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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

S.I.: Posnanski: Time to forgive Mark McGwire

Reason/Voice/Poz.

Within seconds of the interview ending, I began to hear analysts tearing up McGwire. Then I read some columnists’ thoughts—they mostly ripped into the man, too. And the more I read, the more I heard, the more I realized that most people did not see this thing the way I saw it. Apparently, McGwire was not contrite enough. He was not believable enough. He was not specific enough. He would not admit that steroids made him the great home run hitter he became. He did not tell the whole truth. He did not sound sincere enough. And on. And on. And on.

Wow. I have spent the last few hours trying to replay this in my head. Why didn’t I see what so many other people apparently did see? The big thing seems to be McGwire’s refusal to accept that steroids made him a better hitter. This apparently trampled many people’s sensibilities. But, the thing is, I didn’t need him to admit that, and, to be honest, I didn’t want for him to admit it.* We all have our opinions about steroids and what they do. That is his opinion. I didn’t need him saying something he did not believe… isn’t that the very definition of “insincere?”

...When Mark McGwire finished with his day of apologies, I forgave him. It doesn’t mean I look at his 70 home run season the way I did in 1998. It doesn’t mean that I respect the choices he made. It doesn’t even mean that I agree with his self-scouting report. No. I just mean that if there was any anger or resentment toward him for cheating, it is gone now. He admitted and he apologized. Now, he wants to coach baseball. He wants to speak out against steroids. He wants people to remember that he was a damned good hitter who worked hard at the game. I wish him well and hope all those things for him.

As for so many others—many of them friends of mine—who do not feel like he met the forgiveness bar and felt like this whole apology thing was a sham, well, as I’ve said, I have been wrong plenty before. One friend emailed me with this line: “Why SHOULD I forgive him?” It’s just my opinion: But I think the answer is in the question.

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:03 PM | 482 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, media, steroids

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   1. Mark Armour Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:11 PM (#3435636)
All of this crap goes on because of people's obsession with the Hall of Fame. Were there no Hall of Fame (meaning, no list of honorees), this would be non-news, and people would be wondering how McGwire will effect the Cardinals hitters this year. Of course, people could just stop writing about the Hall of Fame between now and next January 1 and do us all a favor.
   2. rconn23 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:12 PM (#3435640)
Oh, Posnanski with your logic and rational thought...Flibbledly floob...I'm outraged!
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3435641)
Forgive is fine, I don't think his 'roid use makes him a bad person.

Just don't "forget", i.e. discount his achievements appropriately. Don't tell me he was a better HR hitter than Babe Ruth, or Barry Bonds was a better hitter than Ted Williams.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:16 PM (#3435643)
Ruth and Williams played with a much bigger advantage than steroids.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:16 PM (#3435645)
All of this crap goes on because of people's obsession with the Hall of Fame. Were there no Hall of Fame (meaning, no list of honorees), this would be non-news, and people would be wondering how McGwire will effect the Cardinals hitters this year. Of course, people could just stop writing about the Hall of Fame between now and next January 1 and do us all a favor.

I think it has more to do with the home run record than the HOF.
   6. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:16 PM (#3435646)
Bless you, Pos.

Joe Posnanski being sane and reasonable is as regular as the sun coming up in the morning.

A perfect game played by imperfect people, run by imperfect owners, overseen by imperfect commissioners, watched by imperfect fans. Thus it has always been and thus it will always be.

If McGwire had said he would have been Neifi Perez without the steroids (and yeah, I'm aware of the irony in the comparison), people would be seizing on something else.

The mobs want their pound of flesh and they'll be the ones measuring what constitutes a pound, thank you very much.
   7. HGM Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:19 PM (#3435650)
The part about what Buck O'Neil said was my favorite. Absolutely true and something I think the self-righteous steroid crusaders need to read repeatedly until its seared into their brains.
   8. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:19 PM (#3435651)
I guess the one place where I most disagree with Poz is whne he writes:

"We all have our opinions about steroids and what they do. That is his opinion. I didn’t need him saying something he did not believe… isn’t that the very definition of “insincere?”"

I, like a lot of others, don't believe he sincerely believes what he is saying. I think he DID say something he doesn't believe, because the only way he can reconcile his admission of steroid use and his results on the field, and come to the conclusion that he was not cheating, is if we believe that taking steroids did not have a significant impact on the quality of his performance. This is silly. Steroids can mess you up in a myriad of ways physically, and they carry both legal and public relations problems. You're telling me, Mark, that you used steroids for a decade, knowing for much f it that they didn't help you perform athletically? Whatever.

By the way, has Jose Canseco been substantially wrong in any of his claims about other players to this point?
   9. Tripon Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:19 PM (#3435652)
4. JJ1986 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:16 PM (#3435643)
Ruth and Williams played with a much bigger advantage than steroids.


Really? How good was the quality of the Negro leagues in their lifetimes? Honest question here.

edit: I'm talking about average quality, not just greats like Josh Gibson, or Satchel Paige.
   10. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:21 PM (#3435654)
Why Posnanski is the best columnist active today.
   11. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:23 PM (#3435657)
I wish somebody could tell me what the perfect apology for this would be? Does it involve getting kicked in the balls by Pearlman or Mariotti? Can we know precisely how many sorries gets it done?
   12. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:23 PM (#3435659)
I, like a lot of others, don't believe he sincerely believes what he is saying. I think he DID say something he doesn't believe


But that's truly and absolutely unknowable -- never underestimate people's ability to delude themselves. I absolutely believe McGwire himself believes this. I don't think it's scientifically accurate in the least, but that by no means detracts from Mac believing it.

