Can't you just feel it? The Mitchell Report -- former U.S. Senator George Mitchell's 20-month investigation into drug use in baseball -- will be unveiled in an 11 a.m. news conference today in New York, and at last baseball can move forward. The report will signal the end of rampant steroids speculation, provide a definitive plan for comprehensive and modern testing, be straightforward with its methods of investigation and wrap a neat bow on a baseball era that now will go away.
At last, truth, justice and honor will return.
And if you buy all that, a spokesman for the Mike Nolan-Alex Smith Mutual Love Society is waiting on the other line.
The release of the Mitchell Report is no small thing, and it would be ludicrous to pretend that it is. It figures to detail some of the who, what, when, and perhaps where of the Steroid Era's evolution (the why should be pretty self-evident; think $$$), all while serving as an educational tool for those who may one day study this sport and its place in our culture.
But what Mitchell's work will not do -- and you can bet your Pete Rose baseball card collection on this -- is provide closure. Not about the past. And certainly not about what can be
The Mitchell Report is just as likely to be remembered as a modern-day Warren Commission Report than as a powerful, comprehensive document. The primary purpose is not to offer fans an explanation -- after all, if fans help generate a record $6 billion in revenue, as they did in 2007, what's to explain? -- but to keep those nasty critters in Congress from nipping at commissioner Bud Selig's heels.
Too, it probably will name a lot of names, but really, where does that leave us? Those who are named -- at least the bulk of them -- likely will hide behind the "The doctor spiked my nutritional drink," excuse, and may have to serve slap-on-the-hand suspensions. Those who aren't named won't be above suspicion, because Mitchell wasn't allowed subpoena power to interview players and because the Players Association didn't cooperate with him.
Then there are the ancillary issues, none of which come with an adequate answer. Didn't Mitchell's presence on the Boston Red Sox board constitute a conflict of interest, even if, as according to ESPN, he wasn't being paid? Were the investigative methods above board? How much blame should the commissioner shoulder? How much should go to the individual clubs? In other words, same as it always was.
Two dozen active and former players have been named or linked to steroids or HGH since the Capitol Hill Gang -- Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco -- testified before Congress on March 17, 2005, and it hasn't stopped chicks from digging the long ball.
Now, the reason for that phenomenon is best left for the sociologists to explain. But the short version is that accountability is in short supply these days.
Thus, the reason that it's impossible to imagine baseball players, owners, general managers, etc., rushing to change their stripes in the aftermath of Mitchell's findings. It will be wonderful fodder for discussion, and it no doubt will lead to the kind of speculation that today's journalism loves so much, but in the end, it doesn't promise to change anything.
For that, there needs to be a fundamental shift at a very basic level enveloping all sides. The owners and players must work together to ensure more comprehensive drug testing and prevention, and the ticket buyers have to provide the pressure by deciding not to buy tickets, memorabilia, and whatever else.
Safe to say that Dorothy is more likely to fall from the sky than those other things. The investigation figures to fracture some of the goodwill gained between the Players Association and owners over the past few years. If fans really cared about all this enough to make a financial impact, they'd have shown it by now.
So in all seriousness, consume that breakfast and sip that coffee. Because when it comes to truth, justice and honor in baseball, today promises to be just another day.