What Others Are Saying

December 20, 2007

Former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell may not have hit a home run with last week's report on the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances by Major League Baseball players, but he at least swatted a line-drive single.

The report has its flaws: Mr. Mitchell had no subpoena power, and most players refused to participate, maintaining what the report terms "baseball's clubhouse `code of silence.'"

A good chunk of the report relies on phone and mail records, canceled checks or assertions from two nonplaying employees, a former clubhouse attendant with the New York Mets and a former strength coach with the New York Yankees. Some findings have already brought claims of "unsubstantiated allegations," and Mr. Mitchell himself concedes it is far from complete.

Overall, however, his report rings true as a snapshot of baseball's shameful steroids era. As Mr. Mitchell described it, "Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades - commissioners, club officials, the Players Association and players - shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era."

Those same parties must now share in fixing the problem, for the protection of the players, and those who look to the players as role models, and for the health of baseball as a business and as an American institution.

- Carolyn Warmbold, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Want to buy a special Christmas gift for a child, especially one in poverty?

Buy a good book he or she will enjoy reading.

I am writing on this subject because I had the pleasure of hearing Doris Lessing's recent Nobel lecture that focused on the importance of reading, especially in the lives of writers. Ms. Lessing described a visit with the headmaster of an impoverished school in rural Zimbabwe: "As I sit with my friend in his room, people drop shyly in, and all, everyone begs for books. `Please send us books when you get back to London,' one man said. `They taught us to read but we have no books.' Everybody I met, everyone, begged for books."

- Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times

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