Hell, that just makes McGwire human... we all have our little delusions we hold too dear to let go.
   13. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:26 PM (#3435662)
Does it involve getting kicked in the balls by Pearlman or Mariotti? Can we know precisely how many sorries gets it done?


I think some purists want him to admit he could never have broken 61 without the extra help.
   14. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:28 PM (#3435665)
I agree with Poz, and find the idea that McGwire "lied" or "is in denial" about whether or not 'roids made him a better power hitter preposterous. He doesn't believe they did, and cited his reasons, many of which made sense. He was given talent by whomever doles it out, he was a renowned power hitter well before 1987, he did hit 49 HRs at 23, and it is correct that steroids can't themselves make you into a home run hitter.

Steroids probably did give him a boost in HR totals, but whether it did or didn't isn't within his power to "admit." In the context of the entire interview, in which I think he expressed genuine regret for letting people close to him down, hectoring him about that small point isn't particularly noble.

He had it within him to hit 62 HRs in a season without chemical help and I wish he'd have tried. The most noteworthy part of the interview was his genuine expression that he wishes he'd tried.
   15. HGM Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:32 PM (#3435672)
That's the best post I've ever read by SBB.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:32 PM (#3435675)
Ruth and Williams played with a much bigger advantage than steroids.

And when you show me how they personally worked to keep blacks out of MLB I'll count it against them.
   17. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:33 PM (#3435677)
I think he DID say something he doesn't believe, because the only way he can reconcile his admission of steroid use and his results on the field, and come to the conclusion that he was not cheating, is if we believe that taking steroids did not have a significant impact on the quality of his performance. This is silly. Steroids can mess you up in a myriad of ways physically, and they carry both legal and public relations problems. You're telling me, Mark, that you used steroids for a decade, knowing for much f it that they didn't help you perform athletically? Whatever.
You can choose not to believe him, but you should choose not to believe what he said, rather than what he didn't say. He didn't say he used them even though they don't help. What he said was that he used them to heal, not to enhance performance. Maybe that's a lie, or maybe it's just self-deception on his part, but it's what he said.

That having been said, at the time he was admittedly using, they really didn't carry any of the problems you discuss. Nobody cared about the issue. They were freely and widely available; anybody going to any gym could get them (they had only been Scheduled a few years earlier, and weren't exactly a high law enforcement priority).
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:36 PM (#3435683)
Great column and the Buck O'Neil comment is DEAD ON and completely overlooked.
*There's another thing, something you don't hear people talk about much. In fact, my old friend Buck O'Neil was about the only person I ever heard talk openly about this. Buck would get infuriated because people constantly talked about the "benefits" of using steroids to the exclusion of almost everything else. He'd say something like: "Well, people talk all the time about how they will help you hit the ball farther and pitch the ball faster. Why don't they talk instead about how you might die young? Why don't they talk about how you might not be able to have children? Why are they always telling children: 'Use this and it will make you a great baseball player... but you shouldn't use it?'"

His point was, yes, that we in the media -- especially some of the angriest anti-steroid crusaders -- GLORIFY steroids. We talk about the amazing feats of strength possible with steroids. We talk about how steroids can turn a mere mortal into a legend. We talk about how despite all the rewards -- and those rewards may include fame and riches beyond your wildest dreams -- you shouldn't do it because, you know, it's wrong and cheating and all that. This isn't exactly an overpowering message to the youth of America, is it? McGwire's message was: "Hey, it's a dead end and it doesn't even help you that much." And people skewer him for it?
   19. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:37 PM (#3435689)
And when you show me how they personally worked to keep blacks out of MLB I'll count it against them.


That is an interesting comment. I had never considered the levels of gray in culpability. I wouldn't argue a case against Ruth or Williams but I could probably put a good one for Anson, Hornsby, and Speaker. Not airtight of course but a good case. How do we count it against them?
   20. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:40 PM (#3435694)
His point was, yes, that we in the media -- especially some of the angriest anti-steroid crusaders -- GLORIFY steroids. We talk about the amazing feats of strength possible with steroids. We talk about how steroids can turn a mere mortal into a legend. We talk about how despite all the rewards -- and those rewards may include fame and riches beyond your wildest dreams -- you shouldn't do it because, you know, it's wrong and cheating and all that. This isn't exactly an overpowering message to the youth of America, is it? McGwire's message was: "Hey, it's a dead end and it doesn't even help you that much." And people skewer him for it?


Yep.
   21. The Voice of America Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:40 PM (#3435696)
And when you show me how they personally worked to keep blacks out of MLB I'll count it against them.


