FanDuel - WFBC

October 25, 2009

Mark McGwire to rejoin Cardinals?: "We're getting closer," La Russa told ESPN.com on Sunday. "But nothing has been decided yet. I can't tell you anything yet."

posted by BoKnows to baseball at 08:08 PM - 49 comments

I'm sure his coaching approach towards helping hitters will be for them to focus on the present at-bat and not think about the past.

posted by dyams at 12:25 AM on October 26

Sammy Sosa could be the first base coach. Barry Bonds the third base coach. Rafael Palmeiro bench coach and Roger Clemens pitching coach.

posted by otbagain at 12:32 AM on October 26

I'm sure if he can impart any pitch recognition skills upon the lesser lights of the Cardinals, he'll prove to be quite useful.

He should, however, stay away from Pujols.

That's a dude who really doesn't need to change anything.

posted by grum@work at 01:21 AM on October 26

How about we let Pujols teach the other guys to hit. He does pretty well. Based on overall career batting stats, McGwire is a huge step down from Hal McRae.

Sammy Sosa could be the first base coach. Barry Bonds the third base coach. Rafael Palmeiro bench coach and Roger Clemens pitching coach.

Just for fun, let's say McGwire does come back to St. Louis. Sosa returns to Chicago. Clemens to NY, Boston, Houston - you pick. Raffy goes to Baltimore and so on down the list. Each coaching their respective positions that they excelled in while allegedly using steroids/PEDs. That would be some ridiculous irony of untold ridiculousness.

posted by BoKnows at 01:43 AM on October 26

the cards new team doctor?

posted by irunfromclones at 02:29 AM on October 26

new team nutritionist? trainer? pharmacist?

posted by cletus7777 at 04:39 AM on October 26

McGwire will probably also act as the team's strength coach. His program seems to show results.

posted by dyams at 07:29 AM on October 26

Yahoo's take.

posted by BoKnows at 12:41 PM on October 26

I still fail to see why McGuire is pilloried for not spilling his guts to a bunch of Congressmen. What business was it of theirs?

I really wish he had said, "Well, I had to show up since you subpoenaed me, but here's what I think of this travesty," then hopped up on the table, dropped his pants and taken a big dump.

If he was juicing, it wasn't illegal, it wasn't against the rules of baseball and the league played the results up for all they were worth.

Yeah, that's all Mark McGwire's fault, all right.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:41 PM on October 26

Espn is reporting it as a done deal.

posted by Debo270 at 02:06 PM on October 26

Based on overall career batting stats, McGwire is a huge step down from Hal McRae.

If by "career batting stats," you mean batting average, then yes, you are correct.

posted by holden at 02:45 PM on October 26

I just don't see what the big deal surrounding McGwire is all about. Sure, he looked like a fool when kept repeating the same answer to Congress ("I'm not here to talk aout the past") but what was the man ever guilty of? Suspicion? Rumors? Other than scumbag Canseco, there wasn't any talk of Mark McGwire and PED's.

Granted, after the Congress debacle McGwire slid under a rock and failed to appear anywhere but whatever took place before MLB instituted a drug policy should stay in the past so that we can move forward.

posted by BornIcon at 03:43 PM on October 26

If you don't think Mark McGwire abused performance enhancing drugs, what motive did he have for refusing to answer questions before Congress? Your deference to star athletes is breathtaking sometimes.

posted by rcade at 03:59 PM on October 26

Maybe he just didn't see the point in answering questions from self-serving, grandstanding assholes?

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:00 PM on October 26

If he was juicing, it wasn't illegal, it wasn't against the rules of baseball and the league played the results up for all they were worth.

Since it wasn't illegal, McGwire could have said all of that. Instead, he took the route that showed he knew what he did was too shameful to discuss.

If an athlete like McGwire had admitted everything and challenged the league and the fans to own up to the role they played in it, who knows what would have happened? Maybe we would have moved further past it. I don't care whether he coaches the Cards, but I wouldn't want someone so gutless affiliated with my organization.

A Rod certainly seems to have neutralized the issue by coming clean. Or at least clean enough for people to believe him.

posted by rcade at 04:05 PM on October 26

Let's pretend you're Mark McGwire.

