December 2007

Your world changes in a day

R2585043916This is been some 48 hours. They have been full of intensity. And they shave showed us how easy your world can change, in a matter of minutes or hours.

Last night, the Astros announced the acquisition of Miguel Tejada, in exchange for what might have been the top pitching prospects in the organization, Troy Patton and Matt Albers, alongside Luke Scott and some other young hopefuls to the Baltimore Orioles. Adam Everett is now a Minnesota Twin.

24 hours later, here comes George Mitchell and his report. We have a massive storm surrounding us.

Tejada is now one of the major players in a 400-page-plus report which links more than 80 bigleaguers, both active and retired, in a sordid secret operation indirectly supported with the silence from teams, owners, teammates, coaches. In a nutshell, all of those who turned their backs on this issue using the hush-hush nature of the baseball subculture as an excuse.

Now, Tejada should explain all about a check for over 3,000 dollars issued to a former teammate, who was the missing link between him and a former clubhouse attendant at the New York Mets who carried the operation and was allegedly the provider for several Major Leaguers, from Roger Clemens down to some journeymen.

And that’s not all. We’re also dealing with the supposed Vitamin B12 shots Tejada imported from the Dominican Republic. That 2005 meeting in which both MLB and MLBPA officials asked him to stop injecting himself such vitamin shots.

Mitchell wonders, what was a ballplayer doing injecting himself in a locker room?

Mitchell also reveals us an email exchange between Rangers owner Tom Hicks and his GM, Jon Daniels, in which the latter expressed his concern over Tejada’s diminishing performance; and concluded it could be because he stopped using steroids. With that problem lingering over "la Guagua", he wasn’t all that interested in him.

There’s also the accusations against Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, detailed enough in an already extensive report which many have tried to devour and understand just today.

And we have passages about the behavior and drug use of former (and late) Astro Ken Caminiti, which admitted taking illegal substances in a story for Sports Illustrated.

Many are trying to dismiss the Mitchell report’s effect for several reasons: Plenty of Yankees and few Red Sox in the list (Mitchell is a member of the Red Sox board of directors), that he only talks about the Radomski operation and there are no further details. And what about Barry Bonds?

Precisely Mitchell didn’t get any more details because of baseball’s secretive nature. This world is a very small one, and many of those involved in it know each other. It’s still a wealthy, yet small, industry. So it shouldn’t be weird that word of mouth spread between fellow ballplayers that this guy Radomski can bring you the goods.

This issue makes us all look bad. Teams, owners, baseball players, both who did wrong and those who helped do wrong with their silence. The Commisioner’s office, which acted because practically the issue was about to blow on their collective face. The Players’ Union, extending the use of legal minutiae to the point of excusing the unexcusable.

Even ourselves, the writers. Sometimes we help in glamorizing and giving these guys the impression they are above us all.

It’s time we all agree that we have to do something. Now. I don’t think it’s necessary to see yet another kid who died because, following the pros’ behavior, injected himself with God knows what.

We can only hope this is the starting point for an objective evaluation, in which those accused can defend themselves, something they denied themselves the right to do so while Mitchell was doing his investigation. And that baseball understands, once and for all, that its members are regular citizens with the same rights and duties all of us have.

It’s tough, I’ll tell ya. It’s hard to digest today’s developments. But it’s necessary so the right measures can be taken in a world in which being stronger and more competitive seems to be more important than life itself.