Then you're not trying to find out who was the best home run hitter. That they didn't directly caused the advantage doesn't mean they didn't benefitted.
   22. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:41 PM (#3435697)
To me, an apology might include:

"Look, I know I dodged this issue in front of Congress, and have, in the past, either said or implied that I was not taking steroids during my career. Well, I did, and I realize that many people strongly believe that this gave me an unfair advantage over those players who did not use such steroids. Before I started using the stuff, I was a prolific hitter in college, the minors, and a Rookie of the Year who hit 49 HRs in a tough ballpark...so I know I was a helluva player before I started using steroids regularly. But I was getting injured a lot, and those injuries were taking me off the field for an increasing amount of time. My career was on the line, and I saw other players using steroids in an effort to extend or improve their careers, so I did it, too.

"I don't know how much taking steroids helped me - either in staying on the field more often, avoiding injuries, or being a more productive player on the field. Some people think it probably made all the difference. Other people think it probably played a very small role, given my performance before I started using steroids. I don't know.

"But I know that I was breaking the rules of the game, and I was breaking the law. Whether or not it actually helped me reach the heights I reached, I should not have knowingly broken rules or laws; it was wrong, and I am very sorry. It has hurt my reputation significantly, and I understand why. It has played a role in harming the game which has given me so much, and it has put some of my peers in awkward situations, including Tony LaRussa, that they did not deserve to be in.

"Acknowledging my past actions does not singlehandedly atone for them, but it is a step. I look forward to helping the Cardinals as a hitting coach, and putting this behind me - not by pretending it didn't happen, but my facing it head-on, and trying to give back to the game of baseball in a number of ways.

"I will provide opportunities to extensively answer many of your questions in the near future, prior to the beginning of the 2010 baseball season. Once the seaosn begins, however, I will not answer such questions, as it will detract from the play on the field of those who did not exercises the errors in judgment that I did. Thank you."
   23. Mark Armour Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:41 PM (#3435699)
O'Neill really was a brilliant man.
   24. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:44 PM (#3435704)
And when you show me how they personally worked to keep blacks out of MLB I'll count it against them.


That's a perfectly valid point but one that is irrelevent when evaluating their performance. Whether or not they wanted a segregated game or not they had one and therefore were performing against lesser competition. Todd Helton didn't necessarily choose to play in Colorado but he does and we have to account for that when evaluating him.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:44 PM (#3435706)
re the comment in #18, in a weird way its kind of refreshing that the media acknowledges for once that there are more than just negative side effects for an illegal drug.
   26. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:45 PM (#3435708)
@22: Yes, and the response would be, "McGwire obviously didn't write that; a PR guy did. So it's not sincere. Plus, no groveling. I wanted groveling."
   27. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:46 PM (#3435709)
I forgive you Steve.
   28. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:48 PM (#3435713)
Great column and the Buck O'Neil comment is DEAD ON and completely overlooked.
For the record (hey! look at me! I'm over here!) I've been pointing that out for years, so obviously Buck is a smart guy for agreeing with me. People complained that McGwire et al were "bad role models," that they were setting a terrible example for kids and sending the wrong message. But McGwire et al have denied that steroids helped, while the zealots claimed that steroids turned players from AAA players into HOFers; the latter, not the former, is the advertisement for steroids.
   29. majorflaw Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:51 PM (#3435719)
has Jose Canseco been substantially wrong in any of his claims about other players to this point?


Yup, all of them. Not factually incorrect about their use. But wrong nonetheless. Not that I need to hear it but I can respect a player who talks about his own transgressions while leaving others--both innocent and guilty--alone. Didn't have much use for Whittaker Chambers either.

How good was the quality of the Negro leagues in their lifetimes? Honest question here.

edit: I'm talking about average quality, not just greats like Josh Gibson, or Satchel Paige.


Integration wouldn't have cost Ruth, Williams, etc. their MLB jobs. But several of the folks pitching to them and fielding their batted balls wouldn't have made the majors. Who knows how well the all time greats would have done against the truly best competition available.
   30. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:51 PM (#3435720)
@22: Yes, and the response would be, "McGwire obviously didn't write that; a PR guy did. So it's not sincere. Plus, no groveling. I wanted groveling."


well some would be satisfied if there were groveling, but many? They'd be momentarily amused at a grown man grovelling. but after that? They'd still hate McGwire.

To be honest I'm surprised at some of the venom I've seen written the past 24 hours, I used to comment on how some of the anti-peders seemed more anti-Barry than anything else- no one received the sheer venom that Bonds did... I may have to rethink that a bit.

The hate directed at McGwire is largely real I think, not just sportswriter posturing, but like the hate directed at Obama during Tea Party demonstrations it is more than bit divorced from reality. Basically I think they saw things like 61 and 755 as being holy/sacred, and what McGwire/Bonds did as an act of desecration, an affront to all that is holy or good. Even when they have a point, that point is overwhelmed by the sheer emotional/irrational
   31. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:52 PM (#3435723)
Roger Connor is still the one and only HR king.
   32. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:54 PM (#3435725)
Is there a list of players that Canseco has actually accused? I certainly haven't read his book (wasn't there a sequel?), so I can't independently verify how accurate he's been.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:56 PM (#3435726)
the latter, not the former, is the advertisement for steroids


they both are.