You're being singled out on national television by the government of the United Fucking States of America as Public Enemy No. 1 for something that wasn't illegal and even against the rules in your own sport. And, the sport you helped lift back up after its own stupid greed and pig-headedness nearly sank it, they have no interest in coming clean themselves, right?

So you should be the guy to shoulder all of that? Why? What possible good does it do you when in your heart, you're most likely thinking you did what you needed to succeed, what the baseball establishment was telling you do and what the fans wanted?

If an athlete like McGwire had admitted everything and challenged the league and the fans to own up to the role they played in it, who knows what would have happened?

I'm sure as soon as he admitted to everything, baseball's owners and management would have come rushing into the halls of Congress to embrace him. They're all stand-up guys, right?

And all the others hundreds or thousands of guys who cheated, they would have all come out of the woodwork to support him. They would have all said, "By golly, that Mark McGwire has shamed us -- we should get up there ourselves."

And fans would have immediately forgiven him, because we all know how rational and understanding fans are. They wouldn't have turned on him even after being the ones cheering him on to break the record.

Nope, he wouldn't have been hung out in the wind, not a chance.

Let me ask you -- do you think Mark McGwire is better off being disliked by you for not answering questions from Congress, or better off taking the chance (at the time) being known as the one guy from his era who absolutely and unequivocally juiced? Where's the benefit of that?

A Rod certainly seems to have neutralized the issue by coming clean. Or at least clean enough for people to believe him.

Of course ARod came clean -- it certainly appears he can't stand not having the approval and attention of everyone around him. Maybe McGwire doesn't need the blessing of you, I or the Congress to get on with his life.

Or maybe he just thinks it's none of your business.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:32 PM on October 26

Your deference to star athletes is breathtaking sometimes.

Really? In my eyes it tends to be about just this subject.

While I wish steroid use had never happened, it did, and it did so under the watchful eye of the baseball establishment and the fans. The amount of hypocritical and ridiculous horseshit spread by people who were more than willing to pony up their dollars and look the other way while it was happening is a little sickening.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:35 PM on October 26

My comment about deference was directed to someone else.

As for your elaborate rationalization for McGwire's gutlessness, sorry I'm not buying. People hate hypocrisy more than just about anything. Hugh Grant cheats on one of the most beautiful actresses in the world to get a $60 blowjob from a scary street hooker. One act of honest contrition on Jay Leno later, and he's still got a career as a leading man in romantic films.

Think about that. Surely the public regards skeevy hooker sexers as worse than legal steroid abusers, and Hugh Grant had a career that depended on public likability far more than a pro athlete. Post apology, he's starred in films that grossed more than $1 billion at the box office.

If McGwire had manned up and said exactly what drugs he took and why, he'd be an adored public figure and media darling. Instead, he's a guy who can't even slink back to the bigs as a hitting coach without it being treated like Roman Polanski coming back to the United States.

This "none of your business" stuff is silly. He was the single-season home run king, the holder of one of the most revered records in American sports. He was paid $74 million dollars in his career. His conduct in the game is hardly a private matter.

posted by rcade at 05:01 PM on October 26

Let's pretend you're Mark McGwire.

As an aside, just once, I would like to see someone who gets caught in a misdeed stand up before the microphones and say, "I did it, I enjoyed it, and my only regret is that I got caught. I intend to do it again as soon as circumstances permit."

posted by rcade at 05:09 PM on October 26

I am puzzled, he got his home run power by cheating and he had a lifetime batting average of .263, how does this qualify him to be a hitting coach?

posted by Atheist at 05:21 PM on October 26

If by "career batting stats," you mean batting average, then yes, you are correct.

Not really, I meant just about everything except home runs. Hal McRae may not have the flashy numbers but he was way more of a complete hitter. At the end of McGwire's career, he was an all or nothing pull hitter. McRae struck out less than half as much (779 vs 1596) as McGwire while playing 100+ more games. That stat alone is the smart, patient hitter that I would want to employ for my teams instruction.

posted by BoKnows at 05:35 PM on October 26

If McGwire had manned up and said exactly what drugs he took and why, he'd be an adored public figure and media darling.

