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Sunday, October 08, 2006
George Mitchell and the Competing Roles of Internal Investigations and Criminal Prosecutions

Charles Pierce of the Boston Globe has a very interesting and lengthy (~4,000 words) piece today on former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who was Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995 and who MLB Commissioner Bud Selig recently tapped to head an internal MLB investigation into past steroid use by MLB players ("Does George Mitchell have the Juice?," 10/8/2006). Pierce supplies an engaging biographical survey of Mitchell, including background on his role in the Iran-Contra Senate hearings, his work in helping to broker a peace accord in Northern Ireland, his investigation into corruption at the 2002 Olympic Games, his experience as a private attorney in both Maine and Washington D.C., and his current role with the Boston Red Sox as team director. No matter what you think of his politics, the 73-year-old Mitchell has lived an extraordinary life, especially when considering his humble origins--his father was a day laborer and his mother was textile worker who had emigrated from Lebanon, and Mitchell paid his own way through Bowdoin College and Georgetown University Law Center.

But as Pierce notes, Mitchell's current challenge--figuring out which players used steroids and how they obtained them--might prove to be his toughest, at least in terms of demanding results. As Pierce details, Mitchell's investigation appears to be having difficulty gathering information: criminal prosecutions of baseball players, and the threat of those prosecutions, have discouraged players from speaking with Mitchell out of fear that such information could be shared with federal investigators. This dynamic supplies what I think is an interesting interplay between internal investigations and criminal investigations, both of which seek the same information, but the success of the former may depend on the absence of the latter.

Our blog has plenty of good past coverage on steroids and MLB and Mitchell's investigation, but be sure to check out Charlie Pierce's excellent story as well.

Note: pictured above, from left to right, Michael Dukakis (Massachusetts Governor from 1975-79 and 1983-1991 and Democratic Presidential nominee in 1988), Mitchell, and Larry Lucchino (president and C.E.O of the Boston Red Sox). A picture of Ted Williams rests behind them.


Without subpoena power this investigation has little chance for success.

Competitive individuals are going to to what is necessary to compete with others they perceive to be attempting to gain an advantage.

Baseball has made some strides in the issue of performance enhancing substances but they have a way to go.

For now, technology is on the side of the athletes.

Anonymous Richard Mock -- 10/08/2006 8:52 PM  

Nice post.

Blogger Lummpy -- 10/09/2006 1:18 AM  

What the hell shirt is Dukakis wearing?

Anonymous Collin -- 10/09/2006 2:28 PM  

Thanks for these comments.

Richard: I agree, the lack of subpoena power might derail MLB's efforts, especially given the context of a separate criminal investigation taking place.

Lummpy: Thanks for your kind words.

Collin: I had a similar reaction! But I still think it's a cool picture, considering who's in it.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 10/10/2006 1:57 PM  

You should have a Sports Law Blog contest to see which of your readers can accurately judge the collective eyebrow weight of the people pictured in the photo (could be tricky, since Teddy Ballgame's eyebrows are not clearly depicted).

I still wonder whether Selig cares whether he gets an end-product from this investigation. Baseball men, like politicians, seem to have elevated the value of perception over reality. If it appears baseball is trying to solve the problem, we'll all slump back in our easy chairs and watch the Tigers crush the Yankees without any wry comments about Jason Giambi.

Blogger ChapelHeel -- 10/11/2006 9:08 AM  

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