Fan reaction: 'It's about time'

The use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball was the hot topic of discussion among local sports fans yesterday, with reactions to the information contained in the Mitchell Report ranging from surprise at the names involved to empathy for the accused.

"I was shocked to see so many current and former Orioles on the list," said Patrick Geiman, 28, who was following the news on television at a sports bar. "I'm sure there are a lot more players out there using who weren't on the list."

That list seemed to dominate much of the conversation, with many fans sharing Geiman's amazement at some of the players who were implicated.

As names like Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts flashed across the television, several heads began shaking in disbelief. Not everyone was caught off-guard, however.

"I don't think that, pitching at 43 years old, it's shocking to see Roger Clemens involved with this," said David Powell, a 34-year-old bartender and Orioles fan who had been monitoring the news all afternoon during the lull between the lunch crowd and happy hour. "Maybe baseball will test them a little harder now."

How the sport tests going forward will be up to the commissioner's office and the players association, who must agree on any changes. Some fans feel those two groups are as much to blame as anyone for the "steroid era" the game is trying to move away from.

"Instead of pointing fingers at the players, we should point the finger at the commissioner's office," said Nicole Phipps, 27, a longtime Chicago Cubs fan who gathered with friends after work for happy hour. "You allow people to cheat for a long time and then once people get upset about it, then you are going to go back and punish people for it? That doesn't seem fair."

She added the Mitchell Report was a step in the right direction. "It's about time that they spent some time and money investigating it," Phipps said.

Joe Shiels, on the other hand, reacted with disgust at the mere mention of the players association's role in cleaning up the sport.

"The union ... they are out of it," he said, motioning with his left thumb for emphasis. "They should bring in a separate unit to oversee this operation, totally independent."

The New York Yankees fan said he was not in favor of punishment for any of the active players on the list, saying they did what they felt was necessary in order to remain competitive.

"I don't agree with it," Shiels said between sips of his beer. "But that's what they had to do to play."

Baseball's owners did not come away from yesterday's events unscathed, either, at least from the fans' standpoint. Some said baseball wouldn't be in this mess if the owners had managed to put concern for their players' health ahead of profits.

"I don't think any of this really matters until they get rid of the owners," said Steve Cook Jr., 33, who referenced the Kansas City Royals inking Jose Guillen to a 3-year, $36 million contract despite recent reports that he had been involved in the purchase of hGH in the past. "They sign the paychecks."

In addition to local taverns, Web message boards were also a popular place for people to express their feelings. Some questioned whether Roberts got a fair deal, while others wondered whether Clemens would receive the same kind of negative treatment by the media Barry Bonds has.

"Bonds has been the scapegoat for years," said a fan on a baltimoresun.com message board. "Let's see if the media goes easy on Clemens."

"I can't control the media," rebutted user ESMD. "What I can tell you is Clemens [and the others in the report, including past and current Orioles] are in the same class as Bonds in my book."


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