Regardless of how much horse testosterone he may have injected into his scrotum,how many times he might have injected gorilla hormones into Jose CansecoÂs ass or how many times he supposedly had to have his girlfriend pop the zits on his back, Mark McGwire should be preparing his acceptance speech for his induction into Cooperstown instead of hiding inside his gated community in Irvine.
However, the very scribes and arbiters of greatness who praised McGwire not 10 years ago for helping to save their beloved game now have the nerve to turn their back on him because he allegedly used steroids and exercised his fifth-amendment right when questioned about steroid use by a Congress so corrupt and misguided (steroids over an inquiry into the war in Iraq?) that Jose Canseco was the most honest man in the chamber that day.
Baseball is, and always has been, a brutal sport dominated by ruthless business practices and shady characters. Some of its greatest icons have been rewarded by blatant subjectivity and, for its first 80 years, it was a sport plagued by virulent racism.
It is a game lorded over by venal, self-righteous owners who bask in the glow of Âthe national pastime.Â Yet, as a rule, they shy away from responsibility when problems arise. They have enjoyed exemption from anti-trust regulations and held cities hostage, forcing public funding of the palaces that their teams play in. When it was found that a majority of the gameÂs athletes were using performance-enhancing drugs for the better part of two-decades, the owners, who enjoyed record profits and chose to ignore obvious steroid use, blamed the players for everything. So sadly, it is perfectly fitting that someone like Mark McGwire will never enter the gameÂs Hall of Fame.
McGwire came up with the Oakland AÂs as a tall, skinny kid from USC with a shock of red hair and a big, looping, powerful swing. During his rookie year, however, he showed a home run swing that was as lethal as it was beautiful. Smacking 49 home runs in 1987, he shattered the rookie home run record and was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year.
Along with Jose Canseco, McGwire was part of one of the most devastating slugging tandems in the history of baseball. Canseco and McGwire also allegedly became one of the great pairs of
steroid-injecting butt-buddies in baseball history. According to
Canseco, they used to inject one another in the toilet with the full knowledge and consent of then-manager Tony LaRussa. And, with the young sluggers suddenly taking on the physiques of Hawk and Animal, how could ownership or the press have suspected a thing?
After the cancellation of the 1994 World Series gave everyone a reason to find something else to do during his or her summers like fuck, drink, party and light shit on fire, baseball went in the shitter.
Then back came McGwire, wielding a bat that looked like a bear femur. In 1996, aged 33 and bigger than ever after a career plagued by mysterious injuries, he started to slug at a prodigious rate. Over a two-year span he clubbed 110 home runs, a total surpassed only by Babe Ruth.
By the time McGwire was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997, he was a hulk of a man. More carnival sideshow freak than ballplayer, he was a one-act geek incapable of the clutch hit or moving a man over; only able to hit meaningless tape measure home runs and draw countless walks from frightened second-rate pitchers while his team languished in the middle of the standings.
At best, he was an incredible looking, one-dimensional hitter incapable of being the best player on his team. At worst, he was a defensive liability, an awful base runner and a free-swinger prone to striking out against superior pitchers. Completely unable to deliver an extra-base hit that was not a home run, McGwire was, at best Dave Kingman with a better attitude and special sauce, thus making him more of an asset at the box office than on the field.
Meanwhile, his head was visibly larger, making his eyes appear to sink into his skull. His legs were reminiscent of an offensive linemanÂs and made his pants look as if they would rip open if sat down. His arms rivaled those of many body-builders and allegedly his nuts were shrinking because they began to stop producing testosterone. He was openly compared to Paul Bunyun instead of a female East German swimmer and he was affectionately called ÂBig RedÂ by slobbering sports writers who openly lusted for his withered loins. However, looking back, everyone in a position of responsibility says, ÂSteroids? Who knew? ”
In 1998, fans, the sporting press and opposing players alike openly
fawned over him during batting practice. He rocketed moon shots into upper decks and outfield parking lots with regularity and when the ball met his bat, bystanders let loose with pornographic moans while those who covered him spewed symbolic ejaculations from their pens.
Later, after a bottle of Androstenedione (a well known substance used by Âroid freaks during recovery periods after workouts) was seen in his locker by a sportswriter the press went to his defense en-masse explaining away its presence as a red herring and noting that there was absolutely no proof that McGwire was using steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. The story was too important to spoil.
With fannies in the seats and the Roger Maris chase on with Sammy Sosa as McGwireÂs shucking and jiving sidekick, we had two sideshow freaks that lit up the midwestern summer sky and inspired every baseball reporter in America to write middle-school-quality love letters. No one ever made reference to either manÂs enormous physique except to fawn over the two hitters like eager bottoms at an orgy.
Sports Illustrated, one of the last bastions of quality sports journalism left in the US, swooned, featuring McGwire on its cover no less than nine times that summer and naming him Sportsman of the Year along with Sammy Sosa. Writer Richard Hoffer extolled the virtues of the home run as uniquely American while Tom Verducci called McGwire baseballÂs Âhead of stateÂ and Âthe rightful heir to one of the sportÂs greatest crownsÂ and praised Âhis humility and respect for the game.Â However, the high-water mark of drool on McGwireÂs cock came courtesy of Mike Lupica who wrote a best seller, The Summer of Â98, in which he called McGwire Âthe right-handed Babe RuthÂ and essentially argued that McGwire saved baseball and brought America home.
