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When is Ron Villone going to apologize to Mark McGwire?

Jan 22, 2010, 7:34 AM EDT

Ron Villone headshot.jpgEventually people will start playing baseball again and all of this will be forgotten. Until then we’ll have old timers like Fergie Jenkins saying silly things like this:

Ferguson Jenkins says Mark McGwire owes an apology to all those pitchers who gave up his home runs. The Hall of Fame ace sent an open letter* to The Associated Press
this week, telling the former home-run king: “You have not even begun
to apologize to those you have harmed.”
“How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs of them?”

“You have yet to apologize to all the pitchers you faced while juiced,”
Jenkins wrote. “You altered pitchers’ lives. You may have shortened
pitchers careers because of the advantage you forced over them while
juiced. Have you thought about what happened when they couldn’t get you
out and lost the confidence of their managers and general managers? You
even managed to alter the place some athletes have achieved in record
books by making your steroid-fueled run to the season home run record.”

Best tidbit from the story: STATS LLC researched and found out that 51 pitchers gave up  homers to McGwire in what
turned out to be their final major league seasons, including Bert Blyleven and Donnie Moore.  I can only assume that Murray Chass and that crowd will now change their Hall of Fame vote for Blyleven and start blaming Donnie Moore’s suicide on McGwire.

Of course what STATS LLC has not done is analyze how many home runs McGwire hit off pitchers who were juicing.  For example, he hit two dingers off of Roger Clemens in his career, so I assume he need not apologize there. He hit five off Ron Villone, who was named in the Mitchell Report. Other Mitchell Report alumni who served up home runs to McGwire: Kevin Brown, Jim Parque, Darren Holmes and Steve Woodard.

Given how cursory and incomplete the Mitchell Report was, and given that pitchers have, if anything, been overrepresented in positive PED tests since 2004, there are no doubt many, many more to whom McGwire need not apologize. I’d compile a list of pitchers who should apologize to McGwire — ‘roiders who struck Mac out and prevented him from hitting home runs — but that would be a pretty extensive undertaking.

How about this: instead of wasting our time telling everyone who should apologize to whom, we just drop this pathetic, sanctimonious game, accept that the era in which Mark McGwire played was rotten with steroid users and figure out how to put it all in historic context?  Or is that too immature?

*Open letter?! Arrrrgghh!

  1. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    I saw this story yesterday and I couldn’t wait to see what Craig had to say about it. I knew it would be good but…Ron Villone? Nice.
    .
    I’m most excited about another “Craig doesn’t get it, why does Craig love McGwire, have you ever thought about why they are called performance enhancing, these stats shouldn’t count, MY GOD WON’T YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN, CRAIG!” thread. Those are my favorite.

  2. Lawrence From Plattekill - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    You’re becoming a bore, Craig. I’m going to go read Dugout Central.

  3. Joey B - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    “You’re becoming a bore, Craig. I’m going to go read Dugout Central.”
    Not for nothing Craig, but why the daily defense of McGwire? He cheated, and admitted to it. To be honest, if your intent is to defend McGwire, you’d probably be best off letting it die a natural death.

  4. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    Enough Already!!!! Craig, you’re great at what you do, but what’s with this obsession???? I’m sure Mcguire’s Atrophy issue has been resolved with all the attention you’ve been giving his “boys” latey. ;>P oo

  5. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    I don’t know guys. Craig is a baseball blogger. He makes about 8-10 posts a day. He talks about what’s going on in baseball. Yesterday Jenkins said this stupid thing. Craig kind of has to mention it, doesn’t he? It’s not Craig’s fault that ever day someone says something even more asinine about McGwire. It’s like they keep trying to top each other.
    .
    If you don’t want to read any more about McGwire I get that. Skip it then. Craig will have another post up shortly, I’m sure.

  6. What a ridiculous homer you are Craig. - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    That fact that you seriously believe this crap is pathetic.
    Finally baseball people are no longer scared to call out freaks like McGwire, and you call them “immature”? The only thing immature about this story is you using the “but everyone else was doing it too” argument. My 6 year old knows better.
    The whole era wasn’t on steroids, some of the best players were. AND MANY WERE NOT.
    Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Curt Shilling, Tony Gwynn, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Cal Ripkin, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neil, Ken Griffey Jr, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Paul Molitor, Will Clark, Fred McGriff, Jim Thome, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter… just off the top of my head.
    McGwire is a liar, a cheater, and a thief. You’re a homer, an apologist, and a baby. Take of the “Big BaCne” jersey and deal with it.

