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If you think baseball writers are PED scolds, get a load of this track and field writer

May 29, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT


The U.S. Track and Field team hired a former PED user as a coach. His name is Dennis Mitchell and he was part of the BALCO scandal. He was banned, reinstated and now he’s back.

New York Times columnist Juliet Macur is NOT happy about this. And I mean seriously not happy. Her unhappiness is cast in the sort of pearl-clutching, fainting couch moralizing and scandalizing that even the most anti-PED baseball writers have more or less given up because they realized it was basically self-parody. And while her story is about track and field, her unhappiness with this extends to baseball too:

Other sports also have some explaining to do, too, especially after assuming the public has forgotten — or simply doesn’t care — about the drug use that has wrecked the purity of their games.

Look in the dugout at Los Angeles Dodgers games, and you might see the hitting coach Mark McGwire, a slugger who once used steroids to perform his great feats. Stop by the San Francisco Giants’ spring training camp for a glimpse of Barry Bonds, the player convicted of obstructing a grand jury in a case centered on doping, who still will not admit that he doped to succeed. Or take a visit to the Chicago Cubs’ Class AAA Iowa affiliate, where Manny Ramirez, twice suspended for drug use, has just been hired as a player/coach.

I know some New York Times people read HardballTalk occasionally. If any of them could slip by Ms. Macur’s desk and explain that baseball’s purity was gone a long, long time before Mark McGwire got hired to be a hitting coach, I’d appreciate it.

Oh, and slip her the All-Star voting results too — the ones which currently have Ryan Braun starting in the outfield — to show her that to the extent baseball assumes fans don’t care, well, they’re absolutely right.

  1. DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I just wish some baseball PED user could be as entertaining as Mitchell

    “defended himself by saying that failed doping test was a result of too much beer and too much sex with his fiancée.”

    Come on – even the harshest critics of PED’s in baseball would have to give a high five to any doper using that excuse

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      The Green Machine was awesome, and was the start of my ‘Bob Costas is a giant a$$hole’ position b/c of the ’96 Olympics. Here’s a hint Bob, sprinters are ego-maniacs, they have to be when hundreds of a second matter. So they use whatever motivation they can to run faster. Asking a sprinter about another person’s time is a big no-no.

  2. lukedunphysscienceproject - May 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Purity in sports.

    Good lord, who are these people?

    • 18thstreet - May 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      The important thing about Golden Ages: they are always in the past.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 29, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        And are subject to people’s memories which conveniently forget the ugly truths.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Yes….I am sure in the 1920’s, you still had some old crank talking about the 1880’s

        “What’s with these 3 man rotations? We had fellas that pitched every day!!”

      • 18thstreet - May 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        You had people like Ty Cobb (well, no one was *like* Ty Cobb) saying that Babe Ruth and his homeruns were ruining baseball.

      • Liam - May 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Yeah, well, that’s the thing about the old days. They the old days.

    • SocraticGadfly - May 29, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Good thing Big Mac’s not teaching how to do a bat flip. #NotDisrespecting

  3. sdelmonte - May 29, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    “Scold” is the right word. I cannot stand her columns. She is a moralist of the worst stripe, and probably is trying out for one of those op-ed columns I ignore. While I came down strongly on the side of Krugman in the Great Krugman-Silver Squabble, I can see why Silver said what he did about op-ed writers when people like Macur are around.

  4. Michael - May 29, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    The Times’ hiring standards appear to have dropped, to the point where they’ve apparently hired someone off the street with no real grasp of the actual way sports are played…to write about sports.

    “a slugger who once used steroids to perform his great feats” – is that even proper writing?

    Seriously, this is horrible journalism in more ways than one.

  5. ramrene - May 29, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Seriously Craig,

    You couldn’t Google Images a picture of McGwire in a Dodgers Uniform? There’s several there with him behind the hitting cage.

    Here’s the link you lazy b@st#rd:….0…1ac.1.45.img..4.11.2145.uyT-m_3aN24

    • uwsptke - May 29, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      I could be wrong, but I think Craig and the other NBC bloggers are limited to a specific library of images (which is why you often see the same ones recycled). It’s not as easy as doing a Google image search.

    • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      You have to have rights to use the images.

  6. jimmyt - May 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM

  7. RickyB - May 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    When a writer laments the passing of the purity and innocence of a sport, what they are actually lamenting is the passing of their own purity and innocence. When they realize the world is not all roses and hugs and kisses as they thought while growing up.

    • clemente2 - May 29, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Good insight—applies to alot of things you see happen.

  8. raysfan1 - May 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    She also missed mentioning the manager of the Nationals. Mercy. *fans self while feeling faint*

  9. paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Here is the thing. Current evidence suggests that roughly 1/2 of all baseball players were using PEDs for about a decade (roughly 95-2004), with use being common but not as rampant (in terms of intensity and number of individuals) for about 30 years before that. While I do have problems with accusations that a specific player used PEDs during the height of the steroid era, it is also statistically likely that at some point during that time, any given player DID you PEDs…and the odds are nearly 100% that he used amphetamines on multiple occasions before they were banned.

    The biggest problem with attempts to whitewash PED use in any sport is the focus on stars as if they were the only ones doing it when a large proportion of participants were using similar things, they just weren’t as good. Thousands of baseball players used steroids and many more thousands used amphetamines, singling any individual out because he was the one who got caught and then acting like he (or she) should be a pariah is disingenuous because they weren’t doing anything different than most of their colleagues.

  10. 461deep - May 29, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Ty Cobb was a mean guy but did not cheat. There has never been purity on Earth let alone MLB. PED’s however, damaged the game by their sheer effective results. Mark McGwire, Bonds, Sosa were all pretty good players but PED’s elevated them to hulks. Yeah greenies pep you up but you don’t grow 50 pounds heavier from them. Records are meant to be broken but 73 home runs a year will be hard as no slugger can get that big on PED’s now with testing. Alternately, 60-61 were within reach since a good number hit into the 50-58 range. I’m not a PED user hater but just recognize the effects of PED’s just like pills work to keep BP down and penicillin gave us the largest life span spike in history. I enjoyed seeing all those homers and hope the hate of the users ends and with time some are found worthy of the HOF as well as Shoeless Joe and Rose. Do not believe anyone banned today did so terrible a misdeed to be forever barred from the Hall.

  11. mvandermast - May 30, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    >Oh, and slip her the All-Star voting results too — the ones which currently have Ryan Braun starting in the outfield — to show her that to the extent baseball assumes fans don’t care, well, they’re absolutely right.

    It’s not that simple. I care about PED use, but I also want the NL to win the All-Star Game. So I would have no problem voting for Braun as an All-Star if I thought he could help that cause, especially since he’s currently clean as far as I know.

  12. alphonzolester - May 31, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Hey, it’ s okay. Coach did it. 135 homers in two years.

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