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Glanville: "too many players made a different choice than McGwire did"

Jan 22, 2010, 10:29 AM EDT

Doug Glanville.jpgI taunted Doug Glanville pretty badly an hour ago and I feel kinda bad about it, so to make up I’d like to link his excellent NYT column yesterday in which he absolutely nails the McGwire thing:

In McGwire’s admission, he explained how he was doing his
job, and his torment and regret seemed genuine even as he spat out the
usual clich├ęd excuses many players have used: injuries and recovery,
desperation and peer pressure, ignorance and breadwinning, culture and
society.

In fact, I understand all those reasons. I really do, because I was
there too, just like everyone else in the major leagues then who was
trying to stay there. I also felt all those pressures, one way or
another. I tore a hamstring tendon in a contract year that put me on
the shelf for two months. (A tendon that was at the root of my game –
speed.) My father was chronically ill in the years just after McGwire
broke the single-season home run record, a period during which I was
stressed and saw my own statistics decline.

So I get it. But the problem is, too many players made a different
choice than McGwire did in the face of similar situations. I can’t
claim to know exactly what he was going through during the time he
decided to take steroids, but I am confident that there were other
players who dealt with the same challenges and played clean. There
really isn’t any excuse.

To the extent I’ve defended McGwire it’s not been a defense of his taking steroids. It’s been a defense against the over-the-top moralisim and hypocrisy with which which his statement was met and the desire to extract something more out of the man than a confession and an apology for his acts. McGwire is but a man who is still very much deluded about what he did and why. It’s not really my concern. That’s between him and his conscience. The writers and the historians and the public will figure out what it meant for baseball, the records and the Hall of Fame.

But that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was wrong. No, it wasn’t capital murder of the game of baseball, but it was wrong. And unlike everyone else who has weighed in, Doug Glanville was there. He was a Major League baseball player in the late 90s, subject to the same temptations to which Mark McGwire fell victim. Indeed, the temptations for a player like Glanville may very well have been greater than they were for a man like McGwire, who had already made millions and possessed a World Series ring.

Glanville made the right choice by the rules, by the law and by his own conscience, and he may very well have had a shorter and less lucrative baseball career than he could have had as a result. So if anyone could be excused for lashing out at McGwire and the other steroids users it’s a guy like Glanville.  But he’s not lashing out. He’s offering perhaps the most sensible take of this I’ve seen from anyone.  We should laud him for the decisions he made back in the 90s. We should laud him for his latest column.

And we should also ask ourselves why, if Glanville isn’t flying off the handle here, so many other people are. 

  1. Jonny5 - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    You’re redeemed! Now let it die!!! LOL!!

  2. Motherscratcher - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    This is an excellent post.

  3. Linda - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    A measured, honest, intellegent response. No surprise here. As a lifelong Phils fan, I’m more than aware that Doug Glanville, in his time in Philly as with other cities, was class and intelligence personified. I’ve always wondered why he hasn’t been called to a more public office for MLB – they sure could use him!

  4. Joe - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Craig, I couldn’t agree more. McGwire and others deserve criticism, but not lynching. Glanville is right too. The pressures Big Mac faced were real, but others had the gumption to resist them. I hope more baseball writers come around to your position and place this issue in its proper perspective.

  5. Chris - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    The hypocracy starts wherethe media and public forgive the dopers like Howe, Gooden, and Strawberry. Give them chance after chance, but players like McGwire are to be crusified? Now i guess you nonathletes don’t think so bad about Rose?

  6. GiantsFan - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    Great post! Great atitude and no judgement unlike Clark,Fisk and others…I wonder if who we root for has an effect on our individual beliefs on the subject…?

  7. GiantsFan - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    I agree….Glanville is a class act unlike others who seem bitter and judgemental(Clark, Fisk, Jenkings and others)…..all of us, want to suceed and some at a higher cost than others..so it goes. I wonder if it who you root for as an affect on are feelings about Mac and other roid era players.( my team didn’t have any)

  8. Adam - Jan 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    I’m outraged because, ultimately, I’m supposed to just ‘move on’ from this mess?
    I’ve spent quite enough of my hard-earned money to support a sport that condoned artificially-enhanced competition, lying, and enough bullsh*t to coat every ballfield in the MLB. Sorry. I can’t do it anymore.
    Mac, I’m sure your tearful confession just happened to take place after five years of silence and right before you are to emerge from the sidelines to work in the sport again. Total coincidence.
    Barry, I’m sure your head grew by five or six pounds by pure happenstance. Of course you didn’t know what someone was injecting in you. Not your fault!
    Selig, I know you did all you could to help the game. Thank you for making sure your sport’s drug testing looks clownish next to Olympic standards.
    To the rest, I’m sorry I can’t continue to fund your league.
    I just can’t do it anymore.

  9. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 22, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    NEW YORK – 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 off them?” Jenkins said during a telephone interview Wednesday.
    YOU CAN FIND THIS AT MSNBC BASEBALL SECTION.

  10. Ron - Jan 22, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    Bye.

  11. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    NEW YORK – 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 off them?” Jenkins said during a telephone interview Wednesday.
    YOU CAN FIND THIS AT MSNBC BASEBALL SECTION.

  12. willmose - Jan 22, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Did other players make different choices? How the heck to you or we know that? Grow a pair and grow up.

