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Mark McGwire’s advice to young players about PEDs: “Yeah, don’t do it”

Nov 8, 2012, 3:34 PM EDT

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New Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire gave an interview to Fox Sports Radio on the art of hitting, his new gig with the Dodgers and, or course, his history with PEDs.

McGwire was asked about what he would tell today’s players who ask him about PEDs:

“Yeah, don’t do it. Use your head. It’s a mistake that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to deal with never, ever getting into the Hall-of-Fame. I totally understand and totally respect their opinion and I will never, ever push it. That is the way it’s going to be and I can live with that. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was sit down with my nine and ten year old boys and tell them what dad did. That was a really hard thing to do but I did it. They understood as much as a nine or ten year old could. It’s just something, if any ball player ever came up to me, run away from it. It’s not good. Run away from it.”

That’s the no-brainer advice now that there is a testing and penalty program in place that — if you believe the groundswell about the penalties not being big enough — will only get tougher and could drum you right out of the game quickly.

I’d be curious, however, as his boys get older, if McGwire will explain the cost-benefit analysis that existed pre-2004. When there was no testing and, if anything, defacto encouragement from fans, the league, the advertisers and even the media for players to juice up.

Because say what you want about the ethics of what McGwire did, and say what you want about how they have ruined his legacy as a baseball player, but the fact remains that McGwire sat down in a much larger, more expensive house to tell his boys about what he did than he would have been able to if he had been forced out of the game due to injury and ineffectiveness in the early-to-mid 90s, as it appeared he might have been had he not suddenly become a much stronger, healthier and bigger player after that.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of PED use. It’s just a statement of fact based on the incentive structure in place prior to 2004. And its an incentive structure that can’t be ignored when we cast judgment on those players who used PEDs in that time frame.

  1. shynessismyelguapo - Nov 8, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    This provides a wonderful excuse to post this:

    Mark McGwire Admits It Was Really Fucking Fun Hitting Baseballs So Far

    NEW YORK—Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger, onetime single-season home run record holder, and admitted steroid abuser Mark McGwire came clean Monday, confessing that it was really fucking fun being able to hit baseballs so hard and far.

    “I can’t remember having a better time in all of my life,” McGwire said during an hour-long interview with the MLB Network’s Bob Costas. “Do you have any idea what it’s like knowing instantly that a ball you hit is going to fly—no, soar—over a fence in a major-league stadium? Well, I do. And it’s fucking fantastic.”

    “I’m sorry everyone had a problem with it,” McGwire added. “But I was having a blast.”

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/mark-mcgwire-admits-it-was-really-fucking-fun-hitt,2890/

    • dirtfrompeedysuniform - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Lots and lots of people say things they regret and wish they could take back. Did you have that article ready to go as soon as you found out he was contrite and finally realized what he did was wrong? What a dick.

      • dondada10 - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        Dude, it’s The Onion. It’s a satirical news publication. Dick.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 8, 2012 at 6:07 PM

        Haha just pulled a Stephen A.

  2. dodger88 - Nov 8, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    I suspect as time goes on that we will have to take a more nuanced look at PEDs in that I think there is a difference between using something to simply get bigger and stronger versus modern medicine allowing people (including non-atheletes) to heal from injuries that in the past may been a more arduous or even impossible task. This is not a defense of those who have used PEDs as I can’t possibly know an individual’s motivation for using them.

    As wrong as someone like Lance Armstrong may have been in using PEDs I must admit that it is rather amazing what he could accomplish considering he had to overcome the effects of cancer. Modern medicine is allowing plasma injections so that Chad Billingsley may be able to avoid surgery, which I think is good. If it is for healing purposes, wouldn’t some PEDs make sense? Is the game not better if we can keep players healthy and on the field, especially if the playing field can be kept level and fair?

    The problem would be in drawing the line and I have no clue where that line should be drawn. I just think at some point we need to move away from a black and white debate and try to figure out the gray. The sport would be better for it.

    • vansloot - Nov 8, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Won’t happen. The people that would have to play a role in moving the debate away from a black and white discussion are sportscasters, and they don’t understand nuance.

      • shoeflypie - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:10 AM

        I agree with you totally. Most sports broadcasters wouldn’t recognize nuance if it hit them in the face. The inability of most broadcasters to speak properly is astounding. Some years back, I heard one indicate that an outfielder was able to catch a particular fly ball because “he outquickened the ball.”

