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Astros' Statement Does Not Go Far Enough

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If you hadn't seen it, Drayton McLane has released his comment on the Mitchell report through the Astros website.

It's short, and it's hardly original, so I hope the Astros and Mr. McLane don't mind my reproducing it in its entirety here:

Now that the Mitchell Report has been released, the Houston Astros are currently reviewing its contents. The Astros support the process that has taken place to compile this report, as well as the recommendations offered by Senator George Mitchell.

As we move forward, we will continue to strongly support the testing program agreed upon by the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association. We feel this program is an effective step in eradicating the use of performance-enhancing substances, and we continue to support this endeavor 100 percent. We also wish to thank Senator Mitchell for his efforts.

I comprehend that a 311-page document is not digested immediately, so the idea that the Astros must review its contents is certainly understandable.

But as an Astros fan, as I myself do the reviewing of today's news, I have several concerns that the Astros' press release leave unaddressed.

The first thing I worry about is how my favorite team, the franchise to which I devote my heart and my time and my dollars, has all of a sudden acquired a reputation as a haven for steroids users.

How did this happen? You don't choose the team you follow--it's much more involved than that--but if I had chosen franchises to follow, I would have chosen the Houston Astros because of their belief--at the VERY least during the McLane regime--that character is an important component in a ballplayer.

While I make no claims at moral perfection myself, I don't think it is unreasonable for me to say that this belief in the importance of character is fundamental to my fandom.

Yet, strangely, now the team that has asked its fans to "root for the good guys" for the past two years can count in its ranks and in its alumni a bevy of players who at the very least are seriously implicated in a sport-wide movement to cheat the game, and its fans.

Roger Clemens is entitled to scream his innocence, but for right now it appears that the club's last Cy Young winner--and the absolute key to the Astros' only NL pennant--has been guilty of cheating. And as things stand right now, that same Cy Young winner will be representing the Houston Astros to young players for the next ten years. Do I as a fan want that? Do the Astros as a team want that? This is a complicated issue, but I believe Mr. McLane as CEO should weigh in on this matter.

Andy Pettitte doesn't have a personal services contract with the team, nor does it appear he wants anything to do with the Astros at all. But he has left a legacy with the team, most notably as the team's 2005 Pitcher of the Year. And now, of course, as a steroids user, as well. My question for McLane with Pettitte might be, what could the Astros have done to have screened our applicants, so to speak, a little better? I'd not suggest that the Astros knew Pettitte was cheating, or had cheated, when they signed him, but I would ask, what might we have done to ascertain that fact a little better? Wasn't there anything the club could have done to realize that they were hiring a cheater?

And now our new shortstop wrote checks for thousands of dollars worth of HGH. Great.

Five prospects, good young men, good young players, gone, in exchange for a cheat. With Tejada, what I want to know, Mr, McLane, quite bluntly, is can this trade be annulled? Given the fact we now know within reasonable doubt that our new shortstop is a cheat and a criminal, can't we send him back whence he came?

I honestly can't figure out how I'd get all that excited watching a known HGH user clean up for the Astros in 160 games next year.

Given my past support of the club, through stadium changes, ownership changes, through managerial changes, through losing seasons, and through bad trades, I'll probably figure something out, but right now, I wanna go watch a movie or something, I want to read a book, anything but think about baseball.

I don't even wanna look at any of my 22,000 Astro baseball cards, and those who know me, know that's saying quite a bit.

I can only hope that attittude changes before April, and if any other fans share my feelings, the club had better hope so, too.

Some fans have expressed relief or even joy that two of the Astros' icons, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, were not named in the Mitchell report. And given the nature of rumor, and that these days, we are all certain to hear even the most vicious of them, we should be happy that these false tales about great players and good men were not proven true. But overall, today's news was bad, very bad, for the franchise.

When outside parties look in, they see that the Astros have employed as many high-profile steroids cheats as any team in baseball, from "pioneers" like the now-deceased Ken Caminiti to players as new as yesterday. And if Chris Donnels and Stephen Randolph aren't household names, they still are able to reinforce the idea among those who know no better that Houston has not only tolerated cheating, they have long done so. It's a poor reputation to acquire, and one that distresses me as a fan when I spend any time at all thinking about it.

It threatens my fandom.

Mr. McLane, we all "strongly support the testing program agreed upon by the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association."

But what can you tell us about this franchise we all love so much? Why were these cheaters here? Why are they still here? When will they leave?

I don't claim to represent all fans, but I'd guess at least half your fans want to know.