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Howard Bryant: Mark McGwire is "too toxic" to return

Jan 27, 2010, 4:25 PM EDT

Howard Bryant.jpgToday’s let’s-run-Mark McGwire-out-of-town-on-a-rail tirade comes courtesy of ESPN’s Howard Bryant, who cites the overwhelming outcry from people “around the game” against Mac’s hiring as hitting coach as a reason for him to be fired or shot or tied backwards on a horse while wearing a mardi gras mask and cast out into the desert or whatever.

For the record, here are the outcriers Bryant cites:

  • Whitey Herzog: A man I love, but a man who hasn’t managed in 20 years and hasn’t had a real job in the game for 14 years;
  • Adolphus Busch IV: A man whose father once owned the Cardinals and who, as far as I can tell, no longer has any connection to baseball, if indeed he ever did;
  • Carlton Fisk, Ferguson Jenkins and Ernie Banks: Three Hall of Famers who, while awesome, are all essentially team ambassadors.
  • Jack Clark and Steve Trachsel: guys who aren’t even notable enough to be genuine team ambassadors.
  • I’ll let Bryant explain the last one: “There is a fourth Hall of Fame player, one who shall remain nameless
    because we spoke in confidence, who told me last week that he planned
    on contacting Selig to tell the commissioner he had made a terrible
    mistake with his enthusiastic endorsement of McGwire’s return to the
    game as the Cardinals hitting coach.”

So there you are. Six retired guys, one random son of privilege and an anonymous Hall of Famer who feels so strongly about McGwire that he won’t even let his name be used.  That’s what Bryant calls a toxic insider “backlash.” That’s what Bryant says justifies people calling for McGwire’s head.

Here’s a nice way to test and see if McGwire’s hiring is as big a mistake as guys like Bryant says it is: ignore it. Say nothing about it and see if, say, Cardinals season ticket sales fall off or if protests form at every stadium to which the team travels or if corporate sponsors flee the team due to McGwire’s presence.  I have this feeling nothing will happen, but if it does, well, at least we have something more than Adolphus Busch IV’s rather irrelevant view of things to work from.

I suppose Bryant may respond that this is a moral issue, not one that can be decided by the whims of public and corporate opinion as I propose. But if that’s the case, then why in the hell does trotting out guys like Busch, Herzog, and Fisk help his case?  If McGwire’s presence on the Cardinals is an abomination, say it, Bryant. Come out and demand that he be fired. Don’t hide behind people who are allegedly “around the game.”

Let’s make it a challenge. Ken Rosenthal. Peter Gammons. Bryant. Anyone else who is inclined to bogusly cite McGwire’s lack of candor, the alleged “distraction” he causes, or the pseudo-backlash:  Quit hiding behind your manifestly artificial controversies and rhetorical constructs and just come out and say you want the Cardinals to fire him because you think he doesn’t deserve the job.  Demand it.  Ask for his head because he doesn’t satisfy you.

If you do, I’ll disagree with your call. But at least I’ll respect it as something honest. Because what we’ve seen from you these past three days has been anything but.

  1. dl3 - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    Love the Mad Max: Thunderdome reference.

  2. Drew - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Andy Pettitte continues his career unmolested. You’d think breaking the coveted “balks that weren’t called balks even though they were really balks” record would have garnered more scrutiny from the media.

  3. JasonC23 - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    I think they’re trying to Barry Bonds him. Remember how every single reporter promised that if anybody signed Bonds, they would start throwing the mother of all hissy fits, basically daring teams to bring the media shame down on them? They’re being slightly less direct about it now, but the message is the same.
    It’s funny–I very much enjoy some reporters, but if every single one of them suddenly disappeared and were never heard from again, somehow I’d still enjoy baseball. I wish they’d remember that when they start getting all sanctimonious.

  4. Richie - Jan 27, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    This surprises me coming from Bryant. His book “Juicing the Game” seemed to take a very sensible approach to the steroids issue.

  5. sjp - Jan 27, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    Wait. Hundreds of players have tested positive for PEDs, and still allowed to work in baseball. Thousands of others took PEDs and still are allowed to work in baseball. But that McGwire guy, he’s toxic. Huh?
    It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much obvious moral hypocrisy…oh, wait, no it hasn’t.

  6. Jeff - Jan 27, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    I love how all these players who kept quiet during Mac’s playing days are now breaking their necks to be heard condemning his admission.

  7. CHRIS - Jan 27, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    i have to laugh at this fellow it seems that we are sending the wrong message again , i in no way endorse peds but lets look at it this way they give them daily in hospitals to help people recover from injuries yet we give baseball players the shaft on them, but its ok if you want to gamble (pete rose) or if you want to get busted with cocaine and crack and beat your wife(daryl strawberry and countless others) thats accepted and you can have a job in baseball we will forgive you for drugs, guns, beating your spouse, and other crimes but you cant take something to make you heal faster hmm seems to me we are a little confused on what message we want to send

  8. Tom - Jan 27, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Remember that it’s in the players best interest to trash McGwire. The more attention focused on McGwire the less that is focused on them.

  9. Stone - Jan 27, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    I would be willing to bet money that McGwire will be applauded in every stadium he visits this year. The baseball fan public is smarter than writers or politicians make them out to be. We realize a lot of players did steroids; I would say most fans are at the point of acceptance. McGuire’s 70 homerun season was nothing short of magical…the race with Sosa was probably the most epic unfolding of events I have ever witnessed in baseball. I don’t think fans will give two craps about McGuire’s steroids use, if anything they will cheer him and approach him for autographs. I know I would. Now if we were talking about Barry Bonds being the hitting coach for the Giants, that would a completely different story. His homerun record breaking season was remarkable but the guy is such a complete douche that he is unlikeable. At the end of the day, as long as you’re not committing mass murders the general public will give a person a pass if they are like-able and remarkable.

  10. PMac - Jan 27, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    So, judging by many of the comments, it’s okay to cheat if you’re white?
    The home run race of 98 was a fraud perpetrated on the American public. Unfortunately many of them are too stupid to realize it.

  11. Skids - Jan 28, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    PMac, what kind of stupid remark is that? And who made Rosenthal or Bryant god? I bet he will be applauded in stadiums. You and your sportswriters get off their self made pedastals. What makes them experts? Themselves.

  12. Mike Dark - Jan 28, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    PMac, can I assume the P stands for Pollyanna?
    Since the hoopla won’t die quietly on its own, McGwire needs to face this head on. He needs to hold the next Q&A session in the Cardinals locker room, and as the reporters are asking their questions, he should casually walk around the club house, putting syringes and big bottles of Androsterone in the lockers of all the players as he’s answering the questions! This moral grandstanding is a huge joke, so treat it like the joke that it is!

  13. Stone - Jan 28, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    You’re an idiot, PMac. I’m not sure where you get the “color” angle from. Not from my comments. I would say there is a large contingent of folks that are upset that Ken Griffey Jr won’t hold the eventual home run record. Why didn’t he do steroids? I would have much preferred Griffey to hold the all-time record. There is nothing race-related when comparing McGwire and Bonds. There is a likability factor involved, and if you want to deny that then I would ask you to look int he mirror for the racist.
    I think a lot of fans are also savvy to the fact that the MLB was helping players along that year. I don’t doubt for a minute that the balls were juiced, McGwire and Sosa were juiced, stadiums were trending smaller, there was a diluted pitching talent pool due to expansion, etc, etc, etc. Who cares at the end of the day? Baseball is entertainment; were we not entertained??

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