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The dump-McGwire campaign intensifies

Jan 26, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

McGwire crying.jpgYesterday Ken Rosenthal gave Mark McGwire an ultimatum: repent or resign.  I had missed the fact that, earlier in the day, Peter Gammons had thrown a log on that same fire, calling McGwire a “distraction,” questioning whether his presence on the Cardinals is sustainable and, as a grand finale, saying “McGwire, La Russa, Mozeliak, DeWitt and Selig had better sit down and
think it through, because less than two weeks into the return of Big
Mac, this has all the feel of Tom Eagleton.”

For you kids who don’t remember the 1972 Presidential campaign, Tom Eagleton was a U.S. Senator from Missouri who was picked to be Democratic nominee George McGovern’s running mate.  He was forced off the ticket, however, when it was revealed that he had been hospitalized for serious mental health difficulties, had suffered from manic depression and suicidal tendencies and had been prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.

McGwire = Eagleton?  Really Peter?  A hitting coach who took some PEDs a few years ago inspires a comparison to a man with potentially debilitating mental health problems being a heartbeat away from the presidency?  Sure, why not.  But unlike Rosenthal, I’m willing to give Gammons a greater benefit of the doubt on this sort of thing because his commentary tends not to skew hysterical. To that end I’m assuming that Gammons is referring to the media circus that is developing around McGwire and isn’t making some sort of moral or psychological equivalence.

But of course there will be a media circus when spring training starts. Of course McGwire will be a “distraction,” to use Gammons’ term. But it’s not because there’s anything relevant left to report about Mark McGwire’s steroid use or anything else he should be obligated to add. It’s because everywhere McGwire goes, people like Rosenthal and Gammons will fulfill their own prophesies, jumping up and down, madly pointing and shouting “Look! A distraction!”

  1. Paul Davis - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    It’s amazing to me that the national media cannot leave this guy alone. Did he take steroids? Yes…he admitted that. Is he still taking them? No! I’m sure he’d be happy to undergo testing. By definition that is REPENTING.
    The national media cried out “ADMIT YOU TOOK THEM!” and he did. But now that isn’t good enough. “ADMIT THEY HELPED YOU!” is your cry now. Unless Mr. McGwire is a medical doctor he is not qualified to say definitively that they did help him. Do I think they did? Yes. But he’s done enough for me to let him have his life. I would ask that you, the national media, show a little integrity and leave the man alone now!

  2. Post Modern - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    The difficulty I’m having in accepting McGwire’s admission is his insistence that steroids -didn’t- help him hit home runs. It’s not that I expected him to explicitly state that steroids helped him hit home runs (it was an underlying assumption for most of us anyway), but I expected better of him than to adamantly insist that steroids -didn’t- help him hit home runs.
    You assert (correctly) that McGwire isn’t a doctor. Given the truth of that statement, McGwire is in no better position to say that steroids -didn’t- help than he is to say that they did. But that’s what he’s saying: he’s saying that steroids didn’t help him hit home runs.
    His statement effectively amounts to denial, and I expected better than denial from this. On a final note, if steroids didn’t help McGwire hit home runs, then why did he feel compelled to apologize to the family of Roger Maris in advance of his press conference?

  3. YankeesfanLen - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    Even Gammons is getting too cute by half, especially through the Eagleton remark. As you point out, it’s apples and oranges to an nth degree. Let’s equate a politician with real, treated mental issues with a ballplayer who does something along the lines of ODing on the best Ben-Gay of it’s time. Plus, McGovern-Eagleton were publicly running against an untreated phychotic themselves (who happened to advance foreign policy more than any other President of the 20th century). McGwire’s “treatment” just happened to be effective and only in retrospect wrong.
    Leave McGwire alone! (this worked with ARod last year)
    How many days to pitchers and catchers report?

  4. Willie Mays Hayes - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    Looks like Gammons is writing above your heads. Of course he was referring to the media attention. And it is deserved, after lawyerly responses before Congress, and a half-admission to Costas. Did they really think that was going to be enough to get a pass out onto the big stage? How about a full blown admission, to everything, then a couple of years being the hitting coach for the Enid Swamprats, to serve as a cautionary tale to the youngsters.