Star player using repeatedly in attempts to get better is more of an advertisement for kids than the same player's after-the-fact discouragement is a deterrent.
   34. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:56 PM (#3435727)
The hate directed at McGwire is largely real I think, not just sportswriter posturing, but like the hate directed at Obama during Tea Party demonstrations it is more than bit divorced from reality. Basically I think they saw things like 61 and 755 as being holy/sacred, and what McGwire/Bonds did as an act of desecration,

There's no reason whatsoever to think that Roger Maris was inherently a better homerun hitter than Mark McGwire. I wouldn't say the same thing about Bonds, and that's where I think things got dicey with a lot of people. McGwire's 70 would be seen in a different light if Bonds hadn't hit 73, then 762.
   35. danielj Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:03 PM (#3435737)
Just curious: Has anyone in the MSM ever called for the removal of Shawn Merriman's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award or considered putting asterisks next to the Patriot's SB titles (Rodney Harrison), or striking Julius Pepper's sacks from the books?
   36. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:05 PM (#3435740)
Star player using repeatedly in attempts to get better is more of an advertisement for kids than the same player's after-the-fact discouragement is a deterrent.
But star player denied using repeatedly. The zealots were accusing him of using, on the theory that he couldn't have sit so many HR otherwise.
   37. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:07 PM (#3435746)
But star player denied using repeatedly. The zealots were accusing him of using, on the theory that he couldn't have sit so many HR otherwise


are we talking about McGwire here?
   38. SteveF Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:08 PM (#3435749)
The steroid problem always was more about players feeling pressure to sacrifice their future health to keep their spots on ML rosters than it was about cheating record books or the fans. It's hard to get too mad at the players since their actions contain within them the punishment.

And Posnanski's last point is a pretty powerful one. Forgiveness is always done more for the sake of the forgiver than the forgiven.

And that's really why we should forgive all these players -- so we can stop having these threads!
   39. Randy Jones Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:09 PM (#3435750)
Just curious: Has anyone in the MSM ever called for the removal of Shawn Merriman's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award or considered putting asterisks next to the Patriot's SB titles (Rodney Harrison), or striking Julius Pepper's sacks from the books?


No one gives a #### about football records or awards.
   40. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:12 PM (#3435755)
Football is for nancies.

EDIT: Except for anything Miami Hurricane related.
   41. DL from MN Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:12 PM (#3435757)
My best guess is there were about 4 MLB teams (100 players, give or take 20 between 1920 and 1940) worth of Negro Leaguers who wouldn't have been out of place in the majors. Considering a 16 team major leagues, that's a lot. If a 1920 integration had been followed by an expansion shortly thereafter (Kansas City, Newark, Indianapolis, Baltimore) you probably wouldn't have known the difference. Without an expansion you raise replacement level by ~20%.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:13 PM (#3435758)
Just curious: Has anyone in the MSM ever called for the removal of Shawn Merriman's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award or considered putting asterisks next to the Patriot's SB titles (Rodney Harrison), or striking Julius Pepper's sacks from the books?


Well, no one's seriously considered putting asterisks next to the World Series titles of the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels (or any other recent winner).

Merriman's Pro Bowl selection during the year of his suspension did receive criticism, and forced (I believe) the league to prohibit guys who get suspensions from pro bowl participation.

I don't know anything about Julius Peppers, so I can't really comment on 3. But no
one's really advocated removing Matt Lawton's homers from the books either.

Is there more ire directed at baseball's record holders? Undoubtedly. But that's kind good thing. It means, deep down, we care about the sport and its participants in a way that we don't care about football. I suppose there are a lot of reasons why, but ultimately football players are anonymous and expendable, and the public treats them as such. If they want to destroy their body through the juice, well, they were going to destroy it through playing the damn game anyway.
   43. HGM Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:15 PM (#3435763)
Is there a list of players that Canseco has actually accused? I certainly haven't read his book (wasn't there a sequel?), so I can't independently verify how accurate he's been.

Purely off the top of my head...Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens.
   44. base ball chick Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:16 PM (#3435764)
35. danielj Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:03 PM (#3435737)

Just curious: Has anyone in the MSM ever called for the removal of Shawn Merriman's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award or considered putting asterisks next to the Patriot's SB titles (Rodney Harrison), or striking Julius Pepper's sacks from the books?


- asterisk football players?????

scorn
contempt

dude, pleeeeze

even jeff pearlman doesn't give 2 shtts if football players dope to the eyeballs with anything. they just a bunch of nameless, faceless, disposable ghetto nigs and why bother to care about That Trash who are prolly already on drugs and ain't other wise good fer nothin? and who cares that their life span is a dozen years at LEAST shorter than the average african american man? or that most of them live in endless, chronic pain and have no decent medical plan/retirement plan like the ML players do?

eff em

besides, nobody gives 2 shtts about football records

they care ONLY about The Sacred Home Run Record

which is why the media never EVER talks about anyone else CAUGHT using roids. or confessed to using roids (wally joyner, fp santangelo) or demands that anyone caught using or confessed to using have every last stat removed from the records.

nope

they ONLY talk about the stupid home run record. because that really IS all they care about. if mcgwire, sosa and bonds hadn't hit over 61, the ballplayers all STILL be using roids and wouldn't nobody care, neither

they ESPECIALLY ignore the alex sanchez/manny alexander guys because using roids didn't turn them into home run hitters, like they say roids did with mcgwire. disproves their entire justification for mcgwire hate
   45. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:17 PM (#3435766)
Some more exceptional excerpts:
I never thought apologizing was an Olympic sport with stoned-faced people judging how straight his toes were pointed and if he made too big a splash.
...
There are always reasons to not forgive. No apology is perfect. No apology comes early enough. No apology goes deep enough. No apology covers every aspect of things. And there's a reason for this. No apology can erase the wrong in the first place.


