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Saturday (Early) Morning Mets Newsstand

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Not a heck of a lot of Mets news to report, but there are a couple of very interesting articles published recently about the forthcoming Mitchell steroid investigation and the "Mitchell Report", the would-be payoff of an eighteen month investigation conducted by former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell.

The first is by John Brattain at Sympatico MSN (you might also know John from his great work at The Hardball Times). John talks about the Mitchell Report as a plan hatched by Bud Selig with the intention of depressing the cost of player salaries by (possibly) bringing to light their rampant abuse of performance enhancers. Two really interesting points:

Various players have estimated that between 50-80% of major leaguers have juiced at some point in their career. If the Mitchell report confirms these figures were in the ballpark, do these change our view of recent steroid pariahs like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro? After all, they accomplished their various milestones on a reasonably even playing field.
Do Bonds (et al) opponents lose a bit of their ammunition if it is revealed that he accomplished such Herculean feats of strength against (and alongside) players of similar goosed-up-edness? I have to think so. I fall comfortably between "indifferent" and "ambivalent" with respect to the whole PED backlash. I'm neither a baseball purist nor a player's apologist; I guess I just don't feel strongly about this or that player's steroid use, good or bad. That said, I can understand why people get extremely worked up over it (see: Marc Ecko), even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

The other point John made had to do with amphetamine use and what I like to think of as the quantity (amphetamines) versus quality (steroids) facet of the PED explosion and its affect on the game and hits record books.

If exhaustion, minor illnesses, hangovers or other factors require absent amphetamines, say 7-10 games off per year and a player had around a 20-year career then amphetamines gave that player as many as 200 extra games. If most players used this drug then did it affect membership in the 3000 hit club? Deduct 140-200 games from their careers and chances are Cal Ripken (3,184 hits), George Brett (3,154 hits), Robin Yount (3,142 hits), Tony Gwynn (3,141 hits), Dave Winfield (3,110 hits), Craig Biggio, (3,060 hits), Rickey Henderson (3,055 hits), Rod Carew (3053 hits), Lou Brock, (3,023 hits), Rafael Palmeiro (3,020 hits), Wade Boggs (3,010 hits), Al Kaline (3,007 hits) and Roberto Clemente (3,000 hits) fall short (assuming amphetamine use).
Amphetamine use has really taken a back seat to steroid use as far as the media coverage and fan outcry is concerned, but former Met Mike Cameron's recent suspension may be a harbinger of things to come.

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Last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports ran a piece, also about the Mitchell Report, and questioned the impartiality of it considering that Mitchell is in the employ of the Boston Red Sox. The article surfaced around the time it was revealed that Indians' pitcher Paul Byrd had purchased $25,000 worth of HGH, a report published by the San Francisco Chronicle on the morning of Game 7 of the ALCS between Boston and Cleveland. The timing was curious to say the least, though Mitchell denies any involvement in that particular report.

Rosenthal says:

Regardless, Mitchell is the issue. He is affiliated not only with the Red Sox but also is chairman of ESPN's parent company, the Walt Disney Company. Disney, like Fox, is in business with MLB.

I shouldn't need to point all this out a year-and-a-half into an investigation. Players shouldn't have to be worry about it, either. After all, if anyone should be sensitive to the appearance of conflict, it's a former U.S. Senator. But Mitchell has scoffed at such talk, promising a fair, thorough investigation. Selig has been equally dismissive, speaking repeatedly of the senator's "impeccable credentials."

There is a serious conflict of interest here and, though nobody really doubts the veracity of Mitchell's investigation, there are definitely some red flags shooting up.

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Ed Kranepool is suing the Long Island Jewish Medical Center for using his name, photo, and details of his 2005 shoulder surgery and recovery on a fundraising postcard the hospital distributed to 25,000 New York area households. Steady Eddie claims that he never gave his permission for that information to appear on the postcard and is sueing the hospital for $12 million. The fundraiser generated $5,000.

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Former Mets Gary Carter and Wally Backman are candidates for the managerial vacancy of the Lancaster Barnstormers. After failing to find the team in MiLB.com's team list, I finally figured who the hell they were thanks to Wikipedia.

The Lancaster Barnstormers are an Atlantic League team based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since the 2005 season, they have played in the South Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
Carter turned down a job managing the Double-A Binghamton Mets last year, which apparently turned out not to be such a brilliant career move.
"That turned out to be my only chance," Carter said.

"It's the decision I made and I regret that I made it. I have no ill feelings toward the Mets. I'm obviously disappointed with the way things are. I know that the game is funny in that regard. It's not what you know. It's who you know."

Despite walking away from the Mets' offer last year, I have to think that they would still be happy to have him in their organization somewhere.

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At SI.com, Bill James previews his Young Baseball Inventory from the forthcoming edition of his baseball annual. David Wright clocks in at #3; Jose Reyes at #7.

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At his blog 38 Pitches, the free agent Curt Schilling publishes the letter that Theo Epstein & Co. sent to the Schillings in advance of their now-famous Thanksgiving dinner/pow-wow that eventually led to Schilling waiving that no-trade clause that allowed him to pass from the Diamondbacks to the Red Sox. The letter serves as an interesting window into the courtship that would follow and a union that would eventually help lead the Sox to their first World Series title in more than 85 years.