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Rosenthal: McGwire needs to own up or resign

Jan 25, 2010, 4:54 PM EDT

Rosenthal.jpgI’m a huge fan of Ken Rosenthal the reporter. I think he works harder than anyone in the business and, more than anyone, when he passes on a nugget of news, you can bet that it’s going to pan out. Personally speaking, he’s always been gracious with me despite the fact that I’ve been critical of him from time to time. 

That criticism comes when Rosenthal takes off the reporting hat and puts on the commentator hat, where I think he frequently gets things wrong. Things like this:

McGwire, then, faces a choice.  Resign as hitting coach and
return to seclusion before even tinkering with one swing — a copout. Or
hold an actual news conference — his six-minute effort at the
Cardinals’ winter warmup hardly qualified — and concede that, sure,
steroids helped him in some way . . . All anyone wants to hear is Big Mac acknowledge the drugs made a difference in his performance. Any other explanation insults our collective intelligence.

If it’s so damn obvious, why does Rosenthal or anyone else need to hear it?  Does Rosenthal demand that ballplayers who look to the sky after crossing the plate admit that their grandmother’s ghost didn’t really help them hit the homer?  Does he demand that Fernando Valenzuela admit that breathing through his eyelids did not help him win all those games?  Does he demand that Wade Boggs come to grips with the efficacy of eating fried chicken before ballgames?

It’s undeniable that steroids helped Mark McGwire in some capacity. We can’t know how much, of course, but it’s ridiculous to think that they didn’t help at least somewhat. Indeed, Rosenthal himself concedes that he doesn’t need Mark McGwire to tell us that.  Nevertheless, he persists with this “McGwire must say it himself” stuff. Rosenthal even crafts what he feels would be an acceptable confession by McGwire.  It contains nothing new and nothing that doesn’t obviously follow from what McGwire has said and what our own reason can easily supply.  At any rate it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rosenthal doesn’t need any more information than McGwire has already provided in order to assess the situation thoroughly.

But this isn’t about McGwire failing to provide enough information. This is not about coming clean. In demanding that McGwire admit what Rosenthal already knows to be true, this is about penance. Rosenthal demands that McGwire prostrate himself before him and the assembled baseball media and say exactly what they want him to say. If he cannot, he should be cast out of the church of baseball.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the media’s job to provide anyone absolution. If that’s what Rosenthal is interested in doing I suggest he follow Grant Desme’s example and go to seminary school.

  1. Joel - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    I agree. Rosenthal is a fine reporter, but his views on anything other that reporting news trend toward the ridiculous. The incident last year with the “blogger-v-raul ibanez” caused Rosenthal to blow up about bloggers casting accusations from their mother’s basements and such. Clearly he understands how to gather reliable baseball news, but not the new media or cultural landscape. Drives me nuts, and I read less and less of his stuff because of it.

  2. Jonny5 - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    Rosenthal is genius, or has some good insiders, either one… Lets not forget who first said Cliff lee could be traded away by Philly…. Personally I thought he was on the glass pipe and rock since he was so inexpensive…. What’s another year at average starter pay for an ace I said……. Well lookey here now, I was wrong, Rosenthal, not only isn’t on the rock, but he is right on the money with that prediction. Damn!!!
    I assume that Rosenthal meant if Mcguire didn’t own up like a man should, he’ll never live down the lie. I’m pretty sure if the man came clean and admitted he did it to get better, which we all know is the case btw, fans would forgive, and possibly even embrace him as a fellow flawed human. Right now as it stands ,we’re all being lied to, and we’ll never embrace the lie.

  3. Drew - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    Let’s be clear. If McGwire came out and said word-for-word what Rosenthal asked for, he’d say that McGwire was just “telling people what they wanted to hear” and that he didn’t “accept the apology” or something along those lines. If you’ve decided you don’t like Mark McGwire, that’s fine. But I think pretending that he’d completely change his tune towards the man if he came out and said “I think steroids are the only reason I was ever able to hit a baseball” is a farce.
    I guess it’s just hard to do any meaningful reporting when there’s not a lot of baseball to report on.

  4. JBerardi - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    I think what Rosenthal is saying is that we need to toss McGwire into a river. If he doesn’t drown, we’ll know he’s a witch and then we can burn him at the stake. If he does drown, then we’ll know he never was a witch. It’s a great plan, because either way, we’ll end up being certifiably witch-free!

  5. Nick C. - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    I think that much of the vitriol being directed at McGwire is the result of his association with Tony LaRussa.

  6. YANKEES1996 - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    I also like Ken Rosenthal as well, his stories and opinions are worth my time in most cases, not this one however! I do not believe that Ken Rosenthal has a problem with McGwires’ apology but rather he has a problem with McGwires’ ego. The fact that McGwire said he did not believe the steroids helped him to become a better hitter ruffled a lot of feathers. His interview with Bob Costas did seem rather disingenious and came off with quite an edge of ego. However if you think that Mark McGwire is going to accept responsibilty as a whole for what he did or come completely clean about what he did then you are simply fooling yourself and that includes you Mr. Rosenthal. Mark McGwire does not care what the baseball writers think or what the fans think or what anyone else thinks, he did what he had to do to keep his new job and minimize the distraction for the Cardinals at spring training.

  7. Ron - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    He sells advertising. That’s what it’s all about. The truth doesn’t matter, as long as ad copy sells.