  7. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    That’s a pretty extensive list. How do you know that none of them used?

  8. This story isn't going away, - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    until the proud Cardinal organization fires this joke of a man.
    He has no place in baseball.

  9. Rays fan - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    Joey B–Craig Calcaterra’s recommending that everyone stop the self-righteous witch hunt isn’t defending McGwire’s actions.
    Jonny5–He also isn’t making up the stories, he’s commenting on published reports. He’s a blogger, that’s what he does. When the news outlets stop reporting on the McGwire story, I expect he’ll stop commenting on it.
    As for Ferguson Jenkins, once I hear he’s called every batter he faced to apologize for the effects of amphetamines and cocaine on his fastball, I’ll support the assertions in his “open letter.”

  10. Rick A. - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    You know, I’m really tired of this McGwire story too and would prefer not to read as much as I am about it.
    However, I will defend Craig’s obsession with it.
    Look at Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame vote totals. He was almost elected. Who has been his most ardent suporter? Right, Rich Lederer. How many articles has he written about Blyleven on his blog? Quite a lot.
    Look at the AL MVP and AL CY Young voting this year. The best player and pitcher were elected. Who was one of the most prolific writers who championed their candidacy? Right, Joe Psonanski. How many articles did he write about them stating that they were clearly the best candidates? Between SI and the KC Star and his blog, probably many dozens.
    My point is, is that it seems that to make any headway with the mainstream media and the BWAA, you need to inundate them with numerous articles about your view of certain players and/or certain stats.
    Maybe the mainstream media will eventually change their feeling about McGwire in time, but we need someone to continually write about this issue, to eventually wear them down. So keep fighting the good fight, Craig, in regards to McGwire.

  11. I don't know none of them used, - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    But I do know that none have ever been implicated in anything. I also know that all those guys, and many more, appear very clean.
    I guess I know this in much the same way that Craig “knows” the whole era was dirty (laughable).
    It doesn’t take a detective to know that Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, and Clemens were dirty.
    It also doesn’t take a detective to know that Ozzie Smith, Greg Maddux, Tony Gwynn and Randy Johnson were clean.

  12. If you think cocaine... - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    … and amphetamines had remotely close to the same effect on the game as steroids, you clearly know nothing about PEDs.

  13. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Dude, he’s been defending the cheat left and right, granted steroids were used by many, most we will never even know about. But seriously Mcguire lied in his apology, as if it wasn’t common knowledge that steroids are a performance enhancing drug, enough so to become outlawed, not to mention a dangerous drug… Now I’m not one to villify Mcguire, but in all fairness, he deserves to be called out by reporters more than the reporters deserve to be castigated on my favorite blog. That’s all. Besides the obvious testicular nuzzling of Marky boy here ;>Poo, I think Craig is in the upper echelon of Baseball writers.

  14. This isn't a which hunt, - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Its a bunch of people who don’t accept McGwire’s fake apology, don’t think he belongs in baseball, and wants him gone from the game forever.
    Nobody cares much about Ron Villone because he wasn’t the one rewriting the record book. Hes a loser too, but he’s also a virtual nobody.
    The best of the cheaters collected the most glory and the most money before the public knew what was going on. Now that they do, naturally, the guys who stole the most get the most negative attention.

  15. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    And just fyi, I was only having some fun… Craig’s a big boy and is probably getting a kick out of this….. Attorney’s usually have thick skin, you know years of profitting from the misery of others has that skin thickening effect…. Zing!

  16. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    I agree with you that those players appear very clean. I don’t condone the actions of the “dirty” players, and I applaud the actions of the “clean” players. At least I would if I knew who they all were. When Craig says the whole era was dirty (and I’m not at all sure that he ever said anything of the sort, but if he did…) he doesn’t mean that everyone was on PEDs. He means that quite a few of the players were using. We just don’t know for sure.
    .
    Yes, I agree that McGwire and Bonds were “dirty” and Sosa et al probably were too. I also agree that it’s very likely that Maddux and Gwynn were not (although we don’t know for sure). But in between these 2 extremes is a huge grey area. We will NEVER have a comprehensive list. So, we can’t just make one because we think we know who did. I think that most people would have felt pretty good about putting Paul Byrd on the “clean” list just a few years ago.
    .
    My point is we can’t just willy nilly start making lists based on assumptions and what we feel in our hearts.

