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Steroid Report Puts New Focus on Baseball’s Future

A report released Thursday exposing widespread steroid use in baseball's highest ranks caused a massive media storm. The NewsHour discusses the recent revelations with two baseball experts.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And staying on that subject, the baseball scandal, day two and beyond, Margaret Warner has our coverage.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    A day after former Senator George Mitchell released that explosive report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, questions remain about the report's impact on the sport and how the so-called "steroids era" it describes will be viewed in the years ahead.

    Here to discuss those issues and more are Richard Justice, sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle, and sportswriter and author John Feinstein. He's working on a book about a year in the life of two veteran Major League pitchers.

    Welcome to you both.

    Richard Justice, how significant a blow is this to professional baseball?

  • RICHARD JUSTICE, The Houston Chronicle:

    Well, you know, in financial terms, the history shows that people keep buying tickets, that they liked homeruns, they enjoyed the steroid era as fans, but it's an embarrassment.

    And even more than that, you know, if you think sports is supposed to reflect a certain value and a social responsibility, you are sending a terrible message to high school boys and girls. And surveys show that steroid use is soaring among kids that age. And that is their responsibility, and that's on their conscience.

    One of the things Bud Selig was told in this whole thing was, "Commissioner, if you don't do something, people are going to die." And I think that's one of the things that has moved him to act.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Significant blow?

  • JOHN FEINSTEIN, Sportswriter:

    Absolutely, but a good thing. They needed to do this. It's like a cleansing act. That's why Bud Selig asked George Mitchell to put this report together, knowing full well that if it was done correctly, if he got lucky and found some people who would flip and talk — and he did, with the Mets clubhouse kid, Kirk Radomski, and with the trainer, McNamee, who talked about Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, who were the two new names in this who hadn't been named in some way before publicly — he knew that would happen.

    But baseball needed this, because, as Richard says, this has been going on for years. It has become an epidemic with young kids. And when Barry Bonds broke the homerun record this summer, and he was cheered, and Hank Aaron appeared on the message board, and the commissioner was there, what's the message to kids? The message is, "Cheating pays."

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