The sturm und drang, or rather the lack thereof, over the Mitchell Report on major baseball players' use of "performance enhancing substances" is a case study on how not to handle a PR crisis. Even if, as in this case, the crisis is largely imaginary, except in the outraged minds of pencil neck geek sportswriters. (There is no other kind sportswriter, so pardon my redundancy.)
The pencil neck geeks are in high dudgeon because that's their job, but mostly because they resent the hell out of pro athletes who get paid wheelbarrows full of money to play games geeks can't. The scribes of the toy department see themselves as educated journalists who really know their way around a semi-colon and might even have read Proust. Yet, they don't make diddly compared to these testosterone-laden freaks that barely finished high school.
And then those pumped up jock prima donnas have the bloody nerve to besmirch the sacred image of the game, to defame the legacy of such stellar immortals such as Ty Cobb, Pete Rose, Gaylord Perry, Babe Ruth, and countless other paragons of baseball virtue. (The very idea!)
The scribblers invoke apocryphal images of impressionable little leaguers who look up to those role models. What are those poor little innocents going to think? Will those doe-eyed Jose Canseco wanna-bes follow the terrible examples of those evil substance takers and be forever disillusioned, and perhaps maimed, if not outright murdered by those very substances? (Give me a moment. I promised myself I wouldn't cry.)
The Mitchell Report itself is a hoot. All they have is the hearsay of two perps who fingered 80 some players most of whom were already on the no-brainer list anyway. Where's the juicy stuff? I demand to see pictures of needles protruding from major league buttocks. I want a tearful confession from at least one suddenly gigantic second basemen who doubled his RBI total year over year. (Hint: he played for in a city that rhymes with Bee-Attell and his initials are BB.)
The "I did it for the team to recover faster from an injury" mea culpas from a few of those on the naughty list are almost as hilarious as Mark McGwire's "I'm not here to talk about the past" statement to Congress a few years back.
Meanwhile, there's Bud Selig, the MLB commish pretending to be outraged and shocked (shocked!) to learn that there was roiding going on in his establishment. Was there even any real news in the Mitchell Report? It was largely a big nothing that was poorly conceived, poorly executed, and poorly announced. That's three strikes if you're counting.
And in the end (get it?), do baseball fans give a rat's ass (get it?) if players are juiced on bennies, roided up, and freakishly large? Maybe a few. The rest of us only want to know what's his batting average? Any movement on his fastball? Can he go to his left? Can he smack a hanging curve into the next zip code?
To all my perennially disappointing pitching-poor Cincinnati Reds, I say: Shoot yourself up with steroids, human growth hormone, B-12, lidocane, testosterone, embryonic stem cells, Citrucel, pureed monkey testicles, Serutan, fortified tree sap, and anything else you can get your greedy fat little hands on. Cork up your bats and your balls, load up your pitches with loogeys, crank up your video surveillance on the other team's dugout, doctor the baselines to enable or disable the bunt, steal signs, steal bases, steal medical reports, steal a kiss, and steal anything else that isn't anchored by sixteen tons of concrete. Do whatever the hell you have to do, damn it, and win some ballgames.