Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

American Spectator: Cosh: Naming Names

The latest from Colby Cosh…who hasn’t been seen on these loyalty review boards in a while.

“The list” rapidly became a monolithic, undifferentiated object. It seemed reporters and fans had been capable of understanding and denouncing individual “bad guys” when there was evidence against only a few, but were incapable of intelligent handling of an itemized mass indictment that was almost immediately confirmed as being partly true by several of the named players. (It has even persuaded some obscure bit players who had been left off the list to come forward and confess, as if through some neurotic wish to appear on history’s stage next to greats like Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada.)

Mitchell has been accused by some of engaging in “McCarthyism” for “naming names” in his report. This is somewhat curious, since Mitchell himself had no special power to compel anyone’s testimony. Nearly every ballplayer he sought to interview refused to cooperate. His report is no more and no less than a work of investigative journalism, and he would indeed be in line for a Pulitzer right now if he had been a mere journalist.

Repoz Posted: January 02, 2008 at 05:20 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: primate meetups, steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Colby Cosh Posted: January 03, 2008 at 12:50 AM (#2658703)
I'm still lurking. I figured my Raines piece got skipped over because of Rock fatigue on the forum, but now here I am, the last baseball fan in the universe to shovel out a column on steroids.
   2. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 03, 2008 at 01:16 AM (#2658712)
Nearly every ballplayer he sought to interview refused to cooperate. His report is no more and no less than a work of investigative journalism, and he would indeed be in line for a Pulitzer right now if he had been a mere journalist.
One would hope -- though there's no reason to believe -- that Pulitzer-caliber investigative journalism consisted of more than spending twenty months to take a few minutes of dictation from federal prosecutors.
   3. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 03, 2008 at 01:46 AM (#2658719)
To be sure, there could have been a good investigative story in there. Far more useful than "naming names" would have been to talk to players and find out why they chose to use. (Although few major leaguers would talk to Mitchell, he could have spoken to the numerous minor leaguers who had tested positive, none of whom are protected by a collective bargaining agreement.) Then he could have traced the actual path of steroids into baseball -- who were the sources? How did players find out about those sources? Some of that can be gleaned from the report, but it's not explicit; he focused more on the individuals who he wanted to accuse.
   4. Colby Cosh Posted: January 03, 2008 at 07:34 AM (#2658858)
But that sort of inquiry is self-evidently a lot easier now than it was before the report, because no one who talks to a journalist about steroids has to feel as though he is going to wear the yoke of shame by himself. You want historical background on the crisis?—hasn't more of it hit the papers in the last three weeks than in the entire history of baseball beforehand? Between Pettitte, Vina, Brian Roberts, David Segui, Shane Monahan, F.P. Santangelo, and Dan Naulty, and those are just the names I've noticed, there's almost already enough material for a book. I didn't hear any of these guys piping up beforehand.

Anyway, I wouldn't say he focused on the individuals he "wanted to accuse"; it seems like he focused on the ones there was evidence against. And I'm not sure how else you'd go about it.
   5. Exploring Leftist Conservatism since 2008 (ark..) Posted: January 03, 2008 at 07:55 AM (#2658861)
Mitchell has been accused by some of engaging in “McCarthyism” for “naming names” in his report.


cc, I believe "naming names" is the opposite of McCarthyism. One of McCarthy's favorite tactics was to brandish a "list" of "known Communists" (alledged to be employed, for example, in the U.S. Department of State) while actually offering very little in the way of specifics.
   6. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 03, 2008 at 02:40 PM (#2658954)
cc, I believe "naming names" is the opposite of McCarthyism. One of McCarthy's favorite tactics was to brandish a "list" of "known Communists" (alledged to be employed, for example, in the U.S. Department of State) while actually offering very little in the way of specifics.
It depends whether one uses the term "McCarthyism" to refer narrowly to the actions of Joseph McCarthy, or whether one includes the anti-communist efforts of the government in that era generally, such as the actions of HUAC. Much of what falls under the rubric of McCarthyism in the public mind -- e.g., the "Hollywood Ten" -- was really HUAC.