  17. Gohare - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Craig didn’t say the whole era was dirty he said it was ”rotten with steroid users.” He says this as a result of the numerous players that have either admitted using or have been exposed as users. As a result of this when talking about records/stats from this era we should remember the context. Just like you put things into context by talking about the dead ball era.
    The real question is why the clean players you mention didn’t push for drug testing or harsher penalties for drug cheats. They could have forced the union to back off from its anti-testing stance. The players that kept quiet allowed the use to become wide spread and now they have to live with the fact they will always be associated with the steroid era.
    This could actually be a positive for the players that are assumed clean. How much better does Griffey’s homerun total look for example?

  18. To Gohare: - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    At the very least, Craig is telling us to lay off McGwire because the whole era was rotten. I completely disagree.
    The notion that you can blame the clean players for not turning in the dirty ones at the time is pretty self righteous IMO. Players have long had a code that what happens in the locker room stays there. I’m not saying that’s necessarily right, but everyone knew those have been the rules from the dawn of the game.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting the blame for the steroid era on the dirty players. As Andy Van Slyke said,
    “There’s a lot of finger-pointing by Mark McGwire. He blames it on not being tested and he blames it on the era. Why would you blame baseball for taking steroids?
    “That’s like me saying the reason I was drunk-driving was because I knew that on this particular highway, they didn’t have anything for me to blow into.”

  19. To motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    I disagree. It’s very appropriate to assume innocence for most, and yet use common sense when identifying people who were clearly dirty.
    There is no perfect solution for identifying all the cheaters, we know that. That fact, however, doesn’t mean we have to excuse those who clearly were guilty. Your right, about Paul Byrd, I wouldn’t have guessed him either, but then, the thing about cheating is that some people always get away with it, while others don’t.
    I have no proof that Sammy Sosa was cheating, and right up until he admitted it (in between all his lies), I had no proof on McGwire either. Then, if you needed proof to know what those two guys were doing, clearly, you aren’t interested in reality.
    It is for everyone individually to decide whether or not a certain players accomplishments are legitimate. Some people will be more skeptical than others, and that’s fine.
    Excusing those most obvious cheaters because we know we cant catch every single cheater in the era is unacceptable. McGwire deserves all the wrath he gets.

  20. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    I agree with you. We should use common sense. We will never get everybody right. Some won’t get caught. It is up to everyone to decide whether certain accomplishments are legitimate. (Although I would maintain that we shouldn’t be labeling all accomplishments as either completely legit or illegit. I think it’s reasonable to try determine to what extent the numbers are legit.)
    .
    I am interested in reality. And, the reality is that McGwire and Bonds would have hit a hell of a lot of HRs even if they had never done roids. Everyone will have their own opinion about how many.
    .
    You’re right that McGwire deserves some wrath. But he’s not the monster that a lot of people make him out to be. And when people like Jenkins get up on their soap boxes and paint things with their ill conceived, poorly thought out, and hypocritical brushes they should be taken to task as well. They can say whatever they want, but they don’t just get to say whatever they want without someone else pointing out the flaws in their logic. I would argue that it is necessary for people like Craig to point out these flaws. Especially when someone who should know better starts talking about how McGwire owes an apology to theoretic pitchers that he wronged. Because that is absolutely ridiculous.

