Steroid Report: Was it Worth it?

"You think they're going to let Radomski out of a federal jail so he can testify in a Major League Baseball arbitration hearing?" asked one attorney. "I don't think so."

But there's an even more compelling reason for Selig to avoid the crime-and-punishment route than the potential unavailability of his biggest witness. And no one summed up that reason better than Mitchell himself.

"Spending months, or even years, in contentious disciplinary procedures," Mitchell wrote, "will keep everyone mired in the past."

And remember, "the important thing is to move forward."

Except it wasn't George Mitchell who made that last statement. It was the man determined to ignore it -- Bud Selig.

The Fight for a Better Tomorrow.

For all the flaws, the problems and the shortcomings of the Mitchell report, it deserves its due on one count -- the most important count of all, in fact.

The whole idea of this extravaganza was to point baseball toward a cleaner, brighter, better future. And the report does an admirable job of doing exactly that.

As it paints its picture of how this sport got itself into this quagmire, it's more than merely a tale of players looking for ways to beat the system.

It's a tale of high-ranking officials throughout baseball who had suspicions, or uncovered drug paraphernalia, or saw things they shouldn't have seen, or heard things they shouldn't have heard -- and did absolutely zilcho.

In some cases -- heck, in many cases -- it was because they thought nobody at MLB really cared. Or when they did try to take some action, nobody ever followed up.

Well, that has to change. And this report lays out a blueprint for how to make certain it does change.

There does need to be a full-time baseball steroid czar who will be available to follow every lead.

There does need to be a sport-wide edict that requires, in the report's words, "all information about possible use must be reported immediately and directly."

This sport does need a log of all the packages that get sent to big league clubhouses. This sport does need to start testing potential first-round draft picks.

And while this testing system may be on an equal footing now with those of the other pro sports (and superior in many respects), baseball does need to raise that bar, establish independent control and be more vigilant to establish more frequent, unannounced, year-round testing.

The clean players do, to quote the report, "deserve far better than they have had to endure." And now it's time for everyone -- from the commissioner to the union, from the GMs to the clubhouse men and, of course, for the players themselves -- to commit to making that happen.

Did Bud Selig really need to spend (pick a number) $20 million, $30 million, $50 million or whatever the heck this report cost to find all that out? We've all got our doubts about that, don't we?

But now, as Selig himself said, "I have to do something about it. ... And I think the sport will be better off."

Boy, let's hope so. After all the scars and shiners this report laid on the face of the great sport of baseball Thursday afternoon, let's all hope so.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," has been published by Triumph Books and is now available in bookstores.

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