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By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - With all due respect and acknowledgment of what the Mitchell report intended to accomplish - to document across 409 pages at a reported $20-million cost that, yes, baseball has a drug problem - one can't help but think that the money could have been better spent with some forethought.
No current Rays were among the 85 players named, and the organization's connections to those who wore a Tampa Bay uniform are loose. But short of Roger Clemens, the names given aren't earth-shattering. Most are the same we've been whispering for years. And most are far past their playing days.
"I just don't think the report really gave any breakthrough information," Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "What's the point of bringing out a list of names of guys who don't even play anymore? It doesn't change anything. Teams still won games. Teams still lost games. Teams still have World Series championships. Nothing changes.
"If it's up to me, why don't you use that money for future research to find a drug test that works, figure out a test for (human growth hormone)?" Gomes added. "Why don't you use it to educate players, to teach players coming up through the minor leagues what's right and what's wrong? I just think there might have been a better way to do it."
And though most of the report's recommendations - which include completely random and unwarned testing through an independent system and the creation of a department of investigations - have merit, did the game really need to drop $20-million to come to such obvious conclusions?
CLEMENS CONFESSIONS: There have long been soft whispers about Clemens possibly using performance-enhancing drugs, especially as he dominated into his 40s, but his inclusion in the report might be enough for the veteran writers who vote on the Hall of Fame to keep him out of Cooperstown.
"I'm on record as saying I won't vote for cheaters," said Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, a longtime and respected sportswriter who is in the Hall of Fame's writers wing. "I said that about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. So I have to say it about Roger Clemens, too. He cheated and he wasn't participating on a level playing field with guys who chose to play the game the right way."
Reactions were mixed, but if a vote was done today, it would be unlikely Clemens would receive the 75 percent he would need for enshrinement.
"I would vote for him," said the Rocky Mountain News' Tracy Ringolsby, who is also in the writers' wing. "I think what this report shows is that baseball, like other sports, went through a period of time that will be forever blemished, but it also shows this was an industry-wide situation, not isolated cases."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: The Nationals seemed to have a plan to deal with Elijah Dukes, which reportedly includes moving him from Tampa to Orlando for the rest of the offseason to work out with former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, a Nats special assistant, and having support groups in place by the time he arrives in Washington. ... Despite its unpredictability, the fact that some big names weren't offered contracts and its reputation as a bargain bin, the nontender market didn't interest the Rays much this season. ... Former Rays starter Jae Seo signed to play in his native South Korea, a deal that could earn him $1.5-million. ... According to the Mitchell report, it was Adam Piatt, before he was released by the A's and briefly played for the Rays in 2003, who introduced and sold illegal drugs to All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada through Kirk Radomski. ... For those not so fond of the dark blue in the new Rays uniforms, manager Joe Maddon sported a vibrant light-blue cap with the sunburst logo during his "Thanksmas" preparation. ... Speaking of Maddon's "Thanksmas," also included in the festivities was the manager going through the Rays offices feeding team employees. Bench coach Bobby Ramos, dressed in a Santa outfit, added to the holiday cheer.
SPRING SCHEDULE: The Rays' home spring schedule doesn't include a visit from the Red Sox because Boston had to cancel some of its spring games because of its March 22-26 trip to Japan. ... In past seasons, the Rays spent the last part of the spring schedule on the road, including the last game at the Trop, to accommodate the Grand Prix race, but they won't this season because the race is later. ... Not only will the Rays' March 28 game against the Reds be the last at Progress Energy Park, Tampa Bay's spring finale in Sarasota the next day will likely be the last game at Ed Smith Stadium.
[Last modified December 15, 2007, 18:24:49]