  5. Jonny5 - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    Ho Hum…

  6. Jim Casey - Jan 26, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    My feeling is LaRussa brought McGwire back to try to rehabilitate him in the eyes of the writers, so he would have a better shot at the Hall. What I wonder is when steroids really came into baseball. I have no evidence for this other than the player’s numbers and behavior, but I think Dave Kingman is someone to look at as a possible steroid user. He had the numbers and the personality for it, and, interestingly, ended his career in Oakland and was there when Canseco and McGwire arrived. Probably just a coincidence, but maybe not. What I would also like to know is how involved was LaRussa in all of this? No manager is more arrogant, and no manager likes to think he is a step or two ahead of his competitors more than LaRussa. Did he just look the other way, or was he a facilitator in some way? I’d love to know.

  7. I am Providence - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    His steroid use wasn’t just wrong in retrospect, it was wrong back then, too. Taking steroids for unapproved uses is a crime, and it was a crime back then, too. I personally don’t care whether he coaches or not. That said, when you decide to confess, then you should really confess and tell the truth. Instead, he obfuscated, saying he didn’t even know what drugs he took. He’s also lying or in denial when he says that he didn’t take the drugs to improve performance. If you can’t even tell the truth in your own confession, then you should just keep your mouth shut.

  8. Levi Stahl - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    I’m surprised that people like Rosenthal and Gammons think that their opinions might make a difference in this case. I could always be wrong, but really, can you think of anyone less likely to bow to the wishes of the media than LaRussa? He managed the hard part, convincing the owners that this was a good idea and that they could weather the storm, and I don’t see him backing down now.
    Besides, I really do think that once the season starts–once there’s baseball to write about–it won’t be a big deal at all. And I expect McGwire to be a really good coach: the Cardinals haven’t had a consistent approach at the plate in a couple of years, and if there’s one thing McGwire had, it was a definite plan every time he got in the box.

  9. JudyJ - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    As stated by Bryant Gumbel on his sports show on HBO this week – let’s give the steroid conversation a real, true rest. We get it and now, we are tired of hearing about it and bored with the entire conversation. Let’s move on – everyone has learned from the problem and more than most have participated in the problem. The real problem is we “think” we know the users – and are punishing them to the max. What about those who used and aren’t called out? What about those who didn’t use. There is no pure solution to this problem. Let it be – because nothing is going to change it. Give everyone a pass on this one – owners are just as responsible as everyone who used. And we are just as responsible because we enjoyed the ride of the supermen who provided us with the thrills. No one cares anymore.

  10. Mark - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Why should any baseball fan give any of these liars a break. Give us back the money we spent on your jersies and trips to the ball park. Why did ticket sells go up because we had to offer more money to see the freaks play! If the cheaters get to go into the hall then we all know the greatest hitter of all time should be there and while were at it lets give the Black Soxs there due.
    We can all see why Footbal has taken over as the number one sport. You saw roids back in the 70s since then how many players have seen a whole year of playing time while on the stuff?

  11. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    “Did he take steroids? Yes…he admitted that. Is he still taking them? No! I’m sure he’d be happy to undergo testing. By definition that is REPENTING.”
    This is absolutely the lamest excuse yet. I cheated on a test in the 7th grade. I don’t cheat on 7th grade tests anymore. By definition that is REPENTING. Or, just maybe, I don’t cheat on 7th grade tests because I’m not in school anymore. I understand that Bernie Madoff doesn’t run pyramid schemes anymore. By definition that is REPENTING.

  12. Grant - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Eh, Gammons has been just another hack for years anyway.

  13. markfd - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Why don’t these writers grow up, their heroes were taking greenies and all sorts of other pills to get through a season!!! McGwire is not trying to play (despite LaRussa’s claims of pinch-hitting him), he did not bet on baseball like Pete Rose. IF the current policy had been in place when Big Mac did play he would have been suspended, not banned from the sport forever. These holier than thou people like Gammons give baseball a bad name, he should not be in the Hall of Fame, all he is a homer with a national audience.