Among his fellow sportswriters, Joe Posnanski is like that line from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail':

"He must be a king."
"Why?"
"He hasn't got shit all over him."
   46. RJ in TO Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:18 PM (#3435768)
Purely off the top of my head...Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens.


Bret Boone too.
   47. OsunaSakata Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:19 PM (#3435770)
Isn't part of the problem is that the public perceives that PEDs work like spinach for Popeye? You hear expressions like "cutting corners" or "taking the easy way", which a word like "cheating" implies. But the primary benefit of PEDs is making enabling the muscles to heal more quickly, allowing more intense workouts and increased muscle mass. But you could argue the users had a stronger work ethic because they were pushing their bodies past their limits. Throughout their athletic life, life have been instilled with the values of "competitiveness" and "work ethic" with little temperance by fair play. When had these athletes been criticized for these values?

Health warning are as useful to the young athlete as warnings about drug use, drunk driving or STDs. They think they're immortal.

The most annoying people in the debate are those who say the steroid users are worse than the players who threw games. At least the users were trying to win, which the least I expect from an honest athletic competition.
   48. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:23 PM (#3435777)
Is there a list of players that Canseco has actually accused? I certainly haven't read his book (wasn't there a sequel?), so I can't independently verify how accurate he's been.

Purely off the top of my head...Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens.
Canseco specifically denied Clemens' guilt.
   49. danielj Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:24 PM (#3435780)
Is there more ire directed at baseball's record holders? Undoubtedly. But that's kind good thing. It means, deep down, we care about the sport and its participants in a way that we don't care about football. I suppose there are a lot of reasons why, but ultimately football players are anonymous and expendable, and the public treats them as such. If they want to destroy their body through the juice, well, they were going to destroy it through playing the damn game anyway.

You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.
   50. HGM Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:25 PM (#3435782)
Bret Boone too.

I thought Boone fell into the "I was confident he was using but had no firsthand knowledge" category along with Sammy Sosa and such.

Canseco specifically denied Clemens' guilt.

I wasn't sure on that so I gave a quick look on Wikipedia which says: "Although Canseco accused Roger Clemens of steroid use, he extolled Clemens' apparent marital fidelity, saying that Clemens was "one of the very few baseball players I know who never cheated on his wife."" and posted it. Wikipedia very well may be wrong...as can my memory.
   51. danielj Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:26 PM (#3435785)
Isn't part of the problem is that the public perceives that PEDs work like spinach for Popeye? You hear expressions like "cutting corners" or "taking the easy way", which a word like "cheating" implies. But the primary benefit of PEDs is making enabling the muscles to heal more quickly, allowing more intense workouts and increased muscle mass. But you could argue the users had a stronger work ethic because they were pushing their bodies past their limits. Throughout their athletic life, life have been instilled with the values of "competitiveness" and "work ethic" with little temperance by fair play. When had these athletes been criticized for these values?

This is why I think the trite coverage of the issue in the media is dangerous - they are strongly suggesting that taking PEDs directly = improved performance. What lesson are young players going to take from this?
   52. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:28 PM (#3435788)
You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.


I prefer bbc's explanation. Football has become a dangerous sport, and a highly exploitative business -- with obvious social connotations.
   53. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:29 PM (#3435790)
Health warning are as useful to the young athlete as warnings about drug use, drunk driving or STDs. They think they're immortal.

You can mention the small ball thing, that might get their attention.
   54. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:29 PM (#3435793)
You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.


I think this is an excellent point - and probably very near to the truth.

I wasn't sure on that so I gave a quick look on Wikipedia which says: "Although Canseco accused Roger Clemens of steroid use, he extolled Clemens' apparent marital fidelity, saying that Clemens was "one of the very few baseball players I know who never cheated on his wife."" and posted it. Wikipedia very well may be wrong...as can my memory.


Sooo.... not an oracle?
   55. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:30 PM (#3435796)
Purely off the top of my head...Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens.


So that leaves Magglio, Juan Gone, and Pudge as "unproven," though Gonzalez I recall had his trainer banned for lugging around something-that-might-be-steroids in an airport (and I could be forgetting something about Pudge). According to this site he also accused Wilson Alvarez, Bret Boone, Dave Martinez, and Tony Saunders (blamed his crazy arm breaks on it, apparently).
   56. HGM Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3435799)
According to this site he also accused Wilson Alvarez, Bret Boone, Dave Martinez, and Tony Saunders (blamed his crazy arm breaks on it, apparently).

Also his brother, Ozzie, and Jason Giambi.
   57. base ball chick Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3435801)
Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:29 PM (#3435790)

Health warning are as useful to the young athlete as warnings about drug use, drunk driving or STDs. They think they're immortal.

You can mention the small ball thing, that might get their attention.


