Today's Names to Know: George Mitchell, Bud Selig, Whoever Is Named In the Mitchell Report (All 60-80 of You!), Bobby Petrino, Eric Mangini, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Mark Prior, Glen Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Marion Jones and More!
Mitchell Report here. The rumor-leaked list from this morning is somewhat wack. Here's Leitch's live-blog of the Mitchell press conference -- plus notes from the report's findings -- at Deadspin.
UPDATE: I don't think this "leaked" list was exhaustively right or complete. (For example: Pujols' name wasn't in the actual report, but was on the list.) Gotta love Internet rumors!
UPDATE: Mitchell Watch "Naming Names": It has begun. Clemens headlining the list? That is a biggie (but -- come on -- hardly a surprise to anyone).
How appropriate for a generation to be historically remembered as the "Steroid Era" that the greatest hitter AND the greatest pitcher were both cheaters? It's fitting, if nothing else.
MLB Doomsday: Mitchell Report out TODAY, with a news conference at 2 p.m. ET. This is the biggest story of the month, of the baseball offseason and -- depending on the results of the report and the subsequent fall-out -- the biggest story of the year. (Even if, down deep, fans don't REALLY care about steroids, PED-related cheating, no matter how much the media or Congress wans them to.)
The money quote? "Serious drug culture… from top to bottom."
Yes, that's severe, but is it really a surprise? It shouldn't be/won't be to any fan who has been following baseball (or any sport) over the last decade (or more).
But, really, it's all about The Names. Names. Names. Names. 60-80 names, according to the AP, including MVPs and All-Stars.
Who makes the list? How big are the stars? Who is still playing? What will happen to them? What will MLB do about it? (See Fanhouse's Pat Lackey.)
And what is the damage control: By MLB, by the players named, by the union, by everyone.
If both MLB and players are unhappy with the reports' results (as reports indicate they are/will be), that probably is a signal that the Mitchell Commission did about as good of a job as they could have, given the constraints of the union's unhelpfulness, MLB's apprehension about looking bad and Mitchell's own known conflicts of interest.
Much much more throughout the day.
One thing: Instant access to the report online? I hope Mitchell immediately releases the entire text of the report (plus exhibits!) online as soon as he makes his presentation. This was an investigation done in the public's name, and should be appropriately transparent.
(Funny detail in the AP report this morning: The Mitchell Report won't get into amphetamine usage, which is arguably way more of an epidemic – recently and historically – than PEDs. If he did, a 304-page report (plus exhibits!) would be 3,000 pages, and 60-80 names would be more like 6000-8000 names.)
Petrino/Arkansas/Falcons, Cont'd: Two pieces of awesomeness:
(1) Jerry Jones Tampering? Did Jerry Jones not just break but obliterate the handshake agreement among NFL owners by soliciting Petrino to go to Arkansas, a school to which Jones is as intensely loyal as he is to his Cowboys? Jones admits he looked into it, but denies he helped it happen. Hard to believe.
(2) Falcons Player Bitterness: Have you see the letter that Petrino taped up to a locker announcing his departure to the team? Lawyer Milloy apparently crossed out Petrino's name and put "Coward." Sweet. It would appear that Falcons players feel a little ticked off; I think that in retrospect, they'll be glad he's gone and replaced with a real NFL coach, not a college wannabe.
Given how much the players obviously disliked the guy, the level of vocal unhappiness coming out from players in the wake of this story is curious: Obviously, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to vent their season-long frustrations by publicly ripping the guy (and not without reason); but isn't the best response simply: "We're so happy to see him go; he was terrible."
In this whole mess, Arkansas fans come out the big winners (until, Petrino critics would insist, he leaves them unexpectedly for a better job). Petrino comes out as the biggest villain. Falcons owner Arthur Blank comes out actually looking sympathetic. And Falcons fans just get everyone else's well-deserved pity on a truly brutal season.
(Speaking of losers, I can't believe I ever thought Petrino would be a good fit. Thanks to the commenters who called me out, throwing my own words back at me. It's a rule: College coaches with no substantial previous NFL coaching experience can't coach pro; pro coaches with no substantial previous college coaching experience can't coach college.)
Pats-Jets Lead-Up and Jets' own cheating: I guess I'm not outraged that Eric Mangini taped the Pats (it sounds like it was fairly benign and regular end-zone taping, which the team got permission to do virtually everywhere from every team).
I'm more outraged that while Mangini was outing the Pats' cheating earlier this season, he wasn't forthcoming that the Jets were involved in their own (legitimate) taping operation.
That opens up the false-equivalency of "Well, the Jets cheated, too!" from Pats fans, when, in fact, the two tapings weren't particularly similar – from all accounts, the Jets' taping was S.O.P. (if a sketchy fit for this storyline); the Pats' taping remains cheating.
(Given the technological improvements, what if the NFL made any form of videotaping OK under the rules and encouraged teams to be creative about how they stole – and defended – their signals?)
MLB Trade Mania: Miguel Tejada to the Astros for 5 solid prospects. There were high hopes when Tejada got to the Orioles (and there were several moments through the years when he could have been traded for much more), but it just never worked out. The rebuilding O's get cheap young talent; the Astros get a front-line superstar.
(So: Given the timing of the trade, who wants to wager that Tejada is among the names listed on the Mitchell Report?)
MLB Free Agency: Aaron Rowand to the Giants for 5Y/$60M. He isn't just the last remaining free-agent stud to be found, but he actually gives the Giants a new "face" after the Barry Bonds Era. And the two faces couldn't be more different. For one, Rowand's head is much, much smaller.
Cubs let Mark Prior go: You don't have to be particularly old to say, "Remember when Prior was going to be IT?" It will be intriguing to see where he ends up… and if he can come remotely close to recovering his career. (Meanwhile, the Cubs officially signed Fukudome.)
NBA: Knicks bottom out? Knicks lose to Sonics at the Garden. Sure, the Knicks' humiliating blowout loss to the Celtics a few weeks ago was bad, but at least that was on the road to the East's best team. Losing to the woeful Sonics in New York is even worse. Hey, maybe Isiah will blame the Garden fans for Kevin Durant racking up 30.
More: The Sixers have won 4 games in a row... Did the Celtics' "Big Three" just add a "Big Baby?" Glen Davis had 16 and 9 in another Boston win… I was at the Pepsi Center last night and got a chance to see Carmelo score 32 en route to a big Nuggets win over the Hornets. I still think that AI is my favorite player to watch in person, but the burly Carmelo on a rampage to the basket is a pretty intense sight…
CBB: Ohio U. beats Maryland. Another mid-major notches a win over a "power conference" team.
CFB Coaching Carousel: I love that the Duke football head-coaching job was put on the Duke University job-listings page online. Almost makes me think I want to apply for it.
Marion Jones' name stricken from Olympic records: The triple-crown of Olympic ignominy is (1) Taking away the medals, (2) Erasing your name from the record book, and (3) Your overall reputation is tainted as "cheater" forever.
Today's Must-Read: Darren Rovell's predictions for 2008 for the year in sports business. Great stuff in here.