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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. Skids - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Who cares what Rosenthal thinks? Who made him God? Maybe he needs to do his job, which is report, instead of telling people what to do. I know that seems to be hard for reporters these days, but originnally that’s what they were paid to do.

  2. Paul in KY - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    The whole thing about Sen. Eagleton was that he hadn’t told anybody about this when they were initially vetting him. Showed serious lack of judgement. Same lack of judgement for Sen. McGovern in not knowing about this before selecting him.
    Old news that. Mr. McGwire is a steroid cheat, who never would have hit as well as he did (turn all those homers into long outs) if not for the steroids & it is pathetic (IMO) that he’s going to be a ‘hitting coach’.
    I feel bad for the good St. Louis fans.

  3. Charles Gates - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    You admit that the names, legally, shouldn’t be released (in your words: punished for the invasion of privacy) yet, then turn around and say release them anyway.

    You still fail to repond to my original point: Please explain how and why shredding the Constitution will make us, and baseball, better off.

  4. Omega in Colorado - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    As far as I am concerned Big Mac owes me nothing. I am just as guilty as he is for the PEDs thing. Along with the trainers, managers, GMs, the Commish and the WRITERS.
    We screamed ourselves hoarse in ’98 cheering for Mac and Sammy, all of us, even as unspoken suspicions arose and HR totals skyrocketed along with ticket sales and TV revenue and endless praise from the writers. I am sure Gammons and Rosenthal tinkled on themselves more than once gushing about Mac in ’98.
    So, does his apology and explination sit right with me? You bet your sweet bippy it does, coz the man owes me nothing.
    I wish him and the Cardianals all the best this coming season. I hope I get a chance to head out to Coors Field when they visit so I can give him a standing ovation during introductions to say thanks for the memories Big Mac.

  5. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    It will be distraction because he is a McLiar………..
    Tell the damn truth already if you want the distraction to STOP!!
    This man has no shame.

  6. YX - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Peter is right on that McGwire has been a distraction. It is not (all) his own fault, but the pile has to stop one way or another in order to play some ball. McGwire resign is one (though probably not right) way.

  7. MMD - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Some of you are “tired of this?” You want to “move on?!”
    Baseball’s “integrity” is shattered in a million pieces on the floor and it still has the worst commissioner in all of pro sports running it.
    Until MLB deals with this cheating issue once and for all it won’t go away. Why won’t you deny-ers get that?!

  8. spants - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    I think the media is getting off on twisting McGwire’s arm. It’s crazy that people want McGwire to insist that steroids influenced his power production. Did Manny have to make that statement? Did A-Rod? These guys are still playing, and A-Rod has a chance at beating the career HR record. Is that when all the crazies will come out of the woodwork? Or does A-Rod get a pass because he’s a Yankee?
    I posed these questions to Ken Rosenthal via Twitter, but I’m sure I’ll never get answers from him.
    What people need to accept is that no records are “clean” or “pure.” None of them. There have always been players who have gained an edge, either through segregation, drugs, equipment, medical technology, etc.

  9. Phil - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Omega, you don’t belong here. You’re far too reasonable. Careful or the villagers will confiscate your pitchfork and torch. 😉

  10. Iowa - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Omega seems to be on the right track. I do not condone what McGwire did nor do I think he’s come clean by any stretch.
    But, if any of you can look in the mirror and state, without hesitation, that you would not have done the same thing given the circumstances then you are a better man/woman than 99.9% on this planet.
    I see this as a short term situation anyway. Should the Cards struggle at the plate he’ll be gone.