- and then they notice that mcgwire didn't have no trouble fathering normal children back when he was shooting roids in college or after he finally stopped using roids in 2000 after 20 years of steady use

- and they notice that barry lamar didn't have no trouble screwing groupies

etcetcetc
   58. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:38 PM (#3435804)
For the record (hey! look at me! I'm over here!) I've been pointing that out for years, so obviously Buck is a smart guy for agreeing with me.

I've been pushing this Buck O'Neill point for years, too, though the audience for my writing is about a dozen people, nine of whom don't care about baseball.

I know if I were a 15-year-old baseball player, the connection of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds to steroids would have done more to improve my opinion of steroids than to harm my opinion of McGwire and Bonds. Especially when idiot sportswriters say things like "McGwire wouldn't have hit a single home run in the majors without steroids." Wow, steroids can take you from outside the majors to the brink of the Hall of Fame? Where can I get some?!?

When you're a kid, you don't really care about what Rick Reilly is going to write about you, or getting into the Hall of Fame, or embarrassing yourself in front of Congress. You care about being good at sports, looking buff, and getting chicks (which comes from the other two). Thanks to sportswriters harping on the steroid issue for ten years, telling us how much of an advantage steroids users get from simple pills or injections, millions of kids think that steroids are a magic ticket to athletic greatness, and they'll deal with the bad parts down the road.

That's the worst part of this whole "steroids scandal," and I think the media is as much to blame as the players. If steroids do so many wonderful things for athletes (that's almost all you ever hear about, except for the backne), it makes you wonder why they're illegal in the first place.
   59. My Name is Neo (Mr. Anderson) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:43 PM (#3435812)
Steroids do more than just make a player stronger. They improve eyesight, to the point where it's easier to see the spin on the seams. And steroids also quicken reflexes and allow the muscles fire more quickly, allowing a hitter to wait longer before committing to his swing. Pos is obviously a decent man, but he lets McGwire off the hook too easily, especially when he claims steroids didn't make him a better hitter. McGwire wants it both ways - to be able to say he apologized without tarnishing any of his records. It's just too convenient.
   60. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:45 PM (#3435817)
Does McGwire even have any records?
   61. Bob Tufts Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:45 PM (#3435819)
and don't forget the surge in androstenedione sales (a legal substance at the time) when it was found in McGwire's locker.
   62. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:48 PM (#3435822)
According to this site he also accused Wilson Alvarez, Bret Boone, Dave Martinez, and Tony Saunders (blamed his crazy arm breaks on it, apparently).


Also his brother, Ozzie, and Jason Giambi.


And Mike Crudale.

required.
   63. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:48 PM (#3435823)
They improve eyesight, to the point where it's easier to see the spin on the seams.


lets ban contacts, lasix and glasses
   64. Nasty Nate Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:55 PM (#3435837)
I know if I were a 15-year-old baseball player, the connection of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds to steroids would have done more to improve my opinion of steroids than to harm my opinion of McGwire and Bonds.


I'm 30 and it certainly does.
   65. Bob Tufts Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:07 PM (#3435859)
The actual effects of steroids on humans have never been scientifically quantified becuase of the moral issue about getting people to participate in a long term study.
   66. Mike Webber Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:07 PM (#3435860)
My best guess is there were about 4 MLB teams (100 players, give or take 20 between 1920 and 1940) worth of Negro Leaguers who wouldn't have been out of place in the majors.


DL - are you saying there were about 100 total players (with varying career lengths) or 100 every year for the 20 year period?

not arguing just curious.
   67. Greg K Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3435864)
lets ban contacts, lasix and glasses

Not to mention squinting
   68. Lassus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3435865)
I've been out.

MAN is Poz awesome.
   69. bunyon Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:10 PM (#3435871)
I'm 38, my legs are sore from a run 3 days ago and my office chair hurts my back. If there were a vial of anabolics in my office, most days I don't touch it because I'm mature, educated to the side effects and reasonably happy. But not every day for damned sure. If all it did was make my back not ache more than it used to or let me run 5 times a week instead of 3, I'd probably eventually give in.


Still, at the end, we have what we have: he used. He didn't ask us not to consider it and if he's self-deluded, so what? Discount him what you will, forgive him or not.
   70. base ball chick Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:16 PM (#3435882)
59. My Name is Neo (Mr. Anderson) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:43 PM (#3435812)

Steroids do more than just make a player stronger. They improve eyesight, to the point where it's easier to see the spin on the seams.


dear mr anderson

would you be kind enough to provide a link to some MEDICAL references showing that any anabolic steroid administered to a normal adult male age 25 - 40 (before the age of needing reading glasses, that is) with normal eyesight actually IMPROVES that eyesight?

the theory that HGH does that has long since been thrown in the garbage can

thank you
   71. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:17 PM (#3435885)
Steroids do more than just make a player stronger. They improve eyesight,
You forgot that they give precognition, too. (I mean, as long as we're making stuff up, why not?)
   72. Juan V Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:19 PM (#3435887)

You know, I think partly we romanticize baseball records to a degree we don't in other sports, but I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that since baseball players look more like us than do players in other sports (e.g. than 7-foot basketball acrobats or 6-5, 250 lb. football players that run a 4.5), we think those stars could be us if only we had worked harder or had better coaching or whatever. The use of PEDs seems to violate the illusion.


