Integrity 01/12/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: baseball writers, Hall of Fame, mark mcgwire, mlb, mlb baseball, steroids, tony larussa
Mark McGwire used steroids! Wow! What a shocker! As news, this revelation ranks right up there with the news flash that the sun sets in the west.
Let me state from the onset that this post is not about McGwire getting in to the Hall of Fame. If he gets in, fine. If not, fine. I have no feeling either way on the McGwire Hall candidacy.
Sure, I understand that for years McGwire has danced around the steroid issue. He repeatedly told congress when asked about his usage in a 2005 hearing that he was
there to talk about the future, not the past. But the innuendo had chased him from the game. You knew that when St Louis Cardinal manager Tony Larussa hired McGwire as the Card’s hitting coach during the off-season that this day had to come. Larussa wanted to bring his former (and some say fallen) star back to the game that he loved and that had defined him for most of his adult life. Larussa had to know that this would ultimately force McGwire to go public with his past. For his part, Larussa says that he did not know that McGwire had used steroids until he received a call from McGwire the morning of January 11, 2010. All Larussa knew was that the Cardinals ran a clean strength and conditioning program. Larussa also knows all the revelations that have come out from that era. Larussa ‘knew’ about McGwire, but he never asked the question, therefore he did not know. Baseball ‘knew’ about steroids, but turned a blind eye and counted up riches beyound belief. Heck even the fans ‘knew.’ Apparently the only people who did not know were the writers who watched players double and triple their home run output along with their size. These writers kept their head in the sand, or turned a blind eye to what was happening, and now talk about how we all were fooled or cheated. They were either incredibly obtuse, or were complicit to behavior they now condemn and distance themselves from.
As I have shared previously, I emotionally came back to baseball during baseball’s summer of love. I, like most fans, was disheartened during the work stoppage of ’94 and ’95. I still followed baseball when the game resumed in late April of ’95, and the Rockies first ever playoff appearance at the end of that season made baseball easier for me to accept, but something was missing. The magical home run chase in 1998 changed all that. I was a season ticket holder in Colorado, and made sure to see every swing by Sosa and McGwire when the Cubs and Cards came to town. In addition, Colorado had the good fortune to be the host of the All Star Game that season. The main attraction that year was the home run derby. With both Sosa and McGwire locked on pace to break the single season HR total of 61, along with such luminaries Jim Thome, A Rod and Griffey, Jr., swinging in the thin air, it was going to be quite a show. (Sosa came to Denver but had to withdraw from derby participation.) I was sitting at Coors Field during the Derby with 3 buddies and we, as fans, talked about steroid usage as it related to the players we were watching. We did not know, but we ‘knew.’ We were not sure who used, but we had our suspicion. That assumption did not diminish the pleasure of the event, or of the great home run chase that season. Both players involved that summer have been implicated in steroid usage. One has now admitted it. Still, baseball cashed in on the new popularity of the game, and writers covered every swing. Many were apparently too blind to see what we saw. Yet many of these same writers who enjoyed increased readership because of baseball’s returning popularity and thus cashed in themselves now feel that they must protect the integrity of the game. They will not vote for anyone associated with steroids for the Hall of Fame. They did not mind, however, when the ball bashing kept the parks full and therefore kept them employed. In a very real sense, they owe their livelihood to the very people they covered and built up at the time, but now villafy. We all ‘knew’ what was going on, yet these pundits did not? These writers vote on Hall membership because they know better than we do. They have access to locker rooms and travel with the teams. They have more exposure to the game and players than the average fan, therefore they are better qualified to judge. With all that access, they did not know at the time?
Apparently the one of the biggest flaws of many players who used steroids is that they have not admitted their usage nor been contrite for their transgression. Is it not
time that the same people calling for these acts of contrition make one of their own? Many of the writers who now pontificate about how these players stained the game were in a position to know at the time, yet said nothing and thus were complicit in the era as well. Perhaps it is time for these bloviators to ‘man up’ and come clean themselves. Stop with the hypocrisy. If the writers can not come clean and admit their complicity in keeping the story quiet within the steroid era, then it is time to take the writers out of the Hall selection process. If these individuals did not have the moral fortitude to be honest about what was going on at the time, why should they now have the moral authority to sit in judgement on Hall membership?