  11. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    “When evaluating HR rates, you might want to look into changes made to MLB ball composition starting in mid-1993, the changes had huge effects….indeed, much larger effects than steroids did, unless everyone started using the same day in 1993.
    FWIW, McGwire did admit that steroids helped him hit more HR because he didn’t think he’d be on the field as much without them, what he said was they didn’t help him hit the ball farther. He’s probably wrong, but that doesn’t make him a liar.”
    1-The changes in the HR rates had everything to do with PEDs and little to do with ball composition. I looked at an AL 10-year run, divided into pre-cheating and post-cheating, with 90-94 and 95-99 being the years. Between 90-95 the HR rate increased modestly, from .023 to .027. ‘Mysteriously’, the HR rate jumped to .035, a 26% jump. Yet oddly enough, the overall AL average jumped only 7 points, a 2.6% jump. If you exclude all the extra HRs, the AL average actually stayed exactly the same. If you’re saying the ball was juiced, then wouldn’t you expect the average to increase as well?
    2-IRT to trying to correlate McGwires increase with the league increase, you’d again fall short. Comparing 95-99 with 90-95, McGwire’s HR rate increased by 72%. The overall AL rate increased by only 26%, and even the 26% increase is probably only due to the other cheaters.
    3-McGwire played until he was 37. If you applied his HR rate prior to cheating to the amount of HRs he after he started cheating, he’d wind up with 440 HRs. He wants the writers to vote him into the HOF even though he was no more than just a minor star prior to cheating.

  12. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 26, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    McLiar sits there trying to convince people it
    didn’t help him hit home runs, why do you think
    McLIAR also said he took the PED’S to stay on
    the field, so without the drugs he doesn’t
    even play, he is playing you for a FOOL.
    Those tears, how come his face was dry.
    I have three bridges in New York for sale, call me
    I will give you a good deal on all three.

  13. YANKEES1996 - Jan 26, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    O.k. Charles follow along, this is the last time I’m going to write this. I am NOT commenting on the behaviour of the Federal Agent who seized the list or the case the Government is building or whatever. The list could be returned to MLB, and if MLB really wants to see this issue come to an end then the list should be released to the public, the apology issued and the articles written and the judgement passed and then lets move on.
    I am extremely disappointed that everyone in baseball says that the “Steroid Era” is a black mark on the game but no one including the Commissioner wants to do anything to move the game beyond this. The reporters and lawyers who are leaking the names on the list one or two at a time are just continuing to drag the game through the mud.
    I guess to directly answer your question I will feel bad if the rights of a bunch of liars is trodden on (not) but a full disclosure apology without the lies by everyone involved is what the game needs.

  14. spants - Jan 26, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    I’m not denying that PEDs help athletes play better. I’m saying that McGwire is being held to a different standard than players who have tested positive, are still playing, and will likely be HOFers. Did you even read my comment?

  15. FordPSD60 - Jan 26, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Baseball is at fault just as much as Mark. They knew there was a problem and did nothing. Mark was doing what many others were doing. But yet no ban on the drugs. Mark knows it was a bad decission but it was the norm for many. Mark being a distraction won’t even compare to the distraction that Tiger Woods will be when he returns to golf. So should Tiger Woods be banned from golf?

  16. Nick C - Jan 26, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    McGwire is being held to a different standard for two reasons:
    1) He originally broke the most sacred of baseball records and won’t “admit” that the PED’s helped him do it.
    2) He is associated with Tony LaRussa who is probably the most hated man in baseball (Bud Selig, Scott Boras and Donald Fehr might give him a run for his money).
    I truly believe that Mark thinks the steroids did not help him “hit” more home runs. I think he understands that they helped him get on the field but there is no denying that he had a gift for hitting dingers. Apparently most people would rather he be dishonest and tell them what they want to hear.
    As for Tony, he is a polarizing figure (as you well know). Outside of St. Louis he is simply viewed as an a-hole who is smug and “smarter than everyone else.” The reality is that he probably is smarter than most and there is significant backlash because people are petty and jealous.

  17. spants - Jan 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Well, when/if A-Rod breaks the second most sacred of baseball records, I guess we’ll see if this isn’t just some sort of perverse double standard. My guess is that his record would be seen as legitimate.

  18. Lost Fan - Jan 26, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    How does this work? Pete Rose gets a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on baseball, but he never influenced the outcome of a game. McGwire took P.E. drugs which are designed to improve one’s performance, and as a result influenced the outcome of an untolded number of games and people wonder if he’ll get in the Hall?? What kind of logic is this?? (The answer is if you didn’t know is pro sports are a joke)

  19. Lost Fan - Jan 26, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    How does this work? Pete Rose gets a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on baseball, but he never influenced the outcome of a game. McGwire took P.E. drugs which are designed to improve one’s performance, and as a result influenced the outcome of an untolded number of games and people wonder if he’ll get in the Hall?? What kind of logic is this?? (The answer is if you didn’t know is pro sports are a joke)

  20. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    “Baseball is at fault just as much as Mark. They knew there was a problem and did nothing. Mark was doing what many others were doing.”
    Again, the same excuse as the Wall Street guys. The SEC did nothing while Madoff made billions. A lot of stock brokers trade information, or sell their customers a bill of goods, because everyone is doing it. After a while, no on is really guilty of anything.