But wouldn't the use of PEDs create the idea that talent can be bought, therefore reinforcing the illusion?
   73. danielj Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:22 PM (#3435892)
But wouldn't the use of PEDs create the idea that talent can be bought, therefore reinforcing the illusion?

I would argue that "buying" talent is nonromantic. Obviously, this is a very subjective argument.
   74. Repoz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:23 PM (#3435893)
They improve eyesight,

Yeah...and Joe Migraine said it on the MLB Network!
   75. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:25 PM (#3435897)
I personally like Rob Neyer's take in his blog post and short podcast interview in his Sweetspot blog. He calls BS on some of McGwire's statements but is rather empathetic toward McGwire's BS.
   76. Greg Goosen at 30 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:30 PM (#3435907)
Since McGwire had about 10 years of doing illegal drugs and 9 years in retirement without discussing his usage, I'll forgive him. In 2029.
   77. SteveF Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:34 PM (#3435912)
but is rather emphatic toward McGwire's BS.


Did your fingers mean to type empathetic? I do stuff like that all the time too. I blame it on muscle memory.
   78. God Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:35 PM (#3435914)
If you used steroids, your muscles would have better memory too.
   79. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:36 PM (#3435917)
Argh, thanks for the catch.

I blame everyone but myself.
   80. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:42 PM (#3435925)
If you used steroids, your muscles would have better memory too.


Paradoxically, however, you would not want to talk about the past. . .
   81. Mark Donelson Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:49 PM (#3435931)
Yeah...and Joe Migraine said it on the MLB Network!

I think Repoz just outed himself as Jack Keefe. ;)
   82. depletion Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:54 PM (#3435937)
Rangers left-hander Darren Oliver ... acknowledges that there's a flip side to the fact that McGwire accomplished what he did with the assistance of steroids and other substances.

"Can I get that home run he hit off me back? My numbers could have been better. That could have been an extra win for me," Oliver said. "It's unfortunate for guys who didn't use steroids. Maybe they didn't play as long as guys who did, don't have the same numbers or didn't make as much money. That's not fair."

Forgive me for double posting this from a different thread. It's pretty irrelevant whether Poz or I forgive McGwire, the damage has been done to other players who played by the 1991 rules.
   83. Lassus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:00 PM (#3435941)
I love Darren Oliver, but at this exact moment I would like all professional ballplayers to stop whining about any aspect of playing a game for a living.
   84. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:06 PM (#3435951)
Posnanski is so much better a writer and a person than I am, it almost seems like nitpicking to argue with anything he writes. And I agree that it's kind of small to dwell on McGwire's belief that steroids didn't make him a better hitter, even though I don't buy that line for a minute. I have no doubt that he sincerely believes it himself.

But I still see a clear distinction between "forgiving" and forgetting, or between "forgiving" and historical amnesia. I don't see that McGwire needs to do any more apologizing, because after he's admitted using steroids and expressed his apologies once (many times within a few hours), what more can he say? In any case, I hope he's as good a hitting instructor as LaRussa thinks he'll be, and I wish him well.

But I draw the line at the Hall of Fame. That's an honor as well as a recognition of career value, and what McGwire did within the context of baseball was dishonorable, and IMO disqualifyingly so. That's "punishment" enough, and that's all the punishment he deserves, no more and no less.

***I wouldn't put Ty Cobb or Steve Carlton in my HoF for human beings, but that's another matter altogether.
   85. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:10 PM (#3435957)
But I draw the line at the Hall of Fame. That's an honor as well as a recognition of career value, and what McGwire did within the context of baseball was dishonorable, and IMO disqualifyingly so. That's "punishment" enough, and that's all the punishment he deserves, no more and no less.


What's your opinion on Gaylord Perry?
   86. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:13 PM (#3435962)

***I wouldn't put Ty Cobb or Steve Carlton in my HoF for human beings, but that's another matter altogether.


I was always under the impression that Lefty was just really, really crazy?
   87. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3435968)
What's your opinion on Gaylord Perry?

Spitballs are out in the open, and there's a clear and well-defined fine if you're caught using them. As I said in a long ago thread, if McGwire had done his juicing in front of a dugout full of observing opponents' eyes, four umpires, a ballpark full of fans, and an entire work force of closeup TV cameras, I'd view his offense quite a bit differently.
   88. Harlond Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:20 PM (#3435970)
McGwire's congressional testimony steers a course between admitting to criminal conduct and avoiding perjuring himself about his PED usage, and it seems patently obvious to me that this is what he is doing. He came as close to admitting PED usage as he could without inviting criminal prosecution, and as far as I can tell, since that testimony everyone has assumed he was using. I can see that people are mad about that testimony, but I expect a lot of them would sing a different tune if it was their butt facing possible prosecution.
   89. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:22 PM (#3435974)
I was always under the impression that Lefty was just really, really crazy?

That, plus a fair amount of "crazy" thoughts against Jews, along the usual lines of Unseen Controlling Forces, etc. But even beyond that he was just kind of creepy, though still eminently Cooperstownworthy.
   90. Srul Itza Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:22 PM (#3435973)
Oh goody. Thanks to Andy, we get to re-start the whole "were steroids against the rules or just against the law" and "what constitutes cheating" argument all over again. I can hardly wait to hear Tommy's take on this. Too bad I have him on ignore.
   91. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:24 PM (#3435979)
Oh goody. Thanks to Andy, we get to re-start the whole "were steroids against the rules or just against the alw" and "what constitutes cheating" argument all over again.