By the time he retired after the 2001 season, McGwireÂs body was battered and broken. There were no more surgeries to fix his problems and no amount of magic potions and chemical concoctions could bring back the speed and power of his swing. His muscles had worn out his ligaments and his famously balky back betrayed him every time he swung a bat.
When he departed from the game the countdown to McGwireÂs induction
into Cooperstown began. In the eyes of everyone, only two numbers and one memory mattered, 70 and 583 (his single season home run-high and his career home run total) and his nationally televised love-in with the Maris family in St. Louis when he broke RogerÂs record.
However, within four years, it was all gone. Shortly after Barry Bonds broke McGwireÂs record in 2001, the drumbeat began to persecute any ballplayer who used steroids. With BondsÂ surly personality and publicly reprehensible behavior, the press began to start questioning Bonds after an FBI agent in the bay area made it his personal mission to bring charges against Bonds simply because he did not like him as a person and a ballplayer. The criticism only began to reach McGwire when the hand of the media was forced by charges of racial favoritism.
Take this to the bank; if Bonds had not broken McGwireÂs record, everything would still be stuffed awkwardly under the carpet.
By 2005, Jose Canseco had released his now famous book, Juiced, and implicated an enormous number of superstars that included McGwire and the patron saint of the flaccid member, Rafael Palmeiro, who was approaching the hallowed 500-home run mark himself.
LaRussa jumped to McGwireÂs defense. In a 2005 interview with 60 Minutes LaRussa exemplified the pinnacle of denial in regards to McGwireÂs alleged steroid use. ÂItÂs fabrication,Â said LaRussa. ÂThe product of our good play and strength of our players Â Mark was a great example Â what we saw was a lot of hard work. And hard work will produce strength gains and size gainsÂ then went on to call Canseco a bald-faced liar.
Right Tony, McGwire and CansecoÂs size gains were only coincidental. While Canseco was on an aggressive 12-week cycle of testosterone, Trenbolone Acetate, Masteron, Anavar and Arimidex or HGH, Winstrol, Deca-Durabolin and Clomid, McGwire was eating spinach and drinking protein shakes.
In reaction to CansecoÂs book and the public outcry on the sports pages, a callow and corrupt Congress turned its focus to bringing the hammer down on baseball, and specifically the playerÂs union, by calling McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa, Canseco, union head Don Fehr, and Bush apologizer and self-proven mouth-breather, Curt Schilling on the carpet to answer for the sins of baseball.
After testimony given by the grieving parents of teenage ballplayers who committed suicide during one of the violent mood swings steroids have been known to cause, McGwire appeared. Shaken and about 40 lbs. lighter than his playing weight, he was asked by Congress about his own steroid use With no guarantee of immunity from federal prosecution, McGwire did what any thinking person would do; he avoided the question and famously said, ÂI am not here to talk about the pastÂ and then explicitly said that Canseco was not to be trusted simply because he had a criminal record.
Almost immediately afterwards, AmericaÂs most esteemed baseball writers began to turn their backs on McGwire and write editorials about how much he disappointed them. Mike Lupica, who helped anoint McGwire the gameÂs savior, went to so far as to say that if he knew then what he knew now, he would have gone after McGwire the same way others have gone after Bonds. He has even gone so far as to say he will not vote for McGwireÂs induction into the Hall.
Bullshit. Lupica and the rest of them chose to ignore what a lot of
people saw, a steroid fueled mongoloid belting easy cheese over short porches in left field. Or did they think it was normal for
players to peak dramatically in their mid and late-thirties as they
suddenly require larger helmets?
Baseball never had any rules against the use of steroids and frankly, no one gave a shit until Jose Canseco, one of the most reviled players to ever wear a uniform, spoke out because he felt he had been blackballed and prevented from going for 500 home runs himself.
The clucking of tongues has been incessant ever since. For heaping
praise on a Âcheater,Â most of the baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes are saying that they will not vote for McGwire and backing it up with florid diatribes against cheating and misguiding the nationÂs youth.
One of the more disgusting examples comes courtesy of San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killon who wrote, ÂAll I can do is cast my own vote judiciously and be able to look my kids in the eyes when I do it.Â in a blatant attempt to absolve herself of having rooted for McGwire in the first place.
ItÂs all horseshit and they all know it. If Congress had not threatened to take away its anti-trust exemptions and threatened to break the playerÂs union, baseball never would have lifted a finger to change its steroid policy. And the real start of this whole escapade was not Canseco, but BondsÂ having the nerve to pass Big Red only three years after he set the record.
This whole farce has nothing to do with protecting the integrity of the game, restoring the publicÂs faith in baseball or re-establishing the gameÂs holy covenant with wide-eyed children who adore the gameÂs stars. ItÂs about covering the gameÂs ass so no one ever has to accept a simple reality in public: For players, owners and writers alike, baseball is a business, not a game.