drug testing.

Yet anyone familiar with the damage done to the human body and mind by steroids suggests that the union and the players were playing with people's lives here in a deadly fashion. Think of Ken Caminiti. While his death in 2004 is blamed on a drug overdose, chances are he would still be alive today were it not for steroids and the damage they did to him (he allegedly ODed, but who knows how much of his depression and the fact his heart gave out was due to the consequences of steroids).

I have always been a big support of the MLBPA in its fight with the owners, and admired the skill of Miller and Fehr, but on the steroid issue, the players and their union have to take responsibility for sullying what is left of baseball's reputation.

Bruce Livesey

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dec 15 2007 - 12:02pm