Stuck in the Shadows

. Thursday, December 13, 2007
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On Thursday, “The Mitchell Report” was released, a 409-page report into Major League Baseball's steroid problem, compiled by former United States senator George Mitchell after a 21-month investigation.

The report promised to name names and that it certainly did. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Eric Gagne, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada and Gary Sheffield are the big ones.

For all the talk that will consume baseball about the steroid era and the players that have been exposed as being key players in it, it's important to recognize where it all began.

In March of 2006, a book called “Game of Shadows” was released after much hype and controversy. The book, written by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, was the product of a two-year investigation into BALCO, its founder Victor Conte and Greg Anderson, who served as a personal trainer to Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

Make no mistake, Jose Canseco brought the steroid issue to the eye of the public. We all laughed when he talked about what a steroid problem baseball had and that he knew of specific players who had used. Canseco got the ball rolling, but Fainaru-Wada and Williams took the ball and ran with it and uncovered damning evidence against a man who was considered possibly the greatest player in baseball history.

That book is the reason that Barry Bonds is currently on trial. It's the reason that George Mitchell decided to launch this investigation into baseball's steroid problem and its the reason that the athletes named in this report have been exposed for using performance enhancing drugs.

We all knew there was a problem before the book was released, but nobody was willing to do anything about it. Before “Game of Shadows” was released, Bud Selig, baseball owners, general manager's, players and fans buried their heads in the sand and pretended like nothing was wrong.

Fainaru-Wada and Williams put their reputations and careers on the line to get this information out to the public and as a Journalism student, that is something that I have nothing but respect for.

It's easy to forget that they helped pop the cork on baseball's steroid problem, and 20 years from now the names of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams will probably never even cross the mind of most people, but they'll be the first two names out of my mouth when I tell my children about how baseball's big guns were brought to their knees.