  8. Old Gator - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Barf! Yet another sanctimonious blowhard in the guise of the Fourth Estate as the conscience of civilization. Journalists, aside from suffering from an exaggerated sense of entitlement, also suffer from a bloated sense of self-importance that they transform into a parody of seerage. Now this might have been true, say, in the halcyon days of Watergate or the muckrakers, when indomitable investigative reporters were abroad in the land, “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” putting the elites on notice that their crimes and peccadilloes would not slip by under the watchful radar of the press.
    .
    Well, thirty years down the line, after their publications have lost their independence, gobbled up by the national and transnational corporate interests it had once been their joy to harass. They themselves have become ineffectual monitors of high crimes both political and corporate, so here we are: Ken Rosenthal with his implied staff and miter pronouncing with undilute puffery upon the moral imperatives governing the life of one Mark McGwire. That’s about all that seems left to the press, isn’t it – kicking a corpse until it spills its maggots.
    .
    Ken, why don’t you and all of your blowhard brethren go out and do some important work – like, get the goods on the backroom deals that subverted democracy in Miami and Milwaukee in order to build playpens for billionaires. Find out how Dick Cheney arranged to “out” a U.S. intelligence agent and how his treason was covered up while you guys sat around with your thumbs up your asses or bleated like sheep at the trough in the White House press room. You know, significant stuff.
    .
    Or just go fuck yourselves.

  9. 2cents - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Here’s my $.02 worth. Steroids build bluk. Does it build talant? I ain’t placing a defence here. Lot’s of guy’s were juicing and didn’t hit all the homers. Hand eye has a stake here. SS and MG…bulk…but there had to be something there to say pull the trigger now and do it. Too bad some guy’s talent got overshadowed by some bad choices. Rosenthal is ok I guess but the role he’s assumed on this is not reporting. Oh…I forgot…he can editorialize when he wants to.
    Only catfish bite in muddy water…

  10. gumbercules - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Craig: I feel the exact same way about Olney. Reporter – A+, Opiner (if that is a word) – F. Can the sanctimony, fellas. I don’t want you to get hurt falling off your high horses.

  11. alterity - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    this is why we need to stop talking about steroids: people don’t seem to know anything about them. they don’t build bulk: they help you recover–from injuries or *workouts*. because you recover faster, you can exercise more. if you take steroids and sit around, you know what happens? nothing, at least with regard to getting stronger.

  12. stroboy51 - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Bingo!

  13. 2cents - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    alterity…I will stand corrected I guess. “if you take steroids and sit around, you know what happens? nothing, at least with regard to getting stronger.” But if you don’t just sit around…Lou Ferrigno and Schwartzenwhater come to mind. So if you take stertoids and work out what happens? Still nothing? Just wondering? Where’s all the bulk suddenly come from? Help me. I want to learn.

  14. Greg - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    Like these clown reporters will ever own to there own guilt in this. Who do these dorks think they are giving ultimatiums to people. Maybe Mcguire should put you in a headlock & squeeZe the idiot out of you for telling another man what to do.

  15. stargatebabe - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    +1
    The media needs to drop this and move on. They are all pouting cuz they didn’t get what they wanted.
    Hey, Media! WELCOME TO REAL LIFE!

  16. stargatebabe - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    PLUS…the media was eating this crap up in 1998 and NOW they’re bitching about it??????????????????? They had no clue that steroids were involved???? *snort*

  17. hey frankie - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    no phan of rosenthal– his recent appearances on the mlb tv network
    have left me somewhat less than thrilled. i had hoped by now he would have gotten down from his high horse and found someone else to kick around
    obviously a very religious person – he should as the good book suggests go forth and multiply – or in the words must of us understand
    GO GET PHUCKED

  18. Glen F - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Mac did apologize. He said they made him stay on the field longer. Without that he would not have hit HRS. I think both Mr. Calcaterra and Mr. Rosenthal should make it more clear what he is to apologize for: quantity of the shots (the records he had contributed without the power he claims the steroids didn’t have, but by staying on the field longer; also, he apologized for that already), or for the ability to have more HRS in a season due to the added power of the steroids (which we have not proven yet, and may never prove the exact amount of power they’ve provided).

  19. scatterbrian - Jan 25, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    Somewhere, Andy Pettitte just shrugged.

  20. scatterbrian - Jan 25, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    I’m still trying to figure out what good this would do. If the goal is truly to rid the game of PEDs, wouldn’t it be detrimental if McGwire said they did help him? What is the deterrent, aside from not being a Hall of Famer, which is limited to a select few anyway?
    As long as the media wants to write about the perceived “positive” aspects of using PEDs (bigger, faster, stronger, richer) the negative aspects (health risks, embarrassment, no HoF enshrinement) will fade into the distance.

  21. Tony A - Jan 25, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    A-fucking-men, Gator!

  22. Alan - Jan 25, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    McGwire did not come clean. He stated that he used steroids to help him heal. He stated that steroids did not help him hit, that it was a god given gift that he received. I agree with Rosenthal completely. McGwire apologized to the fans, the Maris family, and to his family but he came up short by claiming that it was only to keep him on the field not to make him stronger and bigger and a better hitter.
    I could care less about Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds, these guys cheated their way into the record books for many years.

  23. quintjs - Jan 25, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    It ends up and this. Not 1 currently player who used steriods has been completely honest about it. Not one.
    I support Rosenthal or any other reporting going after anyone until they do.
    No one has come out and said “I used steriods to improve my performance and they worked”

  24. Michael - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Thing is, Rosenthal CAN’T prove that steroids actually affected performance.
    And since even a reporter with the (supposed) motivation to find such proof can’t prove it, why would you possibly expect McGwire to “admit” it?
    It’s idiotic grandstanding by Rosenthal.

  25. Edward Santomauro - Jan 26, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

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