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In the end, it was only appropriate that George Mitchell gave baseball a report on steroids that looked like it was on steroids.

News photoBud Selig
AP PHOTO

Bloated up like Barry Bonds, it was too much for even the commissioner of baseball to fully digest, though Bud Selig promised that he would stay up nights if needed to slog his way through all 409 pages.

He doesn’t need to bother, because a quick read turns up only these two questions about the whole steroid mess:

Who is Cody McKay, and who would have thought big, bad Roger Clemens was so squeamish about needles?

The answer to the first one didn’t take all that long to find out. Turns out McKay was a lifer in the minor leagues who turned to steroids to get the extra boost he needed to make it to the bigs and ended up playing 37 games over two seasons in the majors before lack of talent finally overcame the miracle of modern chemistry.

Clemens is another story. He’s one of the greatest pitchers ever, if you believe the record books, and his intimidation and meanness on the mound was a big reason he won seven Cy Young awards and could still throw a blazing fastball while in his mid-40s.

Who would have thought he had to ask someone else to shoot him up and preferred steroids over human grown hormone because he didn’t have to get a “belly button shot.”

The big news out of the Mitchell Report, of course, was the outing of Clemens, something that had to make Bonds feel a bit better even if the only thing Clemens stands to lose is his reputation and ticket to the Hall of Fame.

Bonds and his supporters have long implied that racism was the reason he was targeted, while the media looked the other way with players like Clemens.

Actually, the reason was that there was some evidence against Bonds while there were only rumors and Jose Canseco’s claims about Clemens. That, of course, changed when Clemens’ own personal trainer told Mitchell he gave the pitcher injections of different steroids on numerous occasions when he was playing for the Blue Jays beginning in 1998.

Mitchell’s people didn’t stop there. They nailed Andy Pettitte, fingered Miguel Tejada and implicated a slew of All-Stars including Eric Gagne. Paul Lo Duca comes across looking like a two-bit street dealer, there were some juicy new details about Bonds himself, and we finally found out why ex-pitcher Kevin Brown was perpetually surly despite making $15 million a year.

They even detailed a steroid party in an Albuquerque, N.M., apartment, where Lo Duca and four minor league teammates got together before a game to shoot each other up in hopes it would help them get called up to the Dodgers later that year.

All in all, a pretty impressive piece of work considering players refused to talk and the players’ union stonewalled him at every chance. But even Mitchell admitted it was just a peek into the sleazy underbelly of baseball, where who knows how many players spurred on by the success of Canseco 20 years ago couldn’t wait to get their hands on drugs that would help them play better.

“I reported what I learned but I acknowledge, and even emphasize, the obvious,” Mitchell said. “There is much about performance-enhancing substances in baseball that I did not learn.”

For that, a lot of players can be breathing easier. So can a lot of general managers and owners who kept signing players to huge contracts even though they knew they were juiced.

The Dodgers traded Lo Duca to the Marlins in 2004 when they thought he wasn’t hitting hard drives to the outfield anymore because he was off steroids.

In an internal memo of a staff discussion, their only concern was that if he was traded he would get back on steroids and have a great year because that was his makeup.

It’s all included in what should be regarded as an excellent report considering the circumstances.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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