I think there's a better chance that he does that if that ridiculous hearing had happened this year. But think about the steroids landscape of 2005: you're in the first serious wave of steroids outrage, everybody is treating it like a moral issue and not a legislative/technical one, and the guy who has the closest public association with steroids is Barry Bonds, who is vilified by pretty much everybody everywhere.

That's not a cauldron I'd be ready to throw myself into. I can't blame him for doing his best to keep a low profile and stay out of it as much as possible. He had no way of knowing when, or even if, things would become more reasonable.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 05:45 PM on October 26

Hugh Grant cheats on one of the most beautiful actresses in the world to get a $60 blowjob from a scary street hooker. One act of honest contrition on Jay Leno later, and he's still got a career as a leading man in romantic films.

You are aware Hugh Grant didn't make a movie for three or four years after that came out?

Look, I'm not arguing about the "manning up" part. I wish he'd blasted the pants off baseball also. But I agree more with what the good Doc just said -- I don't think, given the climate and all the faux outrage at the time, that I would have wanted to have been the one to jump out and take the bullet for baseball.

And to say this ...

If McGwire had manned up and said exactly what drugs he took and why, he'd be an adored public figure and media darling.

You have no proof of that whatsoever. You think that -- and I think he would have been plastered on every front page from here to Scranton under the headline, "HE CHEATED!" How's that better than people thinking what they do now?

Maybe he will come out and say something now -- now that he's had timet o reflect, now that he can drive the message (and not a bunch of asshat politicians trying to divert attention from their own failings), now that the country seems less likely to pick up their pitchforks.

But if he doesn't, I'm still fine with him.

This "none of your business" stuff is silly. He was the single-season home run king, the holder of one of the most revered records in American sports. He was paid $74 million dollars in his career. His conduct in the game is hardly a private matter.

The guy didn't break any rules, he didn't break any laws and was generally well-liked by his teammates (this from a teammate of his I know). Maybe you can make a case for knowing because of the sanctity of the game, but what he was paid? That sounds like you'd wish the hate on him out of jealousy.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:17 PM on October 26

You have no proof of that whatsoever.

That goes without saying. But there are many examples of people who done wrong, came clean and got through it swimmingly. The ones who get out in front of it do better. David Letterman played his audience like a fiddle when revealing his affairs. It became a blackmail story, not a smarmy boss story.

The ones who seem to be hiding something are like chum for sharks.

If McGwire was smart, he could've put on a whole show before the Congressional hearing, complete with a sympathetic 60 Minutes interview and the like.

Maybe you can make a case for knowing because of the sanctity of the game, but what he was paid? That sounds like you'd wish the hate on him out of jealousy.

I don't know why you would make that connection, which falsely assumes that I don't think he was worth the money. I can't recall ever expressing such a thought on SportsFilter over an athlete's compensation. I'd rather they earn it than the owners keeping it all. I don't watch sports to see owners own.

I mentioned his salary because he profited handsomely in a career that put him in the spotlight. Turning the spotlight off now -- the "none of your business" notion -- is a little late in the game. He made it our business by becoming a multimillionaire pro athlete.

posted by rcade at 07:01 PM on October 26

At the end of McGwire's career, he was an all or nothing pull hitter. McRae struck out less than half as much (779 vs 1596) as McGwire while playing 100+ more games. That stat alone is the smart, patient hitter that I would want to employ for my teams instruction.

This. Which begs the question in my mind, do the Cards only care about the long ball (since after all, chicks dig it!), or is LaRussa doing this more as a publicity stunt/bid to help McGuire attract renewed interest in an effort to get him into the Hall of Fame.

Granted, after the Congress debacle McGwire slid under a rock and failed to appear anywhere but whatever took place before MLB instituted a drug policy should stay in the past so that we can move forward.

This too. Course that means Bonds is a sure thing first ballot Hall of Famer also, right?

But what's most interesting to me is the part of the article which noted that Connie Mack had a career losing percentage. (3731 wins, 3948 losses) I did not know this!