Hey, Srul, tell you what: You can have the rest of the argument to yourself. Just don't violate any community standards of fair play and decency, since there may be children lurking.
   92. X-Roid User Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:27 PM (#3435986)
Steroids do more than just make a player stronger. They improve eyesight, to the point where it's easier to see the spin on the seams. And steroids also quicken reflexes and allow the muscles fire more quickly, allowing a hitter to wait longer before committing to his swing. Pos is obviously a decent man, but he lets McGwire off the hook too easily, especially when he claims steroids didn't make him a better hitter. McGwire wants it both ways - to be able to say he apologized without tarnishing any of his records. It's just too convenient.


Wait, what?
   93. base ball chick Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:27 PM (#3435987)
srul

you can go to my blog and read MY take...
   94. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:28 PM (#3435989)
But I draw the line at the Hall of Fame. That's an honor as well as a recognition of career value, and what McGwire did within the context of baseball was dishonorable, and IMO disqualifyingly so. That's "punishment" enough, and that's all the punishment he deserves, no more and no less.

I agree with all of this up to the word "disqualifyingly." What is your philosophical objection to trying to adjust the statistical record as best we can, with the understanding that we may be wrong?(**)

(**) I assume you'll stick with your automatic disqualification stance if it comes out that Jeter was using. There's not a whole lot of reason to think he was -- beyond being a Yankee when at least two prominent Yankees used. We can say that, though, about hundreds of players for whom there's no extant evidence against, but who must have been using if the best guess as to percentages (upwards of 50%) are accurate.

If someone asked me about Captain Dreamboat and said the penalty for being wrong was my head going the way of Louis XVI's, I'd say "user."
   95. Chip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:29 PM (#3435991)
"Spitballs were out in the open."

Except for the elaborate lengths pitchers, catchers and other co-conspirators went to to hide the fact that they were loading/scuffing/cutting the ball.
   96. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:30 PM (#3435993)
I was always under the impression that Lefty was just really, really crazy?


That, plus a fair amount of "crazy" thoughts against Jews, along the usual lines of Unseen Controlling Forces, etc. But even beyond that he was just kind of creepy, though still eminently Cooperstownworthy.


Oh, that's right... a bit of googling caused me to remember that he got a bit of the illuminatti/12 Jewish Bankers bug a few years ago (he denies the interview was accurate, though).

Still, Carlton strikes me as more the Oliver Stone crazy than the Adolf Hitler crazy.

It can be difficult to keep your crazy Phillies of yesteryear straight. It's really unfair that Mike Schmidt hogged all the sanity.
   97. DL from MN Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:38 PM (#3436006)
I'm saying that I would estimate between 80 and 120 NGL players (educated guess) above MLB replacement level in any given year. Talent ebbed and flowed in the NGL days. Given a merger and no expansion you'd lose 20% of the MLB guys (80 players), 20% of the NGL guys (20 players) and the International and Pacific Coast Leagues would be pretty damned good with 100 extra now-AAAA caliber ballplayers and probably another 100 players who are AAA caliber from the 8 team NGL. I think it would be fascinating work to back up my guess with data but I've never taken the time.

It would be an interesting alternate reality if the majors had held off integration and after being given "open" status, the PCL Hollywood Stars had decided to integrate with former UCLA star Jackie Robinson on their way to the PCL declaring themselves a major league.
   98. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:39 PM (#3436007)
But I draw the line at the Hall of Fame. That's an honor as well as a recognition of career value, and what McGwire did within the context of baseball was dishonorable, and IMO disqualifyingly so. That's "punishment" enough, and that's all the punishment he deserves, no more and no less.

I agree with all of this up to the word "disqualifyingly." What is your philosophical objection to trying to adjust the statistical record as best we can, with the understanding that we may be wrong?(**)


I can see that as a task that would take about as long as it would take for Roseanne Barr to win a beauty contest---and she ain't getting any younger. The games can't be replayed and the records can't be altered---but we don't have to grant any further honors beyond that. There's absolutely no "obligation" to do anything of the sort.

You know what my favorite artifact of this whole past decade has been? The asterisk ball, because every time it's seen by more than one or two people, an argument starts, facts are countered with other facts, and the whole steroids issue is kept from being swept under some big old rug of Oprahesque "closure". Every person gets to make his own interpretation, and nobody is forced to STFU.
   99. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:40 PM (#3436009)
Oh, that's right... a bit of googling caused me to remember that he got a bit of the illuminatti/12 Jewish Bankers bug a few years ago (he denies the interview was accurate, though).

Still, Carlton strikes me as more the Oliver Stone crazy than the Adolf Hitler crazy.


Yeah, that's about my take, too. But still Major Creepy.
   100. zonk Posted: January 12, 2010 at 10:43 PM (#3436011)
Yeah, that's about my take, too. But still Major Creepy.


We should blame McCarver for being McCarver rather than playing more of a Crash Davis role. It's as if Crash let Nuke go on believing women get woolly.
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