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Friday, March 25, 2005

Hypocrites and Fools

So...Mark McGwire has now been convicted of using steroids in the court of public opinion, because he exercised his fundamental legal right not to incriminate himself. The right not to incriminate onself is a enjoyed by every American, by the way, but it certainly is interesting to see a nice white guy being held to the same ridiculous "guilty until proven innocent" standards usually applied to blacks and Latinos. Even sports-talk radio hosts might want to invoke that right some day.

Not that the more childish of the sports-talk radio community understand the subtle distinctions between the presumption of innocence and the assumption of guilt, of course. It is fascinating to see all these supposedly hard-boiled radio, TV, and press members treating McGwire's steroid use as if it were proof that the Easter Bunny didn't exist, as if their very worlds would crumble if they saw Daddy laying out the chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday.

Gary Thorne covered himself in fertilizer just the other day in the middle of an otherwise sleep-inducing Braves/Mets ESPN spring training telecast, advising McGwire (yes, advising him, as if he needed more crappy legal advice) that he could fix all his problems by simply telling the world, "I did not use steroids."

I'm sure that McGwire was grateful for the free advice, but does that mean that Thorne wants McGwire to lie if he indeed did use steroids? Or does he just want more than anything for the Great White Hope to be purer than Ivory Snow when he might not be? (By the way, Thorne is a lawyer, and we know he'd never advise anyone to lie.)

It's bad enough, of course, for all of these sportswriter/broadcaster types to be waving their disappointed fingers at Big Mac, but now we have at least one old ballplayer weighing in with his utterly ridiculous and ill-informed opinions of how baseball records should be kept.

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), formerly a 224-game winner in the majors and currently a half-crazed, sclerotic, race-baiting loony, was quoted in an irresponsible George Vecsey New York Times story this week that all current home run records should be "wiped out" because some hitters might have been using steroids.

Now Bunning, as an old fart ballplayer, shouldn't necessarily be expected to know the facts of record-keeping, or to understand history. But Vecsey, writing in the most influential newspaper in the country, took a remarkably charitable viewpoint towards the old fool, and invoked the old anger card--you know, the one that says we all have a right to be angry at baseball players who don't act the way we want them to. It's one of the most ridiculous baseball stories I've read in years, and Vecsey should know better.

But back to Bunning, and his crusade to save the record books from cheaters...Hey, I'm all for that, Senator. Let's expunge the records of all players who cheated. Just to be on the safe side, let's start with pitchers who threw spitballs, like those great Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Don Sutton, and of course Gaylord Perry, who treated the rules as if they were a joke, fashioning a career around not only throwing the spitball but also delighting in making fools of umpires who tried to enforce the rules.

And, by the way, Senator, you've often been accused of throwing scuffed and wet balls yourself. Would you like to comment on that?

Didn't think so.


Anonymous Doug said...

Bunning exhibited enough oddities during his fall Senate campaign that his handlers kept him away from public appearances toward the end (kind of like the President, now that I think about it), fueling real concerns that the senator had finally fallen completely into senility. Of course, that didn't stop the good people of Kentucky from returning him to office for six years. It appears Vecsey didn't actually talk to Bunning and only quotes testimony he gave to the House, but Vecsey does use the occasion to bash baseball owners and officials who ignored newly musclebound players, apparently dazzled by all the fans who were coming back to the game. It's too bad there weren't any baseball journalists around way back then to investigate all those swirling rumors.

12:23 AM, March 26, 2005

Anonymous Amy the Plaid Sheep said...

This country is for the most part, completely off it's rocker. At least the Old White People(TM) who seem to be in charge of things these days.

What gets me about this whole steroid bruhaha is that the fans, the press, and even the casual observers were really digging the whole home run derby of a few years back between Sosa and McGuire. People were coming out to watch baseball again. The game seemed less apathetic and more inspired.

I think the REASON why baseball fell out of favor was because of a combination of players just phoning in and collecting their paychecks, AND the casual fans going off and doing "something else" because baseball is boring, etc.

The home run derby reinvigorated baseball. LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE. I don't give a rats ass who is using steroids, it's their testicles that will suffer, not mine.


Back in the old days we had ball players who were snorting cocaine, and/or drinking themselves into a stupor on a regular basis. This didn't require a congressional hearing on the matter. It was a matter of the player getting sent off to rehab and it being dealt with between the players and management.

Big Brother needs to go back to meddling in the affairs of random foreign-born citizens (/sarcasm) and leave baseball alone!

6:40 AM, March 26, 2005

Anonymous Jonathan said...

I dunno - I see the panel and media's sins as theirs and McGwire's sins as his own. I can't get out of my mind the McGwire courted Roger Maris' children. For all the grief Maris got in setting the single season record, for McGwire to cