Keith talked to Phil Rogers, national baseball columnist and reporter for the 'Chicago Tribune' to get some perspective on what Commissioner Bud Selig has been saying about Major League Baseball's steroid investigation in recent interviews.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, "COUNTDOWN": A lot of the criticism against the commissioner seems to spring from the announcement of the investigation last week when he didn't say 'I'll suspend players if merited or I'll erase records if merited.' He also did not say those things precisely but it seemed to me like he got a lot closer. Is it fair to say anything and everything is on the table from his point of view?
PHIL ROGERS, COLUMNIST AND REPORTER, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: Oh, I think so. That's kind of been my understanding all along. I think there are a lot of people to look at all the things you can't do and the statute of limitations. But I thought when he announced the investigation he cited his article two powers, best interest of the game powers. And to me by saying that, he's saying that unilaterally I can decide to do anything I want to do here.
OLBERMANN: There would be new territory. Obviously players have been banned, players have been suspended, there have been drug investigations of various kinds, there have been investigations about every kind of wrongdoing imaginable and some that have been unimaginable. But we have never had records actually altered or ignored in the baseball record book. That was something he wouldn't rule out today. Any idea how that would be done or under what those numbers would look like after they were dealt with?
ROGERS: Well that's a really slippery slope, I think, Keith. And I know it's something that in the past the commissioner has really not wanted to strongly consider the asterisk or anything else like that. You know the problem is, let's say you go back and you can positively say that in 2001 Barry Bonds was using banned substances, steroids and you can then go back and say Mark McGwire in 1998 was doing that. What about Sammy Sosa?
What if you can't say he was doing it and I just think once you start eliminating guys, and you know I think you're talking about the single season homerun record with those three names. To get back to Roger Maris and maybe you're talking about the career homerun record if Bonds does pass Aaron. I'm not sure he's going to pass Aaron because he's going to have to stay healthy and have to hit those homeruns in a hurry or suddenly have a lot of evidence disappear. I think you know as you are advancing the story I think he's headed toward a suspension on the thing.
OLBERMANN: We also got a better idea in that interview what the Mitchell investigation is supposed to produce and what it's not going to do. It's basically going to be Bud Selig's factual steroid bible. It's going to be baseball's record book, if you will, on steroids. If Barry Bonds used them and it can be proven it will be in there. If he didn't or it can't be proven, it will be in there and then Bud Selig could hit people over the head with it as necessary.
There was obviously a lot of fluidity that the commissioner referred to in that interview today. It could be this year or the next year. Is there any guesswork even as to when this is going to come to pass?
ROGERS: You know, it's a broad scope but you got to realize a lot of investigation and work has already been done ahead of time. When I've talked to the commissioner he's been very careful to say he's not going to prejudge anything. He wants us to be very fair. Mitchell also made that point.
But you know you can go back. One of the members on the Mitchell committee, Carluji, a former assistant state or fed in California was monitoring Bonds' situation in 2005. He has all the access to BALCO. You can go back pretty far and I think they already have a lot of evidence that they're starting with. So I will be surprised if a report doesn't come out before the 2007 season starts.
I think we're looking at probably a one-year process. I mean it could be open-ended and go on forever because you know one lead could lead you to another. But he was careful when he announced it, the talk about BALCO, and I think that somewhat narrows the scope depending on what comes and presents itself to Mitchell and the others on the committee.
OLBERMANN: After Dan and I spoke to the commissioner today, Dan asked me a question: who is going to testify to George Mitchell? It probably won't be other players. It'll probably be people like Barry Bonds' ex-mistress and anybody in trouble with the law who needs a recommendation letter to a judge or something.
ROGERS: Oh I'm sure it will. And I think they're going to be very careful, Mitchell and his committee. I think they will talk to everyone but I think they're going to throw out a lot of people if they feel they have an ax to grind or something to gain by testifying against a person. You know, you go back, the “New York Daily News” last year or two years ago reported in 1994 an FBI agent went to Kevin Howelman, the head of security, to say some of your guys, your players are turning up in some of our investigations into steroids.
You know they're going to go to that FBI guy and see where his now 10, 11-year-old leads go to. You had other steroid investigations, I think, where you're going to find players linked to. That's the kind of information that they're going to start with and then just be open to whatever lands in their lap that's credible from the public.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for your time.