Selig, who was named interim Commissioner to replace Fay Vincent on Sept. 7, 1992 and was formally given the position on July 8, 1998, may have staked part of his legacy of his more than 15 years in the office on the breadth of Mitchell's report."I told you a year ago March [when the Mitchell committee was formed] that I never wanted anybody to say we were trying to hide anything," Selig said during the World Series in October. "I don't have anything to hide. None of us do. I want it to be said at some point that we dealt with everything forthrightly." At the end of a year in which MLB set records for attendance (79.5 million) and gross revenue ($6.025 billion), Mitchell's report could begin to put to rest the discussion of steroid use in the sport that has been considerable for much of the past decade. Or it could leave questions unanswered and further fuel the discussion. Selig commissioned the report on March 30, 2006, under pressure from congressional leaders who had begun to scrutinize organized sports, in general, and Major League Baseball, in particular, because of the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes. Selig hoped that a comprehensive study would quell any lingering doubts that ownership had turned a blind eye and that he hadn't done enough as Commissioner to attack the issue.
During Selig's tenure, the sport has endured investigations by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, a federal probe into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that has ensnared Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Jason Grimsley, among others, and an investigation by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney in which nine current or former MLB players have been linked to the procurement of performance-enhancing drugs illegally from clinics or pharmacies doing business over the Internet.Under Selig's watch, management and the union collectively bargained the sport's first performance-enhancing drug policy in the Basic Agreement that took effect with the 2003 season. That program has been opened twice since then, resulting in the toughest punitive measures available in North American professional team sports: 50 games for a first positive test, 100 games for a second, and a lifetime ban (with the right to reapply after two years) for a third. Coupled with an even tougher program that was unilaterally instituted at the Minor League level in 2001, it's projected that MLB could almost completely eradicate its drug culture by the end of the decade. But that's reaching into the future. The question for Selig on Thursday is whether Mitchell's report will be far-reaching enough to contend with what happened in the past.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.