Tough Break About Having to Play in the Steroids Era*

*Yes, it is a tough break for those who didn’t take steroids but are lumped in the same broad category that McGwire helped create.   If such a comment came off the cuff in the live interview, I would find it more forgivable.  But in a carefully written, pre-scripted statement with a handler looking over your shoulder?  Astounding… just… jaw-dropping how stupid Team McGwire thinks the American public is.  Sure, it’s a “Dancing With the Stars” kind of culture these days, but people are still smart enough to not let that “steroids era” comment slip by without offering a “hey, wait a second…”

 

So,

 

CHEERS to Mark McGwire for admitting steroid use of his own volition, however obvious it was to everyone not named Tony LaRussa.  He didn’t pretend to try it once or twice, he came clean to his family (and to the Maris family), and he seemed to grasp the gravity of it until…

 

JEERS to the erstwhile Big Mac for:

taking all of 11 seconds to stubbornly–almost angrily–deny that steroids provided an advantage, a base for which he would maintain that he (and, we are to deduce, others) made a mockery of the record books with good old eye-hand coordination and the gifts TMU (“The Man Upstairs”) gave him.  He seemed put off at any suggestion otherwise, like Bob Costas just dreamed up such a silly notion on the spot.  Listening to McGwire defend himself by invoking his first little league home run stirred the kind of disappointment usually reserved for Little League parents who watch their son give the umpire the middle finger.  Which I guess is appropriate seeing as that McGwire was lobbing the same finger at baseball fans across the country.  No need to rehash the asinine argument that steroids provide no advantage – I don’t want to deter any ping pong players out there who clearly have the eye-hand coordination to join the big leagues and hit 70 home runs in a season.  So even if McGwire never took steroids, I guess all of his body-building workouts were just to look good for when he takes his shirt off to help move his neighbor’s refrigerator.

 

I’ve always given Mac partial credit for being the one guy who chose not to lie to congress in 2005.  I even find his reasoning possibly acceptable, that it might have opened up a can of worms which his family would get dragged into.  But to hear how much it pained him to essentially take the fifth in front of the Hooton family overlooks the fact that he retreated into exile (pardon me, “retirement”) immediately after emotionally swearing he would devote his post-playing career to preaching against steroid use.  Sorry Hootons – you were lied to by the big red man.

 

Why is this so complicated?  I can understand being cagey about certain whens and wheres so as to protect the fellow guilty, i.e., teammates, or other connections that would lead back to other players.  But everyone knows why these guys made The Decision.  Sure, lots of guys were doing it, but every one of them knew it was wrong – culture notwithstanding.  Maybe more names will come out this year, and more guys will say they didn’t realize what their trainer was sprinkling on their Maypo.  Or if anyone boldly admits to taking anything knowingly, they’ll say they took “illegal substances” to aid their regularity.

 

Maybe Bud Selig should create the Ken Caminiti award, given annually to the ballplayer that is truly up front about his steroid use.  Prerequisite is the player A) admitting he used, and B) acknowledging it was cheating, done for the purposes of being a better ballplayer.  So far, the only winner would be Jose Canseco, as the continuing parade of outed users double-talk their way into steroid purgatory.

 

 

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