But that sort of inquiry is self-evidently a lot easier now than it was before the report, because no one who talks to a journalist about steroids has to feel as though he is going to wear the yoke of shame by himself.
Well, maybe... if the report is about naming names. If the report is about what happened and how, though, they might be more willing to talk to journalists. (Besides, as I already mentioned, Mitchell didn't find out any of these names himself; prosecutors did. Their involvement -- and whatever concomitant shame there is -- was already, or would soon be, a matter of public record.) Also, as I also noted, Mitchell does have the equivalent of subpoena power with respect to minor leaguers.

You want historical background on the crisis?—hasn't more of it hit the papers in the last three weeks than in the entire history of baseball beforehand?
Well, no, actually. Between Canseco, Caminiti, Balco, Grimsley, and the Albany investigation, plenty was out there before the Mitchell report.

Look, based on the Mitchell report we can guess and infer stuff, but it doesn't answer basic questions like, Are these players the tip of the iceberg? Did many hundreds of players use, and it just happened that the feds got one supplier -- Radomski -- out of the scores out there? Or was Radomski the biggest supplier in MLB, so that catching him means that most guilty parties were caught? How often did people actually use? Were the primary users people who got hurt and were trying to come back more quickly? Stars who wanted to become HOFers? Minor leaguers who wanted to become major leaguers? Old players who wanted to stay in the game, young people who wanted to get in the game, or a representative cross-section? When did people actually start -- high school, college, minors, majors?

Was use individual -- did guys decide on their own, based on their own personal experiences, to use steroids? Or was it a team effort -- did certain clubhouses have a 'steroid culture'? Was it just word of mouth that led someone to a supplier -- or did suppliers actively push their wares? Were the people who didn't use those who had moral objections, or health objections, or simply didn't think they needed it, or were they the oblivious sorts who didn't know where everyone else was getting steroids from?

Any or all of these answers would have been more useful -- though far less salacious -- than "Here's a list of names, starting with Roger Clemens, of people who used, talked about using, or met someone who used."
   7. Colby Cosh Posted: January 04, 2008 at 12:39 PM (#2659992)
I think we can both offer a pretty confident answer to the question "Are these players, most of whom are named by one of just two sources, the tip of the iceberg?" As for the rest, aren't you holding the report to a standard of near-omniscience? No, it's not the final answer to every question one might have about performance-enhancing drugs.
   8. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 04, 2008 at 01:18 PM (#2660000)
I think we can both offer a pretty confident answer to the question "Are these players, most of whom are named by one of just two sources, the tip of the iceberg?" As for the rest, aren't you holding the report to a standard of near-omniscience? No, it's not the final answer to every question one might have about performance-enhancing drugs.
Omniscience? I'm not asking it to pull the answers to these questions out of its innate knowledge. I'm saying that Mitchell should have spent 20 months trying to find the answers to those questions.
   9. Craig Calcaterra Posted: January 04, 2008 at 07:07 PM (#2660300)
David,

Just wanted to let you know that I put up a blog post this morning, approvingly quoting a good chunk of comment #6. I gave you credit for it by name and linked back to this thread. This afternoon Neyer picked up my post and linked it. I'm paranoid about such things, but I worry that anyone reading Neyer may get the wrong impression that I thought up the questions not answered by the Mitchell Report when it was your work (though to see what those questions are, they have to read my attribution to you).

Anyway, I didn't want to take credit for basically cutting and pasting your analysis, and if you think I am, I will gladly enhance and intensify the attribution as you see fit.

Craig
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 04, 2008 at 07:46 PM (#2660359)
cc, I believe "naming names" is the opposite of McCarthyism. One of McCarthy's favorite tactics was to brandish a "list" of "known Communists" (alledged to be employed, for example, in the U.S. Department of State) while actually offering very little in the way of specifics.

David rightfully notes that the term "McCarthyism" often confuses McCarthy himself with HUAC and other congressional and excecutive committees, but arkitekton's broader point is valid.

When McCarthy or HUAC actually did "name names," at least a falsely named victim had the chance of answering back, however vague the charge and however unreliable the witness.

