McGwire story not a revelation, but a sign of the times
"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Just do it. He did.
As a matter of fact, lots of them did. It was just the thing to do and the
folks for whom they worked - teams and the parent "corporation," MLB - turned a
blind eye to what was going on. Actually, doing so was in the convoluted and
twisted best interests of baseball, a somewhat declining sport that was no
longer spoken of in the same context as Chevy, apple pie and mother.
Mark McGwire's recent "tell all and 'fess up" on the completely choreographed
interview with Bob Costas on the MLB Network was equivalent to someone eight
months pregnant approaching you with a "guess what?" Duh!! In front of the
most forgiving audience on the planet, the American sports fan, McGwire simply
confirmed what we all believed to be the case for years...before, during and
after his quest for the all-time home runs in a season record. Picture O.J.
Simpson coming to dinner and asking if you had a sharper knife or new pair of
shoes he could borrow. Aha, a clue!
McGwire just confirmed, he did not confess. The commissioner knew what was
going on, as did the players, trainers, managers, coaches, owners but there
were empty seats to be filled, television revenue to stream in, an interest
level that had to be raised and the players' association had gone on vacation
for all intents and purposes. To call this a well-kept secret is bordering on
the idiotic. To refer to it as denial is closer to the truth, a word that was
not bandied about very often in recent years...truth.
Everyone has done things of which we were not proud, epitomize youthful folly,
adult stupidity, recklessness, disregard of real or seeming rules and false
confidence that no one will notice...like the comic book you slipped under your
sweater or jacket in that candy store of the fifties or sixties, or music disk
in the eighties or nineties.
MLB set rules about performance-enhancing drugs but they transcended
performance in the bedroom and moved to the field without a female companion or
king-sized bed. The outcome was degree of usage, the actual stimulant,
frequency and the devil (or record-breaking) made me do it attitude.
Before his interview with MLB's Bob Costas, Mark McGwire was last seen testifying before Congress in 2005.
Steroids left the work-out facilities of major cities and were invited to the
locker and bathrooms of sports. Degree has now become an issue and
determinant, as well as admission. Alex Rodriguez will not be denied entry to
the Hall of Fame. McGwire might eventually get in...with an asterisk. Sammy
Sosa is on the bubble and Jason Giambi and Jose Canseco need not worry about
it, preferring rather realistically to concentrate on finding publishers to
undertake their personal revelations.
They are all the tip of the iceberg. McGwire said he took them to recover from
injuries, not to bulk up. Nice try, Mark!!
Is this cheating on the sport? Only because the sport said it was. Don't
jaywalk, cross at the corner. We jaywalk and do not get arrested. In NYC it
is a fine to expectorate on the street. To what? To spit. Ever see someone
arrested for doing that? How about speed limits? Let's not go there.
This is worse because of the sport.
Yes and because we made it so, the sport did and baseball, as well as football,
basketball and hockey are created to compete with natural talent imbued upon
the athletes, not robotic ones or those that are heightened thanks to medicinal
additives. No one really got hurt except for what putting those drugs into
one's body will do to them now, and in later years. Clearly, I am not
defending their actions. They did not play by the rules but the fact of the
matter is that everyone knew it without additional in-your-face evidence or
listening to confession at the local house of worship. What we wound up
getting was confirmation. They got here and there, in the record books, by
doing what they were told not to. Bad. Intentional avoidance and achievement
in a manner intended and stipulated by rules set forth by the sport.
How tough is it to understand that?
Everyone got juiced in celebratory fashion. It was the "thing" to do. Were
these illegal drugs, equivalent to heroin or just drugs that any of us can
obtain and use if we wish but which were, are, off limits to athletes? Therein
lies the rub, as the Bard would have said. One set of rules for the athletes
and none for the rest of us. Criminal prosecution? Not likely.
Forgive and forget? That is our style, in most cases. The vindictive, holier
than thou, never did a thing wrong in their lives and preaching purity media
that, on the surface, spews forth revulsion at these acts of impunity will not
move on. It is fodder for their efforts.
Barry Bonds will publish his own version, as will Sosa, and Canseco (again!)
will continue to seek headlines at every mention of steroids. Police do not
often arrest men that visit ladies of the night (and day), the hookers that
will always have an audience. Nor will the FBI arrest the athletes. They will
turn their attention to the suppliers...as they have already done, with 70+ of
The then-36-year old McGwire did much to resurrect a hurting badly sport when
he and Sammy Sosa raced for the home run title to break all other posted season
records of the past. The country was focused. Now he is the hitting coach of
the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sports are hypocritical, run by men who would be king, not commissioners, and
their misbegotten view of life is that they are omnipotent and all-seeing, not
to be questioned by anyone...fans, media, players, government...no one at all.
Is it over? Are performance-enhancing drugs a thing of the past? Do these
folks, in any sport, have the talent to obviate any repetition? Probably so,
with banishment from the kingdom of baseball if you step over the line. As for
the past, it will live there with the "it" being whatever took place in days
gone by. Life as we know it, on the diamonds from east to west and north to
south, will go on. We simply forgive them their transgressions. Sports have a
way of doing that because we want the action, the game, the competition, the
players, the highs (no pun intended) and the lows.
Will baseball regret what took place over the past couple of decades, and
You gotta be kidding!