Now nobody disputes that the circumstantial evidence here is still the most powerful content in this whole report. And nobody believes that the American public will give a flying forkball about those reasonable doubts. Heck, the jury of public opinion had rendered its verdict 15 seconds after this report hit the nearest TV screen.
So Clemens' reputation has already gurgled down the drain. But if there's anyone out there who still believes in that old-fashioned innocent-until-proven-guilty stuff, you might want to read that Clemens section over one more time.
Not every commissioner would spend this much money to dredge up so many old wounds and inflict this much humiliation on his own sport. So give Bud Selig credit for that.
He knew this report would be gruesome, and he launched it all the same.
The Mitchell report makes several recommendations on how MLB can keep the game clean, and Bud Selig vows to make changes. He didn't even care how much it cost. He reiterated that one more time Thursday, when he answered a question about the outrageous price tag by saying: "There was a higher cost in not doing this."
"I didn't want somebody to say some day, 'What were they hiding?' " said Selig.
And now they won't. Theoretically.
So we'll salute the courage it took for the commish to plow ahead with this dubious exercise, against the advice of everyone around him. We sure hope some good comes of it.
But while this report never quite includes the words, "Bud Selig screwed up," it also casts a shadow from which the commissioner can't possibly escape.
After all, this sport, with its runaway drug culture, was Bud Selig's sport.
And this report, in laying out the history of this mess, supplies a timeline that makes it clear Selig should have been aware of steroids -- or at least asking penetrating questions -- years, if not a whole decade, before he did.
Yet when the commish was asked point-blank Thursday if he thought he was "at fault" in any way, he danced away from uttering anything even close to those words -- saying instead that "what we need to do is look forward now."
It wasn't exactly Mark McGwire saying he wasn't here to talk about the past. But it was definitely tough to miss the irony.
So if the commissioner thinks he's going to be exonerated because he empowered George Mitchell to collect 20 years of dirty laundry, ehhh, sorry, Bud.
"You can't be the commissioner of an institution that's diseased," said one baseball man Thursday, "and not take some responsibility. It's that simple."
The names in the Mitchell report just keep on coming.
Andy Pettitte ... Miguel Tejada ... Paul Lo Duca.
Lenny Dykstra ... Todd Hundley ... Kevin Brown.
And, of course, Bart Miadich ... Tim Laker ... and Josias Manzanillo.
It's those names that will keep the headline writers in business. It's those names that will feed the tabloid portion of all our brains. It's those names that are now stained forever.
OK, so maybe not all those names. "Does anybody really give a [hoot] whether Tim Laker or Josias Manzanillo did anything?" asked one baseball man.
Well, maybe Mrs. Laker and Mrs. Manzanillo. But good point. As for those other names, uh, it's time for a couple of questions about them.