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    1. Why does McGwire, who had been asked for years to simply admit what he did, now have to “repent”?
    2. Even if he does have to repent, why does he have to repent to the media? Why is it their dissatisfaction, as opposed to that of, say, Cardinals’ fans or the team or Major League Baseball, that has to be addressed?

  15. Charles Gates - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Because the media represents the best interests of our children, obviously.

  16. Jonny5 - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Well it’s obviously due to the nut nuzzling they gave the man before the steroid scandal broke. They still taste it. At least they knew when to stop nuzzling mark’s atrophied boys huh?
    Seriously though, I think what we see from reporters is as simple as this. It’s off season folks, there isn’t a whole lot to report on sooo…. this is what we get. We had to look at schillings Joker like smile on the front page of MSN’s baseball page because some dumb reporter construed his words in a way that he could have meant he wanted to come back to the mound…. That is the worst breaking news story EVER!!!

  17. shelbydawkins - Jan 26, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    I really wish he would just go back into exile and stay out of baseball. He tore a bandage off a sore that was beginning to heal.
    I just don’t think he would be good for baseball if he returns.

  18. david nystuen - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    McGwire is a disgrace to baseball. He could have come clean years ago and didn’t. He does not belong in active basball. What an image for young players, do what ever, then confess and continue as if nothing had happened.

  19. smsetnor - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    I expect that Gammons whould be calling for David Ortiz to hang em up now, correct?

  20. pedman - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    By definition that is REPENTING. are you an idiot! Repenting is be honest about what happened, he closed nothing. he admitted taking them, but then had to BS America once again with his BS reasons,I was hurt bla bla bla, Dude you were hitting Home runs on a record pace! dumb ass, do think that might have been the reason you did it? the Fame? the Pressure to continue? maybe thats what you should have said, I took them becuase i was under alot of pressure to PERFORM duh.. Perfomance Enhancement Drugs, and you have these morons…. Leave the man alone, he admitted it.. he made it worst! its like the dumb ass husband / wife who gets caught cheating, Honey i did it because i was lonely… BS you did it because you have the DNA of a scum bag.. just admit it she was hot and you wanted some, “Tiger?” So fk this ass hole and the biggest crime is all those little boys and girls cheering him on admiring him, all the while it was a lie… nuff said!

  21. Greg - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Peter Gammons is a fraud. His beloved Red Sox have been caught cheating & not one bad word came out of his mouth about those guys. Who cares what a bunch of band wagon jumping reporters have to say. Who do these guys think they are anyway telling other men what they have to do. Go awya you little blowhards, Gammons has been a one sided reporter his whole career. Seem to remember him being one of the biggest supporters during the home run chases. Both of these reporters are full of it.

  22. Charles Gates - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    This coming from pedman? Oh, I love the smell of irony in the morning.

  23. pedman - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    There is no shot at the HALL, NONE, even full confession, full reason why he took them, nothing he could possibly say would budge the votes, They already asked the writers 6 months ago if that would happen would that change there vote, he only picked up 2 more votes. so put that discussion to bed, there is no way LaRussa can help this situation.

  24. DStock - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Personnally I dont know what the big deal is…. This is not a McGuire, Sosa, Bonds issue its a issue with Baseball. Did they take roids, sure most of us could tell just by looking at them. Lets face it Baseball was hurting after the strike and the home runs these guys were blasting helped reenergize the fan base and got people back to the park. If your going to blame someone, blame the the comish, owners, coaches and trainers that looked the other way.. Lets put this issue in the past, let them in the HOF and press on.

  25. ecp - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I read Gammons’ article as sympathetic to McGwire, with the warning that Mark has become, and will continue to be, an issue with which the Cardinals will have to deal. And that they need to ponder the ramifications long and hard. Comparing it to Eagleton may be extreme, but it makes the point. The Eagleton affair was a witch hunt by fundamentalist fanatics, plain and simple. So is this.

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