Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Few Thoughts On The Mark McGwire Steroids Admission

On Monday, Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids throughout his career, including 1998 when he broke Major League Baseball’s most hallowed record.

The aftershock from the admission has been interesting to say the least. Most analysts have said that McGwire did not gain any ground by admitting to the use of performance enhancing drugs. They think that he is still a liar, and that he was not honest enough about his use. Most experts agree that this will not help McGwire get into the Hall of Fame, something that seems to be a foregone conclusion in light of the sluggers first four years of eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

1. I am a little bit surprised by the reaction. While McGwire’s most shocking statement was that he does not think that using steroids helped him hit a single home run, the majority of his admission was extremely revealing. Instead of dodging tough questions, or admitting to using the drugs once or twice like some stars have said, McGwire made it clear that this was something that he was doing over the course of his entire career.

2. Anyone who was surprised to find out that McGwire used steroids was not living in the real world. Articles by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal seemed to suggest that this admission was groundbreaking, that McGwire was telling us all something that we did not already know. After McGwire’s 2005 Congressional hearing, it is comical to think that there are still individuals who had doubt that he was a steroid user. It is similar to those people who are so blind to evidence that they believe that Barry Bonds was also clean. Being convicted in the court of law is not the only way to know for sure that someone committed a crime. Are these the same people who believe that O.J. Simpson was not involved in the murder of his ex-wife?

3. It was relieving to get an explanation of why McGwire had looked so pathetic in 2005 when he testified before Congress. At the time, McGwire made a fool of himself by refusing to answer questions directly in regards to his personal steroid use. He continued to say that he was more interested in talking about the future and not about the past. McGwire said that he was eager to admit to his use, but was not granted immunity and therefore did not say anything that could have caused him to be prosecuted. Why the government would not grant McGwire immunity is baffling. The government never wanted to prosecute the players, they wanted to curb the problem, so granting immunity would have been very helpful.

4. The “Steroid Era” is unfortunate for those players who were clean. There are players who played in this era and never touched drugs. They were extremely disadvantaged because they were most likely in the minority. However, when history looks back at these clean players stats, they will be done another disservice, because most will assume that anything good that they did was done due to steroids, when the fact of the matter is, they were putting up those numbers while not being on an equal level with the rest of the players.

5. McGwire saying that he does not believe that steroids helped him hit a single home run is ridiculous, but it makes sense why he would believe that. It would be very difficult for a person to admit that something that they had done, something that brought them riches and fame, was done based on dishonesty. I believe that while McGwire wrestled with this himself, the only way that he can live with what he has done is to convince himself that the steroids really did not help him and that he was not a sham.

6. I have not made my mind up about players who tested positive going into the Hall of Fame. If we could know for sure who did steroids, it would be easy to eliminate those players from the Hall, however, eliminating only those who have been caught or have admitted to steroid use only ensures that those who never got caught will get in. The fact is, the Hall of Fame has most likely already admitted players who used steroids into their exclusive club.

7. McGwire seems to be taking more heat than other great players who have been caught. Where is the outrage for Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez? Both of those players have benefited from steroid use. Both are incredibly wealthy due to the benefits of the illegal drugs. Rodriguez’s steroid use caused a stir, but was quickly forgotten about as the season began and as the slugger led the Yankees to their 27th World Series championship. Manny Ramirez might represent the biggest double standard in sports. For years Dodger fans in the left field stands would heckle Barry Bonds, calling him a cheater and complain about his steroid use. After Ramirez returned from a 50 game suspension for using steroids, he was quickly embraced by those same fans in left field and given a free pass.

8. Finally, it is clear that Jose Canseco deserves an apology. Canseco is nothing if not quirky and weird. He was mocked and lambasted when his book came out, but McGwire’s admission to using steroids throughout his career is yet another confirmation that Canseco was telling the truth. It is difficult to find the name of a superstar from the late 90’s who has not been linked to steroids. Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, McGwire, Andy Pettite, Ramirez, David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez are all connected to steroids. Finding a clean player during the late 90’s may be more difficult than finding a dirty one.

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