It would be great if we could say that Major League Baseball put a big punctuation mark on the sport's long-running steroid scandal, but I'll settle for the right decision at the right time for the right reasons.
The agreement announced yesterday by baseball management and the players union - amending the sport's drug policy yet again and closing the disciplinary book on the Mitchell Report - probably won't stop the next generation of cheaters from using the next generation of illegal substances. There's no way to make that guarantee, even with a stronger testing regimen and a flexible policy that can evolve with the rogue science, in an outside world where the chief architect of the most high-profile steroid distribution scandal in history (Victor Conte) rated only a four-month prison sentence.
This was more about finally putting this whole tawdry mess in the rearview mirror. The Mitchell Report was supposed to provide some measure of closure to a decade of steroid suspicion and recrimination but instead threatened to turn the scandal into a soap opera with the staying power of Days of Our Lives.
Fortunately, commissioner Bud Selig changed his mind about trying to discipline the dozens of players named in the report on a case-by-case basis because there was nothing to be gained from that except the negative publicity that would come with each disciplinary announcement and ensuing union grievance. Mitchell recognized that and recommended in the report that no individual disciplinary action be taken against the offending players.
Give Selig some credit for using that threat as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the union that toughened the performance-enhancement policy going forward, but I'm just happy that he finally saw the big picture.
Now, as soon as everyone finishes reading Vindicated, we can all get on with our lives.