That and the fact that some of our premier SpoFi experts are also big Hugh Grant fans! ;-)

posted by MW12 at 07:32 PM on October 26

Also interesting, McGuire's lifetime batting average is exactly the same as the Cards team average in 2009 at .263. See here

So what exactly makes this an upgrade for the team?

posted by MW12 at 07:45 PM on October 26

So what exactly makes this an upgrade for the team?

Nothing. It isn't an upgrade at all. Of course, now that I've said it, I'll be proven wrong during 2010 when the Cards have an offensive explosion that will no doubt be contributed solely to McGwire.

posted by BoKnows at 07:49 PM on October 26

See, what you want to be doing is hitting dingers.

posted by dusted at 08:22 PM on October 26

McRae struck out less than half as much (779 vs 1596) as McGwire while playing 100+ more games.

Well, I can't just leave that hanging. There used to be a phrase for this sort of thing around here...

McGwire:
PA: 7660
Walks: 1317
OBP: .394

McRae:
PA: 8058
Walks: 648
OBP: .351

McRae had a decent batting eye (22 points above league average for his career in OBP), but McGwire had an amazing batting eye (62 points abvoe league average for his career in OBP).

Of course, one of the greatest batting eyes in baseball history (122 points above league average for his career in OBP) was a TERRIBLE teacher/manager, so who knows how this will work out.

posted by grum@work at 08:55 PM on October 26

Well, I can't just leave that hanging. There used to be a phrase for this sort of thing around here...

I presented the links of both players stats in an earlier post. But I will do so again.

I guess when I look at McGwire's career stats, I see a bunch of home runs and RBIs, but also a bunch of strikeouts. He was also very inconsistent year-to-year in almost every category.

Looking at McRae's stats I see a more complete hitter, the jack-of-all-trades if you will. Good amount of doubles and triples. A consistent batting average year to year. He never really had a big drop-off in any stat, season to season.

My opinion would be to take Hal McRae over McGwire in the role of a batting/hitting coach due to him just being a more complete hitter. That said, if it was possible to teach every guy in the lineup how to hit dingers, McGwire would be the guy for sure. But that's just not reality. Especially when playing under LaRussa, who manages a very situational type of game.

You have a point with the walks, at least in terms of total number. But that number doesn't take into account the intentional vs. the unintentional vs. the unintentional intentional walks. And 511 (about 40%) of McGwire's walks came from 1996-1999 (only 25% of his 16 year career), when he was receiving what was later dubbed as the 'Bond's Treatment' at the plate. The walks were not always a part of his game. The situations were different, as were the aspects of the game from 1970-1987 (McRae) and 1986-2001(McGwire).

posted by BoKnows at 09:55 PM on October 26

But that number doesn't take into account the intentional vs. the unintentional vs. the unintentional intentional walks.

Well, for their entire careers, intentional walks accounted for 11.3% of McGwire's total walks. For Hal McRae, it accounted for 10.5%.

That's not that big of a difference.

The walks were not always a part of his game.

Huh? For 1000 consecutive games (18 seasons, 1992-2000), his OBP was .434.

He's ALWAYS been about the walks and the HR, even when he struggled with his batting average.

posted by grum@work at 12:47 AM on October 27

Well, for their entire careers, intentional walks accounted for 11.3% of McGwire's total walks. For Hal McRae, it accounted for 10.5%.

What that stat doesn't reflect is all the time McGwire was "pitched around" from 1996-1999. On the scorecard it appears as a walk, but the intent of the pitcher was to get him to swing at bad balls and to walk him rather than put something in the strike zone for him to crush. Or, when the count is 3-1, and the pitcher just walks him on the fourth pitch to try his luck with the next batter. Just the same as Bonds. My point is that because of that treatment, which seems unquantifiable, the elevated # of walks and increase in OBP doesn't suggest that he is a smart hitter who earned each of those walks.

The walks were not always a part of his game.

Huh? For 1000 consecutive games (18 seasons, 1992-2000), his OBP was .434.

I'll concede the 18 years that spanned between 1992 and 2000. I don't know how he did it, but it sounds amazing. You have me there on paper, but if you remove 1996-1999, his OBP drops to .369 (1986-1995), still above the AL average during those years, but not near the increase when including 1996-1999. (I think we all can agree that during the years 1996-1999, Mark McGwire was using methods that may have significantly contributed to his power numbers and were eventually banned.)

