Welcome Back Mark McGwire, Savior of Baseball

“I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

Now we officially know that Mark McGwire used Performance Enhancing Drugs (“PEDs”)

What we don’t know with any assurance is who did not use PEDs.

So when Tim Brown of Yahoo attacks Mark McGwire by saying that McGwire “was the steroid era” and that McGwire “wasted our time,” Brown is talking nonsense. Yes, all players did not use steroids, but many, maybe most, did. What made Mark McGwire different was that he was the second best juicer at hitting home runs.

Also, he saved baseball in 1998
. Remember? If he hadn’t, Brown might be writing about a sport with an equivalent stature to hockey.

McGwire is correct to regret being a player in the steroid era. Had there not been a steroid era, McGwire would be in the Hall of Fame already.

The evidence that “everyone” used PEDs is strong. The Mitchell Report identified 89 players who allegedly used. But, we know this was a sampling, not anything near a complete list. Aside from a handful of random people who spontaneously confessed or were accidentally detected, the Mitchell Report only includes those in webs connected to five providers: BALCO, former Met batboy and clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, former Yankee strength coach Brian McNamee, and two rejuvenation clinics in the South. Fifty two were associated with Radomski, who was required to talk to Mitchell as part of his sentence for money laundering and illegal drug distribution.

Only a fool would believe that all, or even most of the PEDs in MLB came from these five sources. These providers are just the ones who were busted and forced to squeal. You have to believe that there were providers in all major league cities. Think Houston or St Louis. Or the Bash Brothers. McGwire’s use was apparently connected to widespread availability connected to gyms, as presumably was the case with many others. Sammy Sosa, to pick a random name, has not been connected with any of these sources.

In 2002, the Major League Players Association agreed to testing of all players to see if there was a problem. 104 players tested positive, admittedly a group with some overlap to those identified in the Mitchell report. The results were supposed to be kept secret, but some, like David Ortiz and A-Rod, have leaked out since the federal government obtained a copy of the list.

But wait, there’s more. Testing procedures have improved since these 2002 tests. Barry Bonds apparently was not on the original list, but when his sample was retested in 2004 at UCLA, it came back positive. It is unknown how many of the “clean” samples in 2002 would be dirty if retested today. Probably quite a few.

Maybe everyone did not use steroids, but it may be easier to count those who did not. Some others who claim not to have used did their bit by being active in the player’s union’s resistance to effective testing or significant sanctions. All concerned share the blame for enjoying the feats rather than doing anything about the drugs. It is patently unfair to put the onus on McGwire.

He should be back in baseball, as he now is, and because he was an elite player, he should be in the Hall of Fame. His “confession,” while inartful, has far more truth than A-Rod’s or Ortiz’s. Time to accept him and move on.

Who knew?





~ by skaus on January 17, 2010.

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