Talking About the Past
The reviews are in on Mark McGwire’s sudden, one-day confession binge, and it’s mostly not pretty. Here’s a sample:
“Whatever good will McGwire might have garnered by coming clean is now stained by the fact he is still spitting in the Maris family’s face by saying his 70-home run season is legitimate.”Alvin Reed, St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
“(McGwire) was part of a baseball culture gone crazy, as condoned by the commissioner himself, and now he has taken accountability for his personal role in what amounts to a corporate crime.”Dave George, Palm Peach Post.
“I want to challenge him on national TV to a polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a polygraph examination.”Jose Canseco, McGwire’s ex-teammate, responding principally to McGwire’s comments to ESPN that Canseco lied about him.
“This was not a man who was hauled reluctantly into the wicked current of the steroid era. He was in fact the well-documented drum major leading the parade.”Bryan Burwell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Whether he took steroids or not, he did so much for baseball. He almost helped save baseball for a few years there.”Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey.
“Accepting the apology is one thing. Believing McGwire when he says there was no connection between his use of steroids and hitting home runs is another. McGwire apparently is the only person on the planet who believes that.”Rob Rains, St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
“What has emerged in the whole baseball mess is that drug use is widespread and that even the best players are involved and still MLB is whistling past the graveyard.”Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“McGwire doesn't need my forgiveness, or yours. More than anything, he wants to be able to forgive himself. And this was a start.”Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Don’t be tarnishing my only World Series, man.”Dennis Eckersley, teammate of McGwire on the 1989 world champion Oakland A’s.
“No comment.”Sammy Sosa, through a spokesman.
The Buck Doesn't Stop With Bud
Every steroids admission opens up the larger issue of just who is to blame for this whole mess, and McGwire’s confession was no exception. As usual, commissioner Bud Selig took a lot of shots in the public mainstream this past week for looking the other way on McGwire and other steroid users back in the day. It’s very possible that he did. But even then, had he quickly became the anti-steroid zealot and bled the passion to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, he would have run smack into a stubborn brick wall called the Major League Baseball Players Association and its unyielding leaders, Don Fehr and Gene Orza. In the final analysis, it’s union leadership who very well may be the true culprit for this shameful era.
The Lone Public PLea
There’s always a biscuit of sanity that emerges from baseball’s player fraternity when the subject of steroids is stewing, and so we have this from the New York Mets’ David Wright: Move forward on HGH testing of MLB players. “Anything to clean this game up, I’m all for it,” said Wright on WFAN radio a few days after McGwire’s admission.
Going Down With the Sinking Ship
Of all the collateral damage inflicted from McGwire’s confession, the one person who suffered the most had to be his former skipper, Tony LaRussa. Of course, LaRussa did himself no favors by insisting, up to the very last moment, that he never believed McGwire took steroidsalthough he did admit to having some doubts when McGwire clamped up at the 2005 Congressional hearings. Still, people in the know are fully aware that LaRussa likely and highly suspected McGwire but, sticking to the strictest bylaws of baseball’s fraternity code, loyally defended him and ultimately fell on the sword to maintain his honor within. A Hall of Fame voter or two may find LaRussa’s opinions egregious and make him sweat it out a few years before granting him license into Cooperstown, but for the rest of us, we fully understand that LaRussa’s actions come down to nothing more than old school baseball business.
The Congressman Who Knew
One of the politicians lined up to grill the list of past and current major leaguers at the infamous 2005 hearings on steroids in baseball did know about McGwire’s past just shortly before those hearings began. McGwire met with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia) for three hours before his notorious appearance and told Davis that he did take steroidsbut his lawyers advised him against admitting it under oath for fear of Federal prosecution since he was not given immunity. Makes you wonder what Rafael Palmeiro was thinking.
We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Awards
With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s), This Game Great has released its choices for the best, worst and most memorable of the decade that was. Check it out now.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.
