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Mark McGwire: Baseball's Big Red Scare

Oct 29, 2009, 10:08 AM EDT

ESPN’s Howard Bryant, taking a page out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook, on baseball’s response to recent steroid stories  (i.e. David Ortiz) and the hiring of Mark McGwire:

Baseball responded curiously, if not brazenly. The league and the union both enthusiastically defended Ortiz without providing any evidence that could lead to his exoneration; and now, as the World Series is beginning, McGwire has resurfaced, with Selig’s exuberant blessing.

McGwire is not prohibited from working in baseball, and the Cardinals have broken no rules in hiring him. But he is today what he was in 2005 — a coward, accepting a job he knows he does not deserve.

Guilty until proven innocent; free to work but blackballed.  That’s exactly how it went during the Red Scare.  Is this really the level of discourse that will lead baseball out of the old era and into a new one?  Thank goodness Bryant doesn’t have the kind of power McCarthy had.

Communism was a legitimate threat in the 1940s and 50s, but McCarthy and his ilk decided to (a) overstate the threat so as to induce an irrational panic; and (b) fight the threat on the most irrelevant and ineffective of playing fields.  Steroids may or may not be a serious threat to the integrity of professional sports today, but Howard Bryant and his ilk are doing exactly the same thing.

As was the case with McCarthy, we’ll one day look back disapprovingly on this kind of rhetoric as well.

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  5. online sports - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    McGwire is a cheat
    Ok, so Mark McGwire came out and said he finally took steroids, but that doesn’t make him more ‘honest’ or ‘trustworthy’ than other baseball players who are still hiding their steroid usage. It just means that he finally had to crack before he was cracked by someone else. There are some bloggers listed at online sports sites like Dozensports.com who say McGwire is still on the level of a Hall of Famer. But I say McGwire is a big cheat and I have lost any respect I had for him before. He should be in the Hall of Shame.

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