Mitchell Madness; Big Baby Lends a Hand

(Morning links provided by guest blogger T.J. Donegan. Comments/Criticisms/Loving Admiration can be sent here.)

MLB is going to dump blood in the collective water when Senator George Mitchell’s report on the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball is finally released this afternoon.

Speculation has run amok in the last few days about what will and won’t be in the report, but you can see for yourself (if you want to crank through the 400 pages) at MLB.com this afternoon, where it should be made available shortly after the start of Sen. Mitchell’s 2 PM EST news conference, with Selig and MLB responding with a news conference themselves later in the afternoon.

More and more, this report is looking like it has been a stop-gap measure by MLB, paying lip service to Congress. The fact is that this does not have a positive spin for baseball, with the general feel that this was an investigation done by the league, by a person who has deep ties to more than one club’s ownership, deep ties to Commissioner Bud Selig, and will not have the far-reaching effects some hoped it would 20 months ago. Without the windfall of Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski being forced as part of a plea agreement to talk to Mitchell, this report could just be 400 pictures of a brick wall.

One aspect that will certainly continue to get play in the coming days will be Mitchell’s ties to the Red Sox. Mitchell was a paid director for the Red Sox for years prior to the investigation and should resume that position in the coming months. This is clearly a conflict of interest, with many baseball executives expressing exactly that concern, and should have precluded him from being appointed for this job.

But quite simply, who in baseball circles doesn’t have long-standing ties to the league or the union? In a world where the World Wide Leader is owned by the same company that owns the Angels, where the same company owns the Boston Globe and part of the Red Sox, conflicts of interests are everywhere. Congress is the only group that can step in with the least prejudice and, with the full power of the law behind them, get at the whole truth. Yes, that’s a worst-case-scenario, but that’s exactly what’s at baseball’s doorstep.

Obviously it’s almost all speculation this morning but here’s a quick roundup of the opinion on what the report will contain:

Lester Munson has a Q&A (with himself, I guess?) about the investigation and its legal consequences. T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada have sources that state the blame will be “shared” by both the players’ union and the league office. For ESPN Insider, Buster Olney’s blog talks about the lack of closure of the Mitchell investigation.

Phil Rodgers of the Chicago Tribune adds that the union is likely to appeal any suspensions that come as a result of the report. Michael Petraglia sought out Curt Schilling of all people to get his opinion on what might be in the report. Gerry Fraley at the Sporting News thinks the report’s consequences will be minimal.

Jon Heyman files his opinion on the Mitchell Report for SI.com, saying he believes it could be a bombshell, although I don’t think he knows what the word “painstaking” means. Steve Silva’s Extra Bases for boston.com talks about Schilling’s belief that more than one big name will be revealed in the report, and wouldn’t be surprised if Red Sox players were named. Michael Silverman goes deeper into that possibility. Amalie Benjamin files her own report on the Mitchell investigation. The Big Lead wonders if we’ll see some extra names from the “1994 Amazin’ Squad” that Radomski worked as a clubhouse attendant for.

The only hard news about the report so far is the APs report that it will include the names of MVPs and All-Stars. All-Stars? MVPs?! Those couldn’t be Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, could they? The AP has gotten so sensationalist with their leads lately. I hope it’s someone nobody expects though, like Rollie Fingers. Him and his crazy ‘stache. Mitchell needs to bring him down a peg or two.

In other news, Theo Epstein’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy last night. Congratulations to the Epsteins on their first child, let’s hope he’s a five-tool shortstop, we could really use one of those.

Also, the Sox declined to tender reliever Brendan Donnelly, making the 36-year old a free agent. Amalie Benjamin files a short report.

Not much about the team itself today, with little grist for the rumor mill and most of the local talent focused on this afternoon’s festivities.

Patriots

Well what do you know? Spygate has life after all. Or as the immortal John Clayton said last night “[this issue] won’t go away because we won’t let it go away…it’s too good of a drama.” Nothing but the facts from the WWL, as always. It turns out that last season the Jets were caught videotaping at Gillette as far back as 2006. The Pats expelled the cameraman and didn’t report the offense to the league (which would certainly explain why Belichick has gone Ahab on the league this year).

Different circumstances, and it doesn’t mitigate what the Patriots were doing this year, but the team could still have reported the incident to the league and didn’t. I think the line in Vegas jumped 10 points when Belichick was told about that one.

The AP copy out of New York has been the only one run on the most sites, it sums things up pretty well.
John Tomase offers a little extra insight, however. Mike Reiss has the Jets not being punished by the league. So we just had to film from the stands, then? It should be noted that this rule is included in the NFL Game Operations Manual. That’d be the same Manual that also has rules regarding how much coffee and sliced oranges the home team must provide to the visitors.

Head on over to Patriots Daily where Dan Snapp looks at the Patriot passing game so far this season.

John Tomase stirs the controversy by examining Mangini’s comments about offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Tomase then gives us five things to keep an eye on for the game on Sunday. Karen Guregian has teams actively avoiding throwing at Asante Samuel, when possible.

Jeff Jacobs at the Courant questions whether the Patriots should be all-day or all class against the hapless Jets. David Heuschkel tracks Brady as the reigns in several single-season passing records.
Karen Guregian says the Patriots shouldn’t concern themselves with the weather report for Sunday’s game.
The Herald also offers a quick rundown of how Tom Terrific has performed in snow games so far in his career.
Ian M. Clark has the Patriots ignoring the media circus. Jim Donaldson says it’s almost time for the Patriots to get their revenge on the Jets. Robert Lee has Belichick wary of the Jets and their firepower going into Sunday’s game, even though the scores shouldn’t be close.

Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots players mum on the revenge talk.

Celtics

The Celtics cruised to a 90-78 win over the Kings last night on the back of Glen Davis, who picked up 16 points and nine rebounds to take their overall record to 18-2. Three Boston Celtics teams have started 18-2 previously, with all three making the NBA Finals.

Davis got some extra press this week as well, as John Hollinger over at ESPN has him as tops in his Player Efficiency rankings of rookies. David Thorpe at Scouts, Inc has Davis as the #5 rookie so far this season, including the relatively ancient minor-league veteran Jamario Moon. For a guy who fell as far as Davis did, it’s been great to see him get even that high, although you have to wonder if he’d get higher if he was getting 30 minutes a game like some guys on that list.

Rajon Rondo also got some national media love with Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen dedicating his Inside the NBA piece to the second-year point guard and how his game has developed so far.

Gary Dzen’s blog at the Globe has some good stuff on Big Baby’s impact last night in his first career start. Mark Murphy also talks about Davis’ reaction to his first NBA start. Jeff Howe talks about the win last night, as well. Steve Bulpett also adds a roundup of last night’s game.


Lenny Magliola
has more on the win and the reversal of the Celtics’ fortunes as of late.
The fourth installment of A Celtics Blogger Christmas Carol is also up at BSMW full-court press.

Bruins

The Bruins pulled out a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers last night. Head on over to Bruins Links to get your roundup of the day’s media reaction.

That’ll wrap it up for me today. Expect a lot of afternoon activity on your favorite blogs from around the web as the report drops later today. Have a good one.

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