Off Base
Pitchers and Catchers and Mitchell Report

February 21, 2010, 2:05 p.m. Well folks, we're another week into 2010, with another weird signing by the Dodgers to shake our heads about.

With the team moral compass apparently supporting a wobbly desk leg in Jamie McCourt's old office, the Dodgers brought in domestic abuser Brian Giles (see previous diatribe here) last week. And with the ink not yet dry on that silly contract, the club acquired drug cheat Eric Gagne just the other day. On purpose.

Two abusers sporting minimal baseball skills, neither with much of a chance to make the club, and two minor league deals. So why bother? Got me, pal. I'm a Ned Colletti guy generally, but these are just odd signings.

Forgetting Manny for a minute, and taking the club at its word that they didn't know, consider this: In three consecutive seasons, finding their roster minus a player either suspended elsewhere or branded by the Mitchell Report, the Dodgers went out and got one. Gary Bennett, Jr. – bad baseball player, couldn't throw – in 2008, Guillermo Mota – better player, could throw (mostly) – in 2009. And Gagne – marginal player in 2010, can't throw nearly as well as he used to, probably won't last a majority of spring games before crumbling to the ground in a heap.

But more importantly, and lest we forget for a millisecond, excluding a bio paragraph, here's the section of the Mitchell Report devoted to Eric Gagne.

"Paul Lo Duca and Gagné were teammates with the Dodgers from 1999 to 2004. Although he is not sure when, [Former Mets' staffer and performance enhancing drug dealer, Kirk] Radomski recalled that Lo Duca called Radomski and told Radomski that Gagné was with him and wanted to buy human growth hormone. Gagné then came onto the phone and asked Radomski a question about how to get air out of a syringe. This is the only time Radomski spoke to Gagné. Radomski said that Lo Duca thereafter placed orders on Gagné’s behalf.

Radomski said that he mailed two shipments to Gagné, each consisting of two kits of human growth hormone. One was sent to Gagné’s home in Florida; the other was sent to Dodger Stadium. Federal agents seized from Radomski’s home a copy of an Express Mail receipt showing a shipment to “Dodger Stadium, c/o Eric Gagne – L.A. Dodgers Home Club, 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles, California 90012” dated August 9, 2004. A copy of this receipt is included in the Appendix and is shown below. Radomski said that this was for one of the shipments of human growth hormone to Gagné.

Lo Duca paid Radomski for one of the shipments to Gagné by cashier’s check in the amount of $3,200. The Lo Duca checks supplied by Radomski reflect two payments of $3,200 (each the cost of two kits) within a six-week time frame during the summer of 2004.

Radomski said that, on one other occasion, Gagné sent Radomski $3,200 in cash by FedEx.

According to notes of the October 2003 meetings of Dodgers officials, it was reportedly said of Gagné that: “he probably takes medication and tendons and ligaments don’t build up just the muscle.”

When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné’s possible use of steroids. In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, “Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?”

The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded, 'Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff…Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did…Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne.'

In order to provide Gagné with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he declined."

The "I" in the above sentence refers to George Mitchell. No explanation for the use of the accent egout over the "e" in Gagne' throughout provided.

Below is a graphic of the Express Mail receipt referenced earlier.

The one potential positive I can see for the Gagne signing lies in the chance, however remote, that a ballplayer – any ballplayer – might come up with a genuine explanation slash apology for his PED use.

If Tony LaRussa had something like that in mind with Mark McGwire, Mac booted the chance something awful. Gagne was always a likable, soft spoken guy, so it's not far-fetched to think he might try, and actually mean it.

And wouldn't that be a nice way to go out? Make one last stand on the mound, with a better one at the podium, and then exit head held high, knowing he'd done the right thing. Knowing he'd done something no other man had done. Not really. Tell me that wouldn't be the best save conversion of a once proud career.

Note: After drafting this column Saturday (yes, I actually ponder this stuff before posting) and letting it sit overnight, I caught T.J. Simers' column on Gagne this morning, in which the relief pitcher gave one of the better mea culpas by a major leaguer to date, and IBWAA member Tony Jackson's ESPNLosAngeles piece, in which he didn't.

So I'll add that it's a start for Gagne. Good for him. Better if Gagne were to continue his amends upon being cut from the roster, immediately after, with no baseball opportunities in front of him, further separating himself from the likes of Mark McGwire.

So what if Gagne's tired of talking about it. No one's asking him to return the Cy Young Award, or the last $20 million L.A. paid him to accomplish absolutely nothing. Would apologizing till he's Dodger blue in the face be the end of the world? Please.

I still think it's important to consider what's done, even though it's done, and the words of the Mitchell Report ought to be part of the equation moving forward, for a baseball team and the responsible fan. The column has been left virtually unchanged from the first draft…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Divorce Court: I've tried to keep the Mr. and Mrs. Dodgers material to a minimum this offseason, primarily because it's being written about everywhere else ad infinitum. And because the only thing I'm confident relating about it is that I think Los Angeles will be breaking in new owners this time next year.

But I will repeat something I've been saying for years – here and here in particular – football at Chavez Ravine is a great idea, and Mr. McCourt is right to pursue it. If Peter O'Malley were as dynamic a man as Frank McCourt, or Walter O'Malley for that matter, the Los Angeles Football Dodgers would be a reality already…

Media Savvy: Sorry I didn't get to this earlier. Jon Weisman put the what to replace the playing of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" in the middle of the eighth inning question out there weeks ago and I had the simple answer immediately. Remember the Sombrero Song, also known as the Mexican Hat Dance, played mid-eighth by Helen Dell for years?

With actress and "Anchors Aweigh" star Kathryn Grayson's passing last week, I remembered where else I'd heard the song. And here it is, from one of the great L.A. movies of all time, with Gene Kelly doing his thing.


Ronald Belisario Late to Camp: Begs the question, how about this for a slogan? "Visa problems. They're everywhere you want to be."

Statue for Sandy: I wish I could tell you we were getting closer, but in all honesty, it's a challenge. With the Koufax & Torre Safe At Home Nokia Theater event coming next Saturday (tickets still available), and figuring this as good a time as any, I suggested Simers ask Sandy how he felt about the prospective statue.

In addition to the question being a good one, I thought giving the audience a chance to roar in approval might just be all the coaxing required for Sandy to say "aw, what the hay, yes!"

But alas, Simers responded with a simple "no interest" sentence, followed by the obligatory drivel about Sandy and his privacy, etc. Only, he didn't say it quite so nicely.

So the Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend. We're undaunted. Together, we'll make it happen...

Remember, glove conquers all….









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