My opinion isn't that McGwire is undeserving of the job, or the HOF, or being known as a great power hitter. I was there in St. Louis during the entire Home Run chase in 98. It was great and he was great fun to watch. It's that I think Hal McRae was a better all-around hitter consistently through his career. And if consistent player performance translates into coaching ability that generates consistency, I'd choose McRae to coach my teams hitters.

posted by BoKnows at 01:57 AM on October 27

If he was juicing, it wasn't illegal, it wasn't against the rules of baseball and the league played the results up for all they were worth.

Really!!! Just because baseball doesn't have the balls to test. Steriod use in the USA is illegal.

posted by otbagain at 02:42 AM on October 27

If you don't think Mark McGwire abused performance enhancing drugs, what motive did he have for refusing to answer questions before Congress?

If you took that as me saying that I don't think McGwire did PED's, you're mistaken. After everything that's been found out so far, I do believe that just about everyone took something, we just don't really know what McGwire took since he disappeared after Capitol Hill without saying much of anything.

Your deference to star athletes is breathtaking sometimes.

Even if it was Joe Schmo, I would be saying the same thing. It's not about a person being a superstar, it's about not believing everything you read or hear.

Maybe he just didn't see the point in answering questions from self-serving, grandstanding assholes?

I thought the same thing since he was subpoenaed. That's doesn't mean that he had to answer any questions, he could've just pleaded the 5th which is why the court of public opinion already says that he's guilty but he brought that upon himself by not admitting what he's done in the past and repeating the same thing over & over while sweating like Brendan Fraser in Bedazzled.

A Rod certainly seems to have neutralized the issue by coming clean. Or at least clean enough for people to believe him.

I can agree with that.

Course that means Bonds is a sure thing first ballot Hall of Famer also, right?

Well, first ballot may be a stretch considering the votes are in the writers hands but I don't see why Bonds wouldn't get into the Hall of Fame. He was worthy of that honor when he was with the Pirates and what happened with the Giants was just a bonus.

/I know, I know...but still

posted by BornIcon at 08:03 AM on October 27

What that stat doesn't reflect is all the time McGwire was "pitched around" from 1996-1999. On the scorecard it appears as a walk, but the intent of the pitcher was to get him to swing at bad balls and to walk him rather than put something in the strike zone for him to crush.

At this point, you're digging for numbers to support your hypothesis. Every time grum shows what we stat nerds who know nothing about the Real Game would consider evidence, you come up with some fuzzy reason why the stats aren't real. Given your last sally, I would just ask this: if Mark McGwire was "pitched around" for 3 consecutive years in a way Hal McRae was never pitched around, doesn't that suggest McGwire was a better hitter?

It's all fluff anyway. Good hitters don't necessarily make good hitting coaches and bad hitters aren't always bad hitting coaches. But there's no way you can find someone who would take an in-his-prime Hal McRae over Mark McGwire if they were drafting DHs, is there?

posted by yerfatma at 09:34 AM on October 27

If the argument is that McRae would make a better hitting coach then McGwire because he hit for a higher average and struck out less, well I don't know what to tell you. I've never seen stats measure out to predict coaching ability.

If the argument that McRae fits the more classic definition of a hitting coach, again I'm not sure that's true. Look up Walt Hriniak's career stats some day. Or Gene Tenace. And how come Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and George Brett aren't hitting coaches, then?

Because none of that matters.

Oh and Mark McGwire was a different kind of hitter than McRae, but there is no one in the annals of baseball history who would ever - EVER - suggest that McRae was a BETTER hitter than McGwire.

McGwire was the better hitter.

And just so we're all clear - Batting Average is the not the best metric to measure how "good" a hitter is. OBP is much more revealing.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:32 AM on October 27

you come up with some fuzzy reason why the stats aren't real.

That's not true at all. I recall questioning the application of stats one other time. Usually, I let the stats speak for themselves. Generalize much?

if Mark McGwire was "pitched around" for 3 consecutive years in a way Hal McRae was never pitched around, doesn't that suggest McGwire was a better hitter?