But in fact the purest essence of "McCarthyism" was the branishing of terms like "20 years of treason" and other such slanders, all of which had the effect of tarring entire agencies with the "disloyalty" brush. It was repeatedly used by Nixon and other Republican candidates in the heyday of that era (and McCarthy himself even continued it after the Republicans took over the White House), and if there's any proper counterpart to it in our own context, it's encompassed in the term "the steroid era," with the broad suggestion that "we really don't know if any players weren't on the juice."

It was a lazy and nasty bit of mudslinging then, and it's no less nasty in this context today.
   11. John M. Perkins Posted: January 04, 2008 at 07:58 PM (#2660373)
"Naming names" is even more opposite of McCarthy. "Naming names" is the role of the witness. "Were you or any other person you know a member of the Communist Party?" It's Jose Canseco and Jay Payton.
   12. Colby Cosh Posted: January 05, 2008 at 05:34 PM (#2660987)
You'll probably never catch me using the phrase "the steroid era" un-ironically. Though I'd consider it if we reached consensus on referring to segregated baseball as "the racist era" or the '70s-'80s as the "ugly multipurpose stadium era".
   13. rr Posted: January 05, 2008 at 05:37 PM (#2660991)
I thought the list of questions in post #6 by Nieporent was good, too. I am glad it is getting out there. I posted right after the report came out and said the biggest question was "How many Radomskis are out there and how big of a fish is he?" Other people said similar things.
   14. rr Posted: January 05, 2008 at 05:44 PM (#2660999)
I read Craig's blog post on this. Good work. I find it oddly ironic that the guy who asked the "questions" about the Mitchell Report is a libertarian who thinks players should be allowed to take any PEDs they want, instead of a PED hawk, be it someone here or someone else.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Randy Jones
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER's lookin' forward to the weekend, Friday, Friday, September 22, 2017
(109 - 1:10am, Sep 23)
Last: Joyful Calculus Instructor

NewsblogMarlins’ Brian Anderson — inspired by Brian Anderson and Brian Anderson — has one of the most common names in baseball history - Sun Sentinel
(29 - 12:33am, Sep 23)
Last: Bote Man

NewsblogOTP 18 September 2017: Ex-Baseball Star Darryl Strawberry Criticizes Jemele Hill, Praises POTUS: Trump is ‘A Great Man’
(1245 - 12:20am, Sep 23)
Last: Ray (RDP)

Sox TherapyStep One Complete
(47 - 11:42pm, Sep 22)
Last: Textbook Editor

NewsblogAlbert Pujols is having the worst season for a 37-year-old in MLB history
(34 - 11:09pm, Sep 22)
Last: djordan

NewsblogRobinson Cano hits 300th home run | MLB.com
(31 - 10:44pm, Sep 22)
Last: Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine

Newsblog‘Friends,’ the Sitcom That’s Still a Hit in Major League Baseball
(462 - 10:41pm, Sep 22)
Last: Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams)

NewsblogOT - August/September 2017 College Football thread
(203 - 10:36pm, Sep 22)
Last: Lance Reddick! Lance him!

NewsblogThe Rangers release artists’ renderings of their new ballpark
(26 - 10:33pm, Sep 22)
Last: Wahoo Sam

NewsblogKarl Ravech on Twitter: There is no conversation worth having ...
(12 - 10:27pm, Sep 22)
Last: Wahoo Sam

NewsblogWhere have you gone, Tim Lincecum? In search of beloved Giants ace
(28 - 8:14pm, Sep 22)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogDayton Moore on why Royals did not sell | MLB.com
(19 - 7:28pm, Sep 22)
Last: Zach

Gonfalon Cubs15 To Go
(78 - 5:27pm, Sep 22)
Last: Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington

NewsblogThe subtle change that saved Aroldis Chapman’s season | New York Post
(2 - 5:11pm, Sep 22)
Last: Mans Best Friend

NewsblogPat Neshek rips Zack Greinke for not signing autograph | SI.com
(52 - 4:57pm, Sep 22)
Last: Dog on the sidewalk

Page rendered in 0.4503 seconds
47 querie(s) executed