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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.

Mark McGwire
Before his interview with MLB's Bob Costas, Mark McGwire was last seen testifying before Congress in 2005.
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.

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 them.

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 perhaps longer?

You gotta be kidding!