December 13, 2007, 15 years ago today: Twenty months in the making and 409 pages long, the Mitchell Report is released with its findings on the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. The investigation was headed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, hired by commissioner Bud Selig to examine the infamous Steroids Era. There were 89 players implicated in the report, the most significant of whom was one of baseball’s all-time great pitchers, Roger Clemens.
The inquiry was partly spurred by a 2003 book titled “Game of Shadows” by two San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters, zeroing in on steroids and human growth hormone allegedly used by Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. All three were named in the Mitchell Report, as were Andy Pettite and Miguel Tejada. In 2010, Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids when he broke baseball’s single-season home run record in 1998.
The Hall of Fame fallout from the Steroids Era is significant. Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro all have Hall of Fame credentials but have been tied to PEDs or tested positive for them, and none have come close to election into the shrine. Rodriguez still has nine years of eligibility left on the ballot, but his first-year vote percentage of 34.3 was lower than that of Bonds (36.2) and Clemens (37.6) on their first tries.
Today, MLB thinks it has the PED problem reigned in. The first positive test now results in an 80-game suspension, the second covers 162 games (the equivalent of a full season), and the third positive results in a lifetime suspension from baseball. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal that came to light in 2013. It not only cost Rodriguez a shot at baseball’s all-time home run crown, it kept him from reaching 700 career homers (he finished with 696).
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)