Was it really worth it?
C'mon. Was it really worth all that money, all that time, all that trouble?
Was it really worth it to relive all those years of ugliness, shred all those reputations, embarrass the sport of baseball all over again?
The answers to that string of questions can be summed up with one pithy little word: no.
I thought 20 months ago that the Mitchell report was a lousy idea. And here I am, having read 359 scintillating pages of it (so far), just as convinced of that as ever.
But now that it's out there for your downloading delight, right here on this very site, Bud Selig's sport won't be the same. Can't be the same. Shouldn't be the same.
How has the Mitchell report changed baseball's landscape? Here are five ways it will undoubtedly leave its mark:
There are 86 players named in the Mitchell report -- but only one living legend. And if you guessed we don't mean Josias Manzanillo, way to go.
Roger Clemens has won 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards in his 24-year career. Yes, who among us will ever look at Roger Clemens quite the same after the Mitchell report?
Who among us will ever be able to forget what it felt like to read eyeball-rattling phrases like, "McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone," in this report?
Not this particular observer. That's for darned sure.
Is there any doubt the Mitchell report will wreak havoc on Clemens' legacy, reputation and Hall of Fame vote totals?
Is there any doubt that 99 percent of all Americans already regard George Mitchell's conclusions about the Rocket as immutable fact, without even examining them closely?
So you probably don't even care that Clemens' lawyer was using words like "slander" to characterize all this. You probably don't even care that the evidence is more tenuous than you'd think.
You probably don't even care that two attorneys who were surveyed Thursday, both of whom now work in the sports world, say they're extremely dubious that the allegations against Clemens would hold up in court. Not even in a civil case.
You might find that surprising, considering that Clemens is one of the few players in this report whose alleged use of illegal substances was actually witnessed by a living, breathing human being (trainer Brian McNamee) who then spoke with the Mitchell crew.
But one attorney -- a man who doesn't represent players, by the way -- said the entire case is "all based on one guy [McNamee], and there's no documentation."
True, there are checks written by McNamee to the human smoking gun, Kirk Radomski. But the report tells us, right there on Page 174, that Radomski admitted that McNamee never told him that Clemens (or Andy Pettitte) used steroids or HGH. It was merely implied, Radomski said.
Those implications were good enough for George Mitchell -- obviously. But the other attorney we surveyed said that in an actual court, a judge would tell a jury that the testimony of a witness like McNamee, who had made a deal with the government, was "not sufficient for conviction. There must be independent corroboration."
So what's the corroboration? Information supplied by another witness who made a deal with the government. Uh-oh.