“WASHINGTON – Retired slugger Mark McGwire Thursday told a congressional panel investigating drugs in baseball that he would not “participate in naming names” of players who used steroids.
Two current players, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, said they never used steroids. That duo and McGwire were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs by Jose Canseco in a best-selling book that helped prompt the hearing.”
I am somewhat torn by most of this. I am a fan of McGwire and unless they come out with some kind of incredible story about him will remain so. I don’t claim to be his biggest fan or the most knowledgeable about his career but there are some things that stick out.
Mainly that he tried to play with dignity. He ignored the temptation of extending his career as a designated hitter. He didn’t allow temptation of a contract offer in the tens of millions a year sway him from retiring. I don’t remember him badmouthing other players or teammates.
And most importantly I remember him making it clear that he would play for a team that allowed him to be close to and spend time with his son. Those are the qualities of a mensch. And unless I hear differently I have no reason to think otherwise of him.
I am still a bit ambivalent about steroids. Until recently they were not a banned substance so if he acquired them legally there is no gripe there. I don’t think that they helped him to hit the ball, at least not from a hand eye coordination perspective. He is around 6’5 270 pounds or so, which means that at his size he is easily big enough and strong enough to hit the ball out of the park. If he could hit the ball 440 feet without steroids and 500 with them it wouldn’t make a difference because at 440 it still would have been a homerun.
I am not against legislation banning recreational steroid use, but I really don’t expect this problem to disappear. There is so much money in it that there will always be labs and people working to beat the tests for the drugs.