1: BAN BAND-AIDS!
While I normally agree with you Steve, this time I just cannot. It is not because I am opposed to steroid users or consider myself "holier than thou". It is also not because of Mark McGwire's numbers. My objection is because by his own admission, McGwire took steroids to get on the field because of all his injuries. It is my contention that without the steroids, McGwire could not have played as much as he did (proven by his own history) and therefore would not have been able to put up the numbers that he did. If take the big years at the end of his career( when he admits to steroid use) and cut half of those seasons out for the injuries he always had prior to steroid use his numbers don't come up to hall consideration. His own prior history shows that this not unreasonable. —Vegasyanks
I guess we should throw out Hideki Matsui’s stats for last year because he took cortisone shots to keep his knees working. Maybe all those players who tried that new platelet-rich plasma therapy to heal injuries (Michael Young of the Rangers did it, and Xavier Nady tried it, too, as well as other players, and apparently half the NFL this year). If Derek Jeter took aspirin to play through a headache, let’s make sure he stays out of the Hall of Fame. And golly-gee-whiz-gosh we should clear out every ballplayer who ever took a stimulant, be it amphetamines (all of 1970s baseball, apparently) or black coffee (bye-bye, Joe DiMaggio; it was part of his pre-game ritual) to get up for a game when they were tired. If this is all steroids are—and we don’t know that, but we don’t know anything else, either—a way to stay on the field when the body won’t otherwise cooperate, then you need to make a convincing case for why they’re different than any other method that is legally used to make the injured player well. Heck, Tommy John surgery isn’t natural healing either. The distinction between this medicine and any other is purely arbitrary.
Arbitrary: I watched the talking heads gabble after on the MLB Network after McGwire’s interview with Bob Costas, and their big complaint was that he denied that steroids had any performance benefits for him. To them, that wasn’t being completely honest. That is purely an opinion. We have suppositions right now, moral condemnations being issued on the basis of what some non-medical types THINK they know. Track stars who juice their keisters off shave fractions of a second off of their times, not seconds. The vast majority of ballplayers who have been caught using have shown no performance benefit at all. As I wrote in Commentary last year, weightlifters are not dropping their barbells and pouring into baseball. It’s more complicated than that. It’s irresponsible to start arguing about McGwire’s performance OR his explanation when you truly cannot know if he’s correct in his assertions about performance benefits. You’re just making stuff up. It’s the same thing as saying, “Okay, he used it like a medicine, to get healthy enough to be on the field, but it was… Um… the wrong medicine.” Why? And don’t answer, “Because it could be bad for you,” because (A) it’s none of your business, and (B) you’ve clearly never seen one of those drug commercials where they explain that if you take what they’re selling and use it properly you could still have an adverse reaction where your head pops right off your body and flies around the room.
2: THUNK OF THE CHILDREN
Mr. Goldman, while I enjoyed your usual well considered comments, I cannot agree with you. If McGwire were admitted into the hall, that opens the door for Bonds, Clemens, etc.. The Hall voters would be telling the public "everyone else was doing it, and they're the best of their era, so they should be honored". No. The fact that the Hall's prior selections are compromised is no reason to look past PED users' mistakes, unless the case can be made that they have more than compensated the public for their betrayal. Think of all the kids who collected McGwire's cards (my own son), jerseys and posters, not the handful of past players who have experienced unfair treatment by the Hall. I do believe that the Hall should note PED users' field achievements along with their off-field errors, that is the role of a museum. Unlike Pete Rose, who I want to see inducted posthumously for his outstanding play, highly visible heavy steroid users should never be honored with plaques. This pains me because I want to see Andy Pettitte shock the baseball world and go on to win another 150 games, and the question will be raised, "Is a little PED use too much"? And would A-Rod be considered a heavy user or a "dabbler"? —mile
My whole point is that I don’t know what usage did for them. I know it made them ugly. It gave them bad skin and shrunken testes. In Jason Giambi’s case it might have caused a cancer. Beyond that, steroids, as McGwire said, don’t hit a baseball. They promote the creation of testosterone in the body which, combined with intensive exercise, allows one to become bigger, stronger, faster (as Will Carroll said to me, if you take steroids and then sit around the house watching TV, you’re not going to get anything out of it). If you do everything right, you could become bigger, stronger, and or faster. At that point, you still have to go out and hit a baseball just right for it to go over the wall. We’re asking a lot of a pill already. As I said above, weightlifters can’t hit. Upper-body strength has only so much to do with hitting a baseball for distance. Lose too much flexibility through becoming muscle-bound and you won’t be able to hit anyway. Track stars experience very minute improvements in their performances. You want to say Mark McGwire had to have had his performance enhanced, fine, but there is only so much you can legitimately deduct from his numbers based on what we know.
The outrage you’re expressing here is because he indulged in a stigmatized behavior. The question I have there is, is our outrage proportional to the weak benefit that he received? Would you feel the same way if McGwire was caught cheating on his taxes? He’s really guilty of a kind of dishonesty more than he is of putting up, pardon the pun, crooked numbers.
3: BAN SHIN GUARDS!
By his own admisssion, McGuire used a variety of substances to overcome or recover from injuries. Steroids have been shown to help one recover from a wide range of injuries (after all, they are often prescribed by MDs when medically indicated). So, putting aside whether or not so-called PED's actually do enhance performance at the plate or on the mound, what we still have is the fact that he used these substances to recover from injury, thereby increasing his career by X number of games or years. —garyfromcc
Again, this is wrong how? What if McGwire had suffered from depression? Should we condemn him for taking Prozac? I can name a half-dozen players off the top of my head who had their careers disrupted or ended by psychological problems. Better they had to retire to their suffering than keep playing with the help of a pill, right?
I was just thinking about Joe DiMaggio and his black coffee. He was a smoker, too. During the latter stages of his 1941 hitting streak, as the pressure to keep going increased, the Clipper would stand in the dugout runway, chain-smoking cigarette after cigarette to calm his nerves. What is it about cigarettes that calms your nerves? Nicotine. Nicotine is a drug. Say it isn’t so, Joltin’ Joe!