        Furthermore, many sports broadcasters and most players, coaches and managers are at a loss when it comes to using verb tenses correctly. “If he hits/catches/throws it, we would have won the game.” How illogical. Do they really understand that they are saying that something done in the present can affect something that happened in the past? We’ve got a whole generation that is losing the ability to express themselves correctly (Yes, I do teach English, and have been for many years).

        Analysts who can’t speak proper English frequently are unable to get their thoughts across clearly.

    • indaburg - Nov 8, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      I agree with you, dodger. It’s not a black and white debate. I also have no idea where to draw the line. It’s easy to say “All PEDs are cheating and anyone who uses them should be banned” but it’s a little more complicated than that. I remember one time Craig wrote a blog post about a medication called Toradol (ketorolac) as a potential PED because some players apparently felt they got a boost from it. It’s an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), a pain reliever in the same class as ibuprofen. At first, I thought it was silly to call it a PED but then afterwords when I thought about it, I wondered where the line is. When does a substance cross from being a performance enabler to a performance enhancer?

      • raysfan1 - Nov 8, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        There is a huge crowd who espouse the “All PEDs are cheating and anyone who uses them should be banned”–unfortunately I’ve yet to run across a single one who is consistent in that view. Amphetamines are PEDs and yet there is no retroactive outrage toward the “greenies” users or gnashing of teeth about a number of them being in the HoF. The reality is that steroids get the most pub, and people actually believe they magically turn average players into superman.

      • stex52 - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:03 AM

        You’re right, Inda, the lines get harder to see as medicine improves. I’m not the first to say this, but how about Tommy John surgery? “Let’s just give him a robot arm and he can pitch forever.” How many pitchers had their careers ended by not having that available? Conversely, what is wrong with a judicious use of steroids or NSAIDs to allow injuries to heal better? Are we really in an age when a man should avoid the best medicine to heal his injuries?

        But at the same time, Melky’s obvious improvement in the last two years troubles me. Part of me hopes that he comes back still hitting next year, so we can say “see, they don’t make that much difference.” But I’m sure it won’t be that easy.

      • indaburg - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        That’s exactly what I was trying to get at, but you said it better.

        I wonder how much is simply the placebo affect at work. I bet I could inject these guys with sterile saline, get them believing it was some sort of legal performance enhancer, and they would produce better. I would love to conduct that study.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Nov 8, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    “Yeah, don’t use PEDs. You may make a ton of money, and get lots and lots of adulation, but after everyone finds out you don’t get to be in the Hall of Fame and…..everyone looks down on you….well, some people defend you using comparative moralism…..but a lot of people look down on you and then when all is said and done all you are left with is the tons of money you made playing a game and a job that still pays you more than 95% of the American public makes. It’s just a bad idea all around. Now….which one of you parked my two hundred thousand dollar car?”

  4. mrwillie - Nov 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Maybe the big house is to make up for the tiny balls.

  5. randygnyc - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Isn’t this the most contrite admission for steroid use in MLB history so far? And he acknowledged he’s not getting into the HOF.

  6. thephilsabide - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    You guys realize that article was from The Onion, right?

  7. thephilsabide - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    And to clarify, I’m referring to the article in the comment section.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 8, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      You know there’s a “reply” button?

  8. BigBeachBall - Nov 8, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    I wonder when the first little leaguer gets busted for peds….2013?

  9. sabatimus - Nov 8, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    He forgot to add “…and don’t get caught.”

  10. emosnar - Nov 8, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    …Oh now you tell me, smh.

  11. Carl Hancock - Nov 8, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Reading Buster Olney’s latest it appears PED use is still very prevalent and the ones that get caught are just unlucky or stupid. They can take testosterone on Sunday before on off day on Monday and pass a drug test by Wednesday.

    • paperlions - Nov 8, 2012 at 7:27 PM

      Taking steroids from time to time won’t result in any measurable benefits. Taking testosterone once/week just won’t do anything for you.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 8, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      Can I make a request to those in the media/blogosphere? If you are going to make a comment regarding the scientific benefits/effects of a substance, you post a link to a peer-reviewed journal/article backing up your statement? Olney offers zero support for any of his comments in his article, hiding behind anonymous quotes from some GM/front office official.

  12. iamjimmyjack - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    Big Mac is a hall of famer. So is Barry Bonds. So is Clemons. Palmeiro. Sosa. They saved baseball for crying out loud. It was a dying sport and they gave it new life. I’m proud to have him on the Dodgers. Welcome to LA

  13. thephilsabide - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    You know that on the iPhone app, there is no reply button, right?

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