An all-star public servant probes drugs in baseball

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When Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, named George Mitchell to investigate drug use among players, he had to know he was appointing a tiger.

Mitchell isn't your usual politician. He's been a federal prosecutor, a federal judge, a senator from Maine, a Senate majority leader, and a polished diplomat who worked through decades of religious hatred to bring the two sides together in Northern Ireland.

Mitchell has the qualities necessary to restore some sanity to the game. He is tenacious, thorough, and full of character. And he is fair.

At one time, Mitchell wasa favorite among a few baseball owners to be commissioner. However, the owners who do not want an independent leader turned to Selig, then owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mitchell will not bow to pressure from bully owners, such as George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees or Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles. He has a brilliant reputation and will not forfeit it to the likes of a Steinbrenner or Angelos.

Mitchell reportedly wants to speakdirectlywith players and officials, allowing the presence of a lawyer if one is requested. If the individual does not cooperate, Mitchell will urge Selig to fine, suspend, or even dismiss the unwilling player or official.

When Mitchell was Democratic leader in the Senate, the Bush 41 White House thought he was too partisan. Indeed, he could be partisan, but he had the respect of most of the Senate, including Republicans. He kept his word to friend and foe.

Mitchell loves the game. He grew up in New England, so he naturally loves the Red Sox. A few thought that was baggage for the commissioner's job. They don't know Mitchell.

If any member of the Red Sox is taking steroids or worse, he should be aware that George Mitchell will not hold back. Mitchell wants integrity returned to the national pastime that has been soiled by Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, and others. And if Barry Bonds is an offender, as has been alleged, Mitchell is going to be on his case.