  21. Nick C - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    We’ll see when/if that time comes. I too am worried that you might be correct. Also, brace yourself for the next round of hypocrisy when all of the same “journalists” who have excorciated McGwire perform their mental gymnastics to get Clemens and Bonds into the HOF…”They were HOFers before (we suspect) they started using…” or “Manny only failed one drug test and he paid his debt with his 50 game suspension.” or “Arod only used for the 3 years in Texas and his numbers weren’t much different than other seasons.”

  22. Michael - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    The writers are the problem.
    Essentially Rosenthal says “if you don’t give me exactly what I want, then I will make it a public issue.”
    That’s borderline unethical.

  23. The Rabbit - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Hi Len,
    Hope you had a good holiday.
    I’ll get the politics/mental status comments out of the way first.
    Nixon wasn’t psychotic. He was an acute paranoid…and brilliant. If you ever get the chance, see Emile de Antonio’s documentary, Millhouse. (Note: I did meet Nixon a few times: The 1972 Republican National Convention, the Inaugural Ball, and the White House. Really interesting individual.)
    You are absolutely correct regarding some of his foreign policy coups; however, from a historical perspective, it did require a Republican to make those advances. Any Democrat would have been branded at best, weak, or worse, a Commie sympathizer.
    I’m sure some of the younger readers cannot imagine how Eagleton could have possibly been selected as a candidate given the kind of media vitriol that is accepted as reporting today. See: McGwire Just a different time with a different standard. Something actually had to be globally important to justify outrage and excessive attention. I don’t know about you, Len, but I really miss those days.
    BTW, Eagleton was the only candidate (to my knowledge), past or present, that had been adjudged “sane” and had the paperwork to prove it. If I weren’t depressed by some of the events in that era, I’d question my sanity.
    Regarding the drivel coming from Gammons, Rosenthal, et al., Craig is correct: It is a self-fulfilling prophesy. McGwire gets the attention because he broke a “sacred” record. Had he not, he would be virtually ignored in the same manner as the other not-so-great-clearly-didn’t-help alleged PED users.
    Because each era/decade of baseball has been unequal for a myriad of reasons, I consider these kinds of statistics (records) important only if I can remember them well enough to win a game of trivia; otherwise, I place no value on them.
    I am, however, counting the minutes until pitchers and catchers report….and still waiting for the big lottery hit so I can buy a team.

  24. willmose - Jan 26, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    The biggest effect of the HR rate has to due with the humdity of the baseball. The Rockies are the poster child for this. Before MLB added humdity to the baseball HR rates in Denver were off the chart, since MLB added humdity to the baseball HR rates in Denver are below average. So much for the thin air theory. Why were the rates lower in the AL, few clubhouses with A/C to dry out the baseballs than in the NL. It is a simple as that. Since 2006 all MLB has mandated the same humdity in baseballs in every stadium and HR rate has dropped. The Yankees were given a pass last year in their new stadium and the baseball they used were much drier than the rest of MLB. Rosenthal and Gammons of course know this, but don’t make an issue because the Yankees are special.

  25. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    “Why were the rates lower in the AL, few clubhouses with A/C to dry out the baseballs than in the NL. It is a simple as that. Since 2006 all MLB has mandated the same humdity in baseballs in every stadium and HR rate has dropped.”
    I’m not seeing it. The AL HR rate is about the same as in 2004. Again, we’re talking at the margins. The league in general increased by 26% before and after, Mac increased by 72%. I’d be willing to explain away a lot of things, such is the nature of numbers. The league goes up by 26% and he goes up 35%, okay. Or if he had a fluke season, then one year aberrations are not uncommon. But to average 61 HRs per year over 4 years? And then try to say it was only because of his God-given talents? That’s why people are so unwilling to accept his ‘apology’.

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