The first big question is about what this particular collection of names even represents. It's no definitive list. That's for sure. Even Mitchell concedes himself, early on, that the use of illegal substances was "not limited" to just these names.
Hey, ya think?
In fact, according to Sean Forman, of baseball-reference.com's amazing play index, 5,148 players have made it into at least one major league box score since 1985, the year Radomski went to work for the Mets.
So that means that precisely 1.67 percent of them made it into this report. Shockingly exclusive group, wouldn't you say?
And that leads to the next big question: If the list was that exclusive, shouldn't there have been way more evidence justifying the inclusion of the names that did make it?
Instead, as one baseball man put it, "I'm in a state of shock that he put some of these names in this report."
Take Brian Roberts, for example. Nobody in here has a bigger beef than he does. What's the "evidence" in his case? An alleged lunch date with Radomski, David Segui and Larry Bigbie -- after which Segui is said to have bought steroids (with Roberts not present). And Bigbie's claim that Roberts told him he used steroids "once or twice," even though Bigbie never witnessed it or even suspected it.
That's it. No syringes. No empty bottles. No shipping labels. Nada. I can't think of any self-respecting editor I've ever worked for or with who would have allowed me to write a news story based on "evidence" that flimsy. So what's it doing in a report that cost more than the Florida Marlins' entire payroll?
There are way too many instances of name-dropping much like this, with a blank check here or an address-book listing there, but no true corroboration anywhere. That, however, is because Mitchell admits that his star witness, Radomski, didn't "observe" or "participate" in the actual use of drugs by any of the 53 players he named.
Yet every player named has to carry that black mark around him for the rest of his life. Not that a large percentage of them aren't guilty -- of something. But if you read each account carefully, you'd have a hard time deciding which are and which aren't.
"The main points in this report are good," said one baseball man after reading it. "But he really could have written this, and drawn the same conclusions, without the names. And I wish he would have." --Unnamed baseball person.
George Mitchell could not have been more clear about one thing in this report.
He just about pleaded with Bud Selig, in writing, to resist the urge to start doling out suspensions to the "guilty."
The commish, however, has other ideas. He's going to "take action where he thinks it's appropriate."
That sounds like tough, decisive, commissioner-esque talk, all right. But the commish had better understand that if he chooses to go this route, he'll have a battle royale on his hands.
By our count, of the 86 players named, only eight were actually witnessed using any of these substances -- and five of them were in the minor leagues at the time, long before Selig implemented his minor league steroid program.
The other three -- Clemens, Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch -- are all linked to Brian McNamee. And the issues with his testimony were laid out in the Clemens' section of this column.
In the case of nearly every other player named, the only witness is Radomski. And he might be, well, unavailable -- for a long, long while.