In reading through the Mitchell Report, the senator offers MLB advice on what should happen moving forward.
Two suggestions caught my eye: He wants a process to account for packages players receive at the clubhouse and background checks for clubhouse employees.
This makes a lot of sense. I started covering baseball in New York in 2000 and it always has amazed me how much power that the clubhouse managers and their assistants have. Their jobs seem pretty simple. They’re supposed to keep the place clean, do laundry and help with the equipment.
But in covering the Mets and Yankees, I’ve seen players hand clubhouse guys thousands of dollars to run errands, wash their cars, pick up friends at the airport, etc. Apparently, getting them steroids as well at Shea Stadium. The “clubbies” do everything.
It’s pretty common knowledge around baseball that players who are cheating on their wives will have a clubbie get him a second cell phone so he can talk to his girlfriend. The bill is then sent to the clubhouse. Obtaining steroids seems to work the same way. I can guarantee you that the cash transactions that Mitchell couldn’t account for were likely handled by clubbies.
In most cases, teams have no idea who these clubbies are. The clubhouse manager hires who he wants and his assistants are usually paid in tips. Alex Rodriguez has his own clubbie with the Yankees, a guy who literally stands there and holds drinks for him.
You hear stories all the time of clubbies getting $50,000 SUVs from players or trips to Vegas. What sorts of favors are you going for somebody when that is the reward?
For decades, baseball has operated with few outsiders peering behind the curtain. If Mitchell accomplished anything, perhaps he convinced owners and general managers to take a better look at who works most closely with the players.
Kirk Radomski got his start folding towels. Maybe if somebody was paying closer attention, he wouldn’t have started a drug ring.