  13. Simon DelMonte - Jan 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    I have been waiting to say this. And I know I will get no support. But here goes.
    I don’t think using steroids is wrong. I don’t think it should be illegal. I don’t understand why a legitimate scientific advance is treated as cheating if you take it in a pill or a shot but not if you use it as a sneaker or a training method. I don’t have any problem with any athlete over 21 using steroids or HGH or blood doping. And I don’t think that baseball was hurt at all by the steroid era. I would even suggest that it was helped immensely. We all loved that home run chase, didn’t we?
    There. I said it. I’ve been waiting to say this for years. But it’s how I feel. I want steroids legalized and regulated. They aren’t any different than any other drug humans use to improve themselves in some way. And at least with steroids, as opposed to recreational drugs, you take them to make yourself better.

  14. Darryl - Jan 22, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    Oh, c’mon. And yet you probably believe that the NFL is legit, right? I remember watching college and pro football back in the 70’s, when, if you had a lineman at 6’3″ or 6’4″ weighing 260 or so, that was considered huge. Now, every single pro team (or just about) has an entire offensive line of 300 pounders, who run as fast as Carl Crawford. But there’s no steroid problem in the NFL, right, Adam??? The NFL’s clean??? Really???

  15. chris - Jan 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    Jenkins didn’t mention that pitchers have been caught to & i don’t understand the CHEATING statements? Spitballs, Scuffedballs, Nail files, stealing signs. All forms of cheating in the rulebook for decades. Not until 2003 was this the case for steroids. Baseball wanted those HR’S. For those that say they were against the law, so was alchol during prohibition and the media looks back on players of that era and celebrate them? These stories sell, magazines and tickets just the same. I know it made for more HR’S, but that is what baseball needed and now what do those players get?

  16. MarkM - Jan 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    If you are keeping up with things, doing a little research; you might come to the conclusion that several players didn’t use PEDs near as much or as often as other players. And some players probably didn’t take PEDs at all. There is a difference between being on a steady diet of PEDs and maybe using them a few times in your career. But your right, who knows who took what and how much. It’s just a guess.

  17. Carlos - Jan 22, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    I believe the NFL is far from clean as witnessed by those monster sized lineman. I don’t know how much testing is done by colleges or high schools so athletes might still be bulking up before they make the pros. And young baseball players from the Dominican may be taking all kinds of PEDs before they start playing in the U.S. And I don’t know how long these drugs stay in the bloodstream. Athletes might start taking them again as soon as the off season starts and be clean by spring training. Or they may have found some new performance enhancers that are neither illegal or hard to get. There are a lot of drugs and supplements that can be gotten over the counter at your friendly neighborhood drug store. The team Doctor and trainers are still well stocked with everything from iceyhot, pain killers, cortisone shots, etc.

  18. BG in Bama - Jan 22, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    It’s interesting that Fergie Jenkins, a coke-head, would throw stones at someone when he lives in a glass house.

  19. Al B. - Jan 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    What is all the commotion for. You wanted the man to come clean and he did and now you want to bash him for that. I for one was caught up with the homerun chase and thought it was what baseball needed steroids or no steriods. It was not banned from baseball at the time so move on. You mean to tell me that these guys were the only ones taking any kind of enhancement drugs, come on people be real. Besides the commissoner had to know that these guys were on something, but what would you like him to do when all the stadiums were filled during this era and baseball was thriving. Everybody please move on allready. Thank you

  20. rdb - Jan 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Then don’t, Adam. In the meantime, stop trying to make this about you. It’s not.

  21. Bernie Wasmund - Jan 24, 2010 at 3:17 AM

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  22. Matt C - Jan 25, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    I loved watching Doug Glanville play, and I love reading his insightful columns now. But he made close to $12,000,000 in his “short” career – about the same amount that I could make if I worked 24/7 from now until 2079.
    My point is, when will we hear from someone who was truly a victim of a decision to not use PED’s? Someone with decent Triple-A numbers in the late ’90’s who never got the call?

  23. MarkF - Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    It is almost as if people are suggesting that MLB players felt pressure to “repay” fans over the ill-feelings created by the 1994/95 strike. Those players who took on this challenge decided that using PEDs would be worth the risk to their collective consciences and while this is difficult to stomach, it does not come as a surprise to me. Professional athletes are known for their egos and hearing that the McGwire’s of the world used this perceived pressure to “save” the game to justify PED use is just another example of how some professional athlestes have lost touch with reality.
    Matt C is right to talk about AAA players who never got a chance, but in the process he should be careful not to discourage one of the few ex-MLB players who makes sense when he writes about baseball – thanks Mr Glanville.

  24. MarkF - Jan 25, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    It is almost as if people are suggesting that MLB players felt pressure to “repay” fans over the ill-feelings created by the 1994/95 strike. Those players who took on this challenge decided that using PEDs would be worth the risk to their collective consciences and while this is difficult to stomach, it does not come as a surprise to me. Professional athletes are known for their egos and hearing that the McGwire’s of the world used this perceived pressure to “save” the game to justify PED use is just another example of how some professional athlestes have lost touch with reality.
    Matt C is right to talk about AAA players who never got a chance, but in the process he should be careful not to discourage one of the few ex-MLB players who makes sense when he writes about baseball – thanks Mr Glanville.

  25. Thomas Magnum - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    I agree with Al B – it’s time we all move on. MLB knew full well guys were juiced and turned a blind eye, silently invoking “the best interests of the game” clause. The sport had to address the fallout from the strike, build fan interest in the four expansion cities, and grab marketshare from the NFL and Michael Jordan’s NBA reign. Ballplayers the size of linebackers hitting 450 foot homers brought sensationalism to the sport.
    It’s time we all move on from the Steroid/Morality soapbox. If we had the chance at a $50,000,000 contract, we’d have done the same thing. Instead, we buy lottery tickets. Ballplayers are kinesthetic geniuses, not experts in communication or logic-based thinking (except for Doug Glanville). These guys played a sport that has no bearing on our life or bank account. Time to move on.

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