That’s it? The month is over already? It will be, at least by the time we reach Monday. February has always been my least favorite month, its brevity only being one of those reasons. It’s cold, it’s dreary, and its devoid of most sporting activities: football season is over, baseball season hasn’t started yet, I don’t care much about hockey, and basketball doesn’t really start catching my interest until we get to March Madness and the NBA Playoffs.
However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of news about those out-of-season sports making the headlines anyway. While I plan to address the NFL labor situation at some point next week, for now I’ll aim my daggers at a big story from the baseball world, where Mark McGwire is apparently unhappy with his estranged brother’s decision to publish a book that details his use of performing-enhancing drugs.
Pardon me if I don’t bring out the crying towel in a show of sympathy for the embattled former slugger. Jay McGwire’s book, “Mark and Me: Mark McGwire and the Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret”, is scheduled for publication this Monday, and in it the younger brother of the one-time season HR king debunks McGwire’s claims that his steroid use was only to recover from injuries, and not to enhance his performance. McGwire is apparently saddened by this, and he’s been quick to remind us that Jay McGwire’s claims aren’t the truth, and again, that he only used steroids to recover from injuries and not to enhance his performance in any way.
Well, we’ve heard this tripe before — in the form of similar wishful fabrications from the other steroid cheats of the era who’ve been brought under the microscope, like Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and others — and as usual, my only wish would be for someone to stick a towel in someone’s mouth, because I’m just tired of people like McGwire who find it incapable of simply telling the truth, for better or worse.
We all know that your performance was aided by the use of steroids. You do — I do — Tony LaRussa did — your brother did — Jose Canseco did — anyone who’s paid even the slightest bit of attention to the medical revelations over the years as to what steroids give to an athlete and how they help them to gain an advantage over fellow competitors knows.
McGwire wants us to feel sorry for him, he wants us to feel like he was some sort of a victim here, but he’s not at all — the game of baseball was the victim from self-serving, selfish people like McGwire who put their own goals and wishes above what was right and what was for the good of the game. We’re supposed to believe that he had no choice, that the culture of the game demanded that he join in with the crowd on the steroid path because “everyone else was doing it”? What a crock — we wouldn’t listen to that sort of lame of excuse if it were coming from our children while sitting in the principal’s office, but we’re supposed to go along with the idea that adults like McGwire and his contemporaries had no other option but to follow the crowd?
What makes that defense the most ludicrous is that there were those did show some backbone — and they were the ones — or as it’s looking more and more like, the few — who chose to stay away from the temptation of steroids. Frank Thomas did. Ken Griffey, Jr. was another one — despite the fact that, for the entire second half of his career, he battled numerous career-hindering injuries along the way. You want me to feel sorry for someone — then how about those guys who did it the right way, who didn’t let the temptation of millions of dollars and the glory of the public lead them into adapting a “whatever it takes” mantra — but who are going to be forever soiled by the guilt of association they have to bear for the failings of others.
Is Jay McGwire a good guy here? Of course, not — but in a sense he’s doing exactly what his brother did: he’s doing something not prohibited by the current law to make himself some extra green, get his face into the news, and better himself and his own situation — even if it’s not the right thing to do, morally or ethically, and even if it means he takes advantage of someone else along the way. For Mark McGwire to find this behavior troubling shows that, even while he may not understand what the word “truth” means, he does show a nice grasp of hypocrisy.
In the meantime, until he’s ready to actually come completely clean and to admit that he knew exactly what he was doing when he was on the juice, and that he knew exactly how much his passing of Roger Maris in 1998 was due to that steroid use (just as one example), then my sincere hope is that McGwire just learns to say “no comment” again and shut the hell up. He’s not doing himself any favors with his continuing efforts to try and play us all for buffoons with short-memories and a propensity to forgive.
It’s been pretty obvious that McGwire’s sudden conversion to telling the “truth” at all was a result of his horrible Hall Of Fame voting totals he’s received since he’s been eligible on the ballot, as well as the cold shoulder that the game itself has given him since his embarrassing performance on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly, given everything else he’s done to this point, his recent admissions have been — like his steroid use during his playing days — self-serving, first and foremost. His goal, I’m sure, is to try and work himself back into the good graces of those who vote for Cooperstown — but for now, he’ll have to settle for a well-deserved Ro-Sham-Bo Award instead (for which, thankfully, no drug testing is required). Enjoy it, Mark — if there’s any justice, that’s all you’ll ever end up ever getting.