"The challenge now is to take the program to a new and higher level," Mitchell said.
For Williston High School's boys' baseball coach Jim Smith that statement has a special meeting. This year, he has the not-so-small task of taking the Red Devils to a new and higher level after losing star player Jiwan James, but according to Smith, he will not settle for a winning team built on steroids.
"The short term effects may be glory, but in the long run, you're going to lose by damaging your body," he said.
That was one of the principles Smith drilled into James' head as a student, but as he gets closer to the Majors, the Phillies prospect said he hopes the Mitchell Report does not have a negative effect on the way people look at pro ball players.
"Whoever has a good season, they probably will be asked about steroids," James said.
According to Mitchell, the report was meant to expose the use of steroids and other performance enhancers in Major League Baseball, not the players using them. Mitchell's 311 page report listed 19 recommendations to help the League rid itself of the problem.
"Improved education programs about the dangers of substance use are critical to any effort to deter use," he said during Thursday afternoon's press conference.
Smith said he is anxious to hear more solutions, but not more blame.
"We need to address the issues and fix the problem," he said. "The past cannot fix the problem, but we can fix the problem for the future."
For the future of the Red Devils, Smith's teachings appear to be sinking in, especially with center fielder/pitcher Danny Etheridge.
"If you work hard in the weight room, train, run stadiums and just stay in condition, you're going to do just what steroids do," he said. "You just have to work hard at it."
Besides education, Mitchell also recommended department of investigations for Major League Baseball, off-season testing and state-of-the-art testing procedures, but ultimately it is up to Commissioner Bud Selig to decide what to do.
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV 20 News.
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