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MLB steroid probe: big news or more yawns?

According to a report by ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney, when former Sen. George Mitchell releases the report on his investigation into steroids in major league baseball, it will be huge news. This information, Olney’s sources said, came in a conference call between all 30 teams and MLB lawyer Tom Carlucci. Carlucci is said to have told the teams that the report will include many names of players, names that haven’t previously been disclosed publicly, and names of well-known players.

On the surface, it sounds like a blockbuster of a report. However, the same article says that MLB vice president Rob Manfred indicated that Carlucci “is not even in a position to know specifically what has been generated by the Mitchell investigation” and that Carlucci basically told the teams to assume for planning purposes that there will be many names. Players’ union head Don Fehr said, “It is my understanding that no such decisions have been made, of written conclusions, or anything like that...There's only one person who knows the answers to that.” And Mitchell released a statement saying “The investigation has not been completed, and no decisions have been made about any aspect of the report.”

There are major questions about what information the report will include, what burden of proof will be used in naming a player as using performance enhancing drugs, and what sanctions (if any) can be taken by Bud Selig in response. Some names have already surfaced from an investigation by the district attorney in Albany, NY and MLB is considering suspensions as a result. Surely the union will challenge such suspensions.

So will the Mitchell report finally confirm people’s suspicions of widespread steroid use, or will it be so neutered as to be virtually meaningless? Apparently we’ll find out sometime during the offseason. -- Joe Guckin