When it first hit the streets, last week’s story about the former New York Mets clubhouse worker who agreed to go all stoolie on the players for whom he used to secure steroids and the like seemed like a big damn deal.
The day after it broke, more than a few media outlets suggested that it would be the single most significant development in the ongoing Major League Baseball-sponsored George Mitchell investigation, which is supposed to reveal once and for all exactly how many of our hardball heroes were cheating during the Steroids Era.
The day after that,a nation of fans essentially shrugged its shoulders, rolled its eyes, dropped a derisive “whatever” and quickly moved on.
Why? Because deep in the heart of any baseball fan with a half-functioning brain, it’s long been accepted that a vast majority of what we saw from the late 1980s to the early 2000s was the product of pharmaceutical advancement.
That middle reliever who suddenly made the All-Star team with a 97-mph fastball after having spent the previous 10 seasons in the minors? We’ve come to realize that he wasn’t a feel-good story. He was a desperate man who sold his baseball soul.
The bulked-up second baseman who went from punch-and-judy to pounding balls 30 rows deep? We now understand that the resistance training and egg-white shakes to which he attributed his new level of fitness were bogus. The only resistance involved was his lack thereof when some shady, back-acne-riddled, ancillary clubhouse character offered him some magic pills.
We know, without a doubt, that this former Mets employee, this dealer-turned-stoolie, as well as the Mitchell investigation, isn’t going to tell us a single thing we aren’t already quite certain of.
Baseball was dirty for a good long time. Might be just as dirty to this day, even, albeit a different kind of dirty. To quote the great Austin Powers, “All right, Vanessa, I get it. I have bad teeth.”
In other words, enough already. We know, we know, we know. And as such, we don’t want to know.
Right now, we suspect everyone. Even the skinny pitchers. And as sad as it is, they’re all guilty until proven innocent. But there’s no way to prove their innocence. And with the exception of blood tests and urine tests and videotape, there’s no way to prove their guilt, either.
Unless you want to take a drug dealer looking for a lighter sentence at his word.
This isn’t to suggest that we should just forget all about the Steroids Era. It’d be great if some big names came out, copped to their ills and tried to dissuade America’s youth from going down that same sordid road.
But let’s get real. Names aren’t going to change anything. Nor will punishments or asterisks or anything else that might come about in the wake of more detailed knowledge.
It’ll just make a lot of us feel a little bit worse about having been duped by those who were doped. Time to move on.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).