Fishing Out the Marlins
It seems as if MLB and the player’s union suddenly realize what we’ve known all along: That Florida owner Jeffrey Loria has unnecessarily been pocketing a lot of money (much of it from revenue sharing) that he otherwise could easily be spending on players. This week the two entities, in a rare moment of agreement among one another, pressed Loria and the Marlins to stop stocking the vault and loosen the wallet. The public request was hardly a sudden epiphany; they were worried that had they raised Cain about this in years pastbefore the Marlins secured their new ballparklocal politicians might have thought twice about giving all that public coinage toward the facility now under construction. So the gripe is now convenient, and the Marlinsthis week, anywayappeared to answer the challenge by granting a rare long-term, big-bucks contract to pitcher Josh Johnson for four years and $39 million.
Aftershock of a Good Kind
A rare bravo to MLB for donating $1 million to Haiti earthquake relief. It’s as much dough as the entire nation of China is offering.
Still Swinging in the Worst Way
Back in 2007, in the midst of a comeback attempt, former major leaguer Jose Offerman went bananas during a minor league game and took a bat to two opposing playersmaiming one of them to the point that he sued Offerman for basically crippling his chances to make it in baseball. The anger management course (if Offerman ever took one, that is) apparently hasn’t straightened him out. This past week during a winter ball contest in the Dominican Republic, Offermandone with playing and now managingwent nose-to-nose with the home plate umpire after his catcher was ejected, and punched him in the chest. Offerman had to be led away by ballpark security and spent two hours in police custody, and could be arrested if the victimized umpire, Daniel Rayburn, files charges. That apparently won’t happen; after facing vicious heckling from the fans after the incident, Rayburn and the other three members of the umpiring crewall Americansresigned from the league and headed home.
Wounded of the Week
New year, same old problems for the New York Mets. The team devastated by injuries last season found out this week that they may already be without one of their marquee stars, Carlos Beltran, on Opening Day. Beltran elected to have surgery performed on his troublesome right knee this past week without the Mets’ approval. It’s the same knee that kept him out for half of 2009, and by the time he’s healthy and ready to play, it may not be until after regular season action has commenced.
Legally Screwed of the Week
Drunk, 300-pound Mets fan gets boisterous and falls on woman below her. Woman breaks back. Mets fan runs off. Woman sues Mets for negligence. Mets say this: You should have been looking behind you. That’s the story that’s emerged out of the New York Post this week after it was reported that the Mets want to dismiss the lawsuit of the woman, Ellen Massey, because her back injuries “were caused in whole or in part or were contributed to by (her) culpable conduct.” In other words, she was responsible for not looking behind her when there was a game she paid good bucks to see in front of her. All of this took place on Opening Day 2007 at Shea Stadium. The big guy responsible for falling on Massey claims he was pushed by another fan behind him who had gotten fed up by his repeated use of a Blackberry. To paraphrase 180 degrees from what Raul Julia famously said in The Gumball Rally: What’s behind you might just be important.
Did He At Least Turn Out the Lights
Milton Bradley’s one tumultuous year in Chicago not only consisted of an alienation of teammates and the press in the clubhouse, but apparently an alienation of his landlord at his apartment. Bradley’s been sued by that landlord for $44,000 in back rent, fees and interest after signing a one-year lease early last year. So let this be a warning to fellow landlords in Seattle, where Bradley is now seeking out a new residence close to his new team, the Mariners.
Son vs. Sun
Like father, like son, or so it seems. Nikolai Bonds, the 20-year old son of Barry Bonds, appeared in court this past week on charges that he assaulted and imprisoned his mother (Sun Bonds, long divorced from Barry) and vandalized her property in the process. (It also didn’t help Nikolai that he was uncooperative with police when they showed up.) The incident reportedly stemmed from Sun’s suspicions that Nikolai took off with some of her jewelry. Barry appeared with Nikolai for his court arraignment, in which he pled not guilty; the disputed home run king did not comment about the case, or his retirementor, of course, Mark McGwire.
A Chat With Baseball's Biggest Communist Fan
Lester Rodney, who pressed for racial integration within baseball through the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker a good ten years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, passed away on December 20 at the age of 98. One of the last people he gave an in-depth interview to was our own Ed Attanasio a few years back; that interview is now up in our They Were There section. Check it out now.
New and Improved at TGG
The Teams section has been updated to include results from the 2009 regular season.