For those 4 years (1996-1999), yes, I agree.

But there's no way you can find someone who would take an in-his-prime Hal McRae over Mark McGwire if they were drafting DHs, is there?

Not even me. In fact, I said something similar:

That said, if it was possible to teach every guy in the lineup how to hit dingers, McGwire would be the guy for sure.

I don't need to be right here, yerfatma. You don't have to agree with my opinion, because that's all it is, an opinion. I stated that in almost every post in this thread and I gave my reasons to why I think that way. If you and grum want to base it all on numbers, that's okay. We'll agree to disagree.

posted by BoKnows at 10:39 AM on October 27

Oh, and it's nice to hear you again grummy. This place is better with you in it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:47 AM on October 27

Look what I started and then did not have the decency to stick around and debate. But at least now we know what incantations to chant to summon grum.

posted by holden at 11:17 AM on October 27

I don't need to be right here, yerfatma. You don't have to agree with my opinion, because that's all it is, an opinion.

I think that's a bit of an easy out when you were a bit coy in the same response:

For those 4 years (1996-1999), yes, I agree.

Which years would you say McRae was the better hitter than McGwire? McGwire's career OPS+, which is the best way I know of to compare hitters across eras, is 162. McRae never had a single season above 153.

posted by yerfatma at 11:39 AM on October 27

I think that's a bit of an easy out when you were a bit coy in the same response:

I was coy because you were correcting my stats with bad addition. And I am not looking for an easy out. I was clear from the beginning that it was my opinion.

Which years would you say McRae was the better hitter than McGwire?

I never said he was a better hitter. I said a more complete hitter. I also said a jack-of-all-trades hitter. A more consistent hitter. A better all-around hitter throughout his enitire career. I said a smart, patient hitter. I never said better. And those qualities are what I would look for when judging the ability to instruct a whole team of players who each have their own style and ability. Like you suggested earlier, if the objective were to draft DHs, McGwire would be the better guy for that job.

posted by BoKnows at 01:49 PM on October 27

I never said he was a better hitter. I said a more complete hitter. I also said a jack-of-all-trades hitter. A more consistent hitter. A better all-around hitter throughout his enitire career. I said a smart, patient hitter. I never said better.

posted by yerfatma at 02:03 PM on October 27

I never said better without a description of in what facet. You're argueing just to argue. If that is a victory to you, congrats.

posted by BoKnows at 02:12 PM on October 27

fac⋅et n. aspect; phase

Compare with "all-around".

posted by yerfatma at 02:41 PM on October 27

Sorry for my absence -- I'm trying to help set up the flow of NASCAR products into Canada for next year.

David Letterman played his audience like a fiddle when revealing his affairs. It became a blackmail story, not a smarmy boss story. The ones who seem to be hiding something are like chum for sharks.

If McGwire was smart, he could've put on a whole show before the Congressional hearing, complete with a sympathetic 60 Minutes interview and the like.

You've used David Letterman and Hugh Grant as models for what McGwire should have done. However, both of them -- as would be true for all "celebrity" examples -- were:

a) In the middle of lucrative careers, not done with them; b) Dependent on the public and media to provide them with fame and attention to continue those careers.

McGwire was finished in baseball and didn't need the publicity or the money. In face, as has been pointed out, he is a very private man who didn't seek the spotlight when he was playing the game.

If he was smart, he would have laid his soul bare to the American public? I don't see that as necessarily smart given how stupid and vindictive much of that public is, and (perhaps the bigger issue) perhaps he just doesn't give a fuck what everyone else thinks.

I don't know why you would make that connection, which falsely assumes that I don't think he was worth the money. I can't recall ever expressing such a thought on SportsFilter over an athlete's compensation.

I mentioned his salary because he profited handsomely in a career that put him in the spotlight. Turning the spotlight off now -- the "none of your business" notion -- is a little late in the game. He made it our business by becoming a multimillionaire pro athlete.

I wasn't saying I thought that. I was saying that I could see someone thinking that if this was his or her first time reading your thoughts, and that you were giving a very specific number to say, "Look exactly how much money this ungrateful jerk made!"

