Archive for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

McGwire’s call should go unanswered

Steroid suspicions - and carefully crafted deception - enough to turn the writers away

January 10, 2007

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During that wonderful fall of 1998, while in St. Louis following the final stages of Mark McGwire's home run chase, I often would phone my 7-year-old son with updates.

Big Mac hit another one! Big Mac just missed! Can you feel the air from Big Mac's swing? That thing that sounds like a train, that's the crowd!

These were more than baseball moments, these were bonding moments, a father and his only son learning to have a conversation, learning to be friends.

When this year's Hall of Fame voting was announced Tuesday morning, with McGwire and his jaw-dropping statistics eligible for the first time, I fittingly picked up the phone to call my son again.

But I couldn't do it.

This newspaper recently prohibited its writers from voting for awards, but I would not have checked McGwire's name. In fact, I have previously campaigned against McGwire on these pages, claiming that his superhuman physical appearance during the home run chase, combined with his feeble appearance during the congressional investigation, were all the evidence required.

He looked like a duck, and then later quacked like a duck, so ...

But today I wonder if McGwire is less a duck and more of a scapegoat.

It's about red-faced writers like myself, suckered by the steroid era, angered by baseball's response, frustrated by the arrogance of the deceit.

For several years, we have been looking to administer some street justice.

In McGwire, we found our mark.

With 417 of the 545 voters ignoring McGwire, the message was direct.

Players can hide behind secret testing, a tough union and public apathy, but they cannot hide from plain sight.

If big-armed, thick-legged players want to make a mockery of the game, then writers will make a mockery of their legacy.

On a day dominated by the overwhelmingly normal Tony Gywnn and Cal Ripken Jr., it sickens me to think that they might have shared their Cooperstown podium with a cartoon character.

Gwynn would have talked about how he collected 3,141 hits by showing up early and studying films for hours.

Then McGwire would have talked about, what, how overnight his arms grew into at least 50 homers for four consecutive seasons? At age 32? During the middle of the steroid era? After never hitting as many as 50 homers in any of his six previous healthy years?

Ripken would have talked about the work ethic that led him to show up for every game for more than 15 years.

Then McGwire would have talked about, hmm, disappearing after retirement so nobody could see how much his body has shrunk?

McGwire should remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for 14 more years, and will obviously garner more votes annually as anger subsides and perspective returns. But there is little chance he can gain the 50 percent of the vote that he is lacking.

He probably is barred from the Hall of Fame forever, handed a life sentence to be served outside the Cooperstown gates, not as a convict, but as a suspect, in a system where there clearly is no difference.

A couple of years ago, under oath, in front of the nation, McGwire had his chance to deny that he used steroids. But he did not. We assume it was because he could not.

Comments

bigcat 8 years, 4 months ago

OK, So let's talk about this one from the athletic point of view not from the point of view of people who never played real athletics especially at a high level. We also need to get a bunch of facts straight. First off were steroids there, hell yes, but let me tell you that they are very prevalent in the major leagues especially during that time. Talking to a friend in the NFL he stated about 80% of the NFL athletes during that era took steroids and he would say about 70% in baseball at the same time. But here is the problem, we are making McGwire and Bonds the scapegoats because their genetics allowed them to build larger muscles. Even with steroids it deals a lot with the genetics on how muscles grow and how big they grow. If you are more apt to grow larger muscles then you will get quite large if you put the time into the weight room. On the other side, if you are not genetically inclined to grow large muscles, you can get stronger, but not necessarily huge. So in the cases of McGwire, Bonds, Conseco, Palmero (sp?), etc they were just more noticeable. There were probably 100's of other MLB players out there that were taking these supplements that we think are saints, but were just as guilty. Steroids have also been around athletics since the 30's and huge in the 70's so how many others are in the hall of fame that are guilty. We are making assumptions that we know nothing about. If the news people are talking character then why in the hell are half those people in the hall of fame? I mean come on, how many people would have voted in Ty Cobb on character? A noted racist, womanizer, and alcoholic. We talk a lot about steroids, and don't get me wrong they are a terrible drug that no one should ever take and they do improve performance, but we really need to worry about HGH. HGH or Human Growth Hormone is the newest flavor of the month that we have a lot of difficulty testing for, and professional athletics have no legit way of testing for it. If you want to talk about something that will screw you up that is it. It will make you huge and do twice as much as steroids. The problem is that it messes with internal organs that will almost always cause an early death if abused. What are some tell-tale signs? Your head will grow, making you almost look like a Neanderthal, your teeth will spread, and jaw bones will start protruding slightly. This is the common age for pro athletes to use HGH, but we can't test for it, so we are going after these guys, who may have never tested positive for steroids, when they weren't even taking the worse of the worse.

bigcat 8 years, 4 months ago

Now, in no way, shape, or form does this post condone steroid use or illegal performance enhancing drugs, they are horrible things that will do a lot more damage in the long run then they help in the immediate present, but I truly feel we are making patsies out of some people to save the game, that if the truth got out on everyone who ever took performance enhancing drugs it would be over.

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