Posted on: January 12, 2010 10:27 pm
This morning, on his radio show, Colin Cowherd, while speaking about college football fans, shared his opinion that many of us who enjoy posting on message boards have very good analysis, but that our biases about our home schools get in the way and make our takes .... well, lousy. Of course, this was both after he ripped Mark McGwire for a bit .... and yea, BEFORE he began ripping him again. This little prescript is not, however, about any perceived bias that I felt was coming through his reporting of Big Mac's admission of using both steroids and HGH during his career. THIS is about how Colin's take forced me to take stock about my feelings about this whole situation.
You see, I was a HUGE Mark McGwire fan. Here was a guy who was about my age, who seemed to have the same values as me and who was living my dream. When he broke in and had that huge rookie year, I began following. When he reached 49 home runs that same season, and THEN passed on a chance for 50 to be with his wife during the birth of his son, I started admiring. And when he was sitting on a extended contract and all kinds of players were getting huge money, a reporter asked him if he was considering holding out. McGwire answered (paraphrasing here, to the best of my recollection) something like, 'I have a contract. If I were to hold out, it would be going back on my word. If I'm meant to make more money, then it will still be there when my current contract runs out. I have absolutely no respect for anyone who holds out while currently under contract.' THAT is when I became a HUGE fan.
My dilemma now, while trying to convey my take on his admission, is to attempt to separate my bias FOR McGwire from the fact that I feel using performance enhancing drugs is cheating. Here goes ......
Mark McGwire cheated. Does the FACT that many other players cheated in this manner make this any less offensive? I would like to say yes, but the answer is no. Are his accomplishments now tainted? I would like to say no .... but the answer is yes.
However, do I feel he deserves to be crucified? Unequivocally, no. SO many players obviously cheated. How many who were not 'outed' by a failed drug test have admitted it? NONE. You all know the names, I don't need to list them here. Who believes that a player who played for 15 seasons, hit a total of 210 homers during that career with 50 coming in 1996, and a mere 160 coming over the other 14 seasons didn't get a little extra pop that season out of needle? There are many examples like this, so obviously Mark is just the tip of the iceberg. But it does not matter who cheated, or how many others cheated, the fact remains that Mark McGwire cheated.
But I wish to close with something a little different, and ask you to put yourself into the story as you read on. I was a pretty good high school baseball player. In fact, locally, I was a little bit of a star. I probably wasn't the most talented player in my area, but I was close. And I am well aware that THE WAY I played the game brought people out to the park. I was that guy who could lead off, bat cleanup, or anywhere else in the lineup and do the job expected. As a leadoff hitter for my school team I had some nice pop, averaging about 4 or 5 homers a year, had a high on base percentage and stole more than two bases a game. As a cleanup hitter on my summer team, I concentrated on driving the ball more, resulting in a huge slugging percentage and being one of the league leaders in RBIs year in and year out. I always seemed to come up in clutch situations, and, nearly every time, I delivered. I was the guy who slid head first, made diving catches in the field and threw out more baserunners from the outfield than anyone else I knew. All of this merely got me some nice letters from Division 2 schools along with one form letter from a prominent D-1 school. But I wasn't good enough. I'm not sharing this to brag on myself, the past is the past and I wasn't good enough. I grew up, I live with it and am grateful for the memories of those glory days.
But here's the thing ...... I was pretty close. If someone had come to me and told me that if I took this pill my reaction time would be faster, I could hit the ball just a little bit farther and that I would be able to run faster .... and yes, "If you take this, you'll stand a good chance at playing professionally", would I have done it? Well, it wasn't illegal at the time. No one knew all of the ramifications of the side effects of taking PEDs. I would like to say "no" ..... but, HELL YEA, I would have tried it anyway. You tell me I could play pro ball if I take this? My only question would have been, "How much?" I have to believe that most of the people reading this, if you were REALLY being honest, would answer the same way.
Does THAT make what Mark McGwire admitted to any less offensive to me? No. But ...... I understand.