As for making it our business, you make it sound as if you didn't know at the time. Did you ignore baseball during this stretch? Did you shut off games where McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, et al, were playing? If you didn't, why do you need McGwire to put himself on the cross? It sounds like you need someone to die for our baseball sins.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:31 PM on October 27

a) In the middle of lucrative careers, not done with them ...

Hugh Grant's career as a romantic leading man in movies easily could have been over if he didn't handle his skeevy hooker incident well.

It sounds like you need someone to die for our baseball sins.

I don't need anything here. I'm simply looking at what Mark McGwire did in his career, what he told Congress, and where his reputation is at today -- the toilet. In my opinion, it didn't have to be that way.

People wanted to like McGwire. Performance-enhancing drugs were not against the rules in his day. If he had come clean, admitted what he took and why, and told the kids watching him the dangerous risks they were taking by doing the same, he could've walked out of that hearing with his held held high. The media would've eaten it up.

The most significant issue at that hearing wasn't the honor of baseball or the reputation of players like McGwire. It was the dead kids whose parents were there talking about the price their children paid for steroid abuse.

McGwire testified he would "use whatever influence and popularity I have" to discourage young athletes from using steroids. He didn't accomplish that by being evasive about his past at the hearing, and I'm not aware of anything he's done since then to discourage steroid use. Every day he evades answering the question is a missed opportunity, particularly now that he's back in baseball.

posted by rcade at 09:28 PM on October 27

Hugh Grant's career as a romantic leading man in movies easily could have been over if he didn't handle his skeevy hooker incident well.

My point was that Grant had to come out and say something or his career might have been over. His livelihood is directly dependent on his acceptance by the public. Of course, as I pointed out, Hollywood avoided him like Grant avoided attractive prostitutes for three or four years after that.

McGwire had no such pressing need. His career was done, and he is apparently a private man. I think it unfair to club him over the head with this because he wasn't willing to be the sacrificial lamb.

You also seem to think McGwire is hated. He's not, at least not among the people I know who were fans of his before. They seem to see the whole Congressional fiasco as unfortunate but understandable, and think, as I do, that maybe we would have treated it the same way.

I think there is a group of people who now have an intense dislike for McGwire which thinks he should have thrown himself on the steroids hand grenade for the good of baseball, no matter his own inclination or well-being. It's nice to assign that sort of bravery and selflessness to someone else, but I also think it's a little unfair to expect it -- unless you're absolutely certain you would have taken the bullet when everyone else around you (including a guy who outright lied to Congress) was ducking and dodging like crazy.

Again, do I believe he took steroids? Yes, I do. Do I think he was under institutional pressure to do so? Yes, I do. Do I think baseball knew exactly what was going on and gave its tacit approval until it became clear the public was unhappy about it? Yes, I do.

Do I fault the guy for not bowing to the pressure of a ridiculous Congressional circus and fearing being the only guy out there (aside from our grandstanding friend Jose Canseco) making himself available to be the punching bag for the press and public?

Not one bit.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:52 AM on October 28

I'm waiting to hear a story where a ball player took steroids and his career still went to shit. We only hear about the guys that used or are suspected of using PED's that were or still are the stars of the game (McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Pettit, A-Rod just to name a few) but we never hear about the other side of the spectrum. Most of the guys that I've mentioned already had great or very good careers before any of the steriod talk even surfaced.

I find it hard to believe that there are no players out there who's career went nowhere before and after taking PED's.

posted by BornIcon at 11:51 AM on October 28

McGwire had no such pressing need.

Only if you believe that when he left the game, he didn't care whether he reached the Hall of Fame.

You also seem to think McGwire is hated.

I'm not alone in thinking that he's extremely unpopular since that hearing. McGwire, widely considered a future Hall of Famer at his retirement, got under 25% in balloting last time around. Longtime sportswriter Art Spander writes, "What Mark McGwire presumably realized is he wants dearly to be in the Hall, and to do that needs to rehabilitate an image that has been pounded as he once pounded the ball."

posted by rcade at 12:43 PM on October 28

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