What would pre-season baseball be without at least, one more steroid admittance interview? Whoa... I almost thought we'd make it a whole winter without another awkward apology from a man who simply followed the cultural norm. Here we are again, pointing fingers, screaming cheater at the top of our self-righteous lungs. "How can we ever go on"?
McGwire is just the latest scapegoat in a long line of predecessors, and gasp, he won’t be the last. In his hour long interview with the imitable Bob Costas, McGwire displayed an acting performance worthy of an Oscar. His 75 apologies broke A-Rod’s record last February (I don’t know for sure). One thing is clear, something caused McGwire to finally fess up after all these years of denial and avoidance. Maybe it was his new job as the St Louis Cardinals hitting coach. Maybe he wanted to head back to St. Louis and greet all those fans with a clear conscience. Or maybe he just felt it was good journalistic fodder for the increasingly boring off-season Baseball news. I doubt. Either way, there it is, what we all knew all along.
There is always something refreshing when hearing a pro-athlete admit they’re human. We as fans all grow so fondly of looking at them as giants, superhero’s, icons, or lately it would seem, as villains. I, on the other hand, am constantly confused as to what these “cheaters” have done wrong (Insert Record scratch here). What did Manny, Ortiz, A-Rod, Giambi, Sosa and now McGwire do wrong? I know the list goes on, but you get my point. Who’s morning coffee exactly, did they piss in? How did they alienate fans? How are their records tainted? I can understand not wanting to give Barry Bonds credit for his records because he’s a classless jerk, unlike Hank Aaron. The point still remains though, he broke their records whether I like it or not. So he used HGH. He also drank caffeine, alcohol, he ate fatty foods and I bet he cussed and engaged in sexual intercourse too. Not to mention he worked out, drank water and played over 162 games of Baseball every freaking year all the while listening to coaches, peers and fans alike criticize him for not living up to his potential. We all know those fans. Cheer for them on a good day, boo them on a bad day; betray them completely during a bad year. I grew up in New York going to Yankees, Mets and Red Sox games so I’m used to seeing that kind of tyrannical reaction.
I feel sorry for Mark McGwire and A-Rod, Ortiz and Giambi. You might be clamoring to kill me right now, but I do. Sure they make a ton of money and probably don’t feel sorry that they took steroids because it was acceptable at the time. Yet here we are attaching their names with cheater and fraud. I would think a rational person would dislike them more because athletes don’t care that there are children dying of starvation in Africa. Then again, most Americans don’t care so why hate someone else who doesn’t because they’re an athlete. I feel sorry for them because they’re at the butt-end of some sick new form of “American sports justice” system. They were created by us and their names were tarnished by us. There was a culture of steroids throughout the 80’s and 90’s and even the early 00’s throughout all of World professional sports, not just in the U.S. And if you don’t believe me ask any body builder or Olympic Athlete active in sports during those times. Fans paid big bucks to go see their favorite athlete sac a Quarter Back, Hit a Home Run, Sprint the 100 meter and lift 400 lbs. And when the fan didn’t get what they paid for, they complained. They stopped coming, stopped buying the athletes merchandise, stopped spreading maniacal expectations of their favorite athlete. You don’t think that kind of fan’s attitude gets back to players? You don’t think owners placed pressure on trainers and the athlete to do better or suffer the consequences? How many of you have ever lied to get yourself out of a sticky situation? How many of you have screwed over a co-worker to get a raise or promotion? How many of you have been an athlete and know the crushing disappointment you feel when you let down your fans, your mom and dad or your coach?
The excuse is always the same. “They are athletes so they should be held to a higher standard”. That might be what we want, but if you believe that than you’re living in a fantasy, because the fact of the matter is, they are professional athletes with more at stake than you or me. Their worries are not as mundane as ours, like whether or not they can pay the mortgage on some crappy home, have sex with a wife who won’t touch them after 10 years or where to find that perfect skill saw; Home Depot or Lowes? Sure those are valid concerns we all have. But to these athletes they mean less than becoming a nobody. You know why? Because we put that pressure on them! We do, the cheering and booing, the devotion and betrayal, the ESPN Baseball tonight knee jerking and arm chair Quarter-backing. That pressure exists whether we like it or not, and athletes do everything in their power to lift that pressure. Would you not? If you think that you wouldn’t than your pretentious couch surfing has got the better of your honesty. It’s nothing new, pitchers and position players alike abused mescaline, PCP, speed, cocaine and even heroin throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to alleviate the lengthy Baseball schedules, lighten the stress or GASP…just enjoy the drug.
The United States is the only country that has definitive laws in the books that ban illegal substances from sports. The Olympics only began testing athletes when the American Government via George H.W. Bush placed steroids on the illegal substance list to garner public support for his outrageous drug policies. The culture of drugs is so engrained in American society that we refuse to even see how drug addicted we are in our daily lives. Pfizer is one of the largest companies in the World and they make 90% of their money by selling anti-psychotic drugs to commercially indifferent Americans. Yet we expect Baseball players to follow a different standard to maintain the integrity of a game that we as consumers have complete control over. We put the HGH in their hands long ago, and now we’re ripping it out and calling in the wolves. Who said McCarthyism is dead.
Look, I love the game of Baseball, always have, always will. I will not allow hypocrisy and American media ignorance tarnish the game. I see it happening in front of my eyes. Millions of Americans screaming cheater and pointing their disfigured fingers. They need to do that, but do it in front of a mirror next time.
Mark McGwire, I still remember the summer of 98’ and you made it one of the best summers of my life. Thank You.