  21. Gohare - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    That’s a pretty awful analogy really. Cheating at a sport is the same as drink driving? 1000s of people die each year through drink driving, it shouldn’t be trivialised.
    How is it self rightous to expect people to turn in cheats? I didn’t say the clean players had to turn in the cheats but they also didn’t have to vehemently oppose drug testing. There’s a difference between turning a blind eye and actively allowing the cheating to continue.
    The issue isn’t why McGwire used. It’s obvious that he, and every steriod user was cheating to get an advantage. The question is whether tougher testing and tougher penalties would have either caught cheats or persuaded some from taking PED’s. It is blatantly obvious that it would have so why didn’t the clean players push for this?
    Loyalty? This is loyalty to players that are in your own words liars, cheaters, and thiefs. Why anyone defend this? I hardly think players like Derek Jeter are going to be ostracized in the Yankee clubhouse.
    There is a contradiction here. You don’t want clean players to be tarred with the same brush yet it was their culture of silence that allowed things to get so bad. I agree that not all players were dirty and the dirty ones should be punished but like I said it will always be the steriod era.

  22. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Jenkins logic was a bit off base, but it certainly wasn’t hypocritical. Craig can call him out for it if he chooses, but in the steroid story, attacking the guys who finally have built up the stones to call out their peers seems like missing the forest for the trees.
    I have no idea how many home runs McGwire would have hit without steroids, but I don’t know that it would have been “a hell of a lot” either. I honestly don’t know if that idiot would have hung around long enough to hit a hell of a lot of anything if not for sauce.
    I don’t think McGwire is a monster, I think he’s a cheater, liar, and thief. While he clearly doesn’t owe every random pitcher an apology (as many were cheating also), I’d say he, and those like him, owe a general apology to the clean players in the game, of which there are many. That apology shoud include being honest about why he cheated (which he clearly hasn’t), because the apology he gave was absolutely insulting.
    Would you have been happier with Fergie Jenkins comments if he said McGwire owed an apology to whoever would have been playing first base for the Cardinals and As had he not been taken up a roster spot by cheating? I mean, come on now, by McGwire’s own words, he used steroids to “stay on the field”.
    Now maybe the 25th man on the roster would have been juicing too, we’ll never know, but that doesn’t change the fact that we do know about McGwire, and there is no reason he shouldn’t be ripped for it.
    Pointing out the flaws in Jenkins’ statement is OK. There are flaws. It just drastically misses the point IMO.

  23. Rays fan - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    “If you think cocaine and amphetamines had remotely close to the same effect on the game as steroids, you clearly know nothing about PEDs.”
    1) I did not say that amphetamines or cocaine are as effective a PED as steroids. That would indeed be stupid. The point is that they are none the less drugs that many players, including Jenkins, have illegally used as PEDs. I do consider a drug user going off on another drug user as a form of hyprocrisy. I also do not think it would be appropriate to villify one group because their chosen drug happened to “work better”–all of them have horrible side effects and long term effects on health. All of them also have legitimate uses in the hand of physicians under the proper indications.
    2) As for how much I know about PEDs? I’m a physician, and am in fact a certified drug test reviewer. So, unless you are too, I’ll wager I know a tad more than you do on the topic.

  24. awful analogy? - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Wow, relax drama queen. Nobody is cheapening drunk driving by making the comparison. And for the record, people die every year as a result of steroids also.
    There was clearly a time in baseball where calling out your peers was unacceptable. Remember when Canseco first came out talking? He was IMMEDIATELY black balled. Players called him a nut job and a liar. We all know how that turned out.
    Do I wish more players had called out these guys at the time? Sure. Did Bud Selig absolutely drop the ball on the issue? Absolutely.
    Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting the bulk of the blame on the cheaters sticking needles in their butts in the bathroom stall. Trying to shift the blame to their peers for being too scared to call them on it is a pretty weak argument.

  25. Rays fan - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    1) You don’t need to villify McGwire to state that what he did was wrong.
    2) I’ve yet to state whether I personally think McGwire belongs in the Hall, nor has Craig Calcaterra. In fact, there are some very legit arguments outside of steroids not to vote for him–chiefly that no matter how many HRs he hit, he was still basically a one-trick pony. When Ken Rosenthal wrote that he wasn’t voting for McGwire because he wasn’t a complete enough ballplayer, my response was “fair enough.”
    3) Many think McGwire was lying with his apology. I get it. I also disagree. I think he actually believes the nonsense he spouted. I also agree with Craig Calcaterra that it’s irrelevant. Everyone already knew McGwire took steroids and had already tarnished whatever legacy people think he had. The relevant part is that he, and many others did take them. He thus deserves much of the punishment he’s taken–just not the hypocrisy, the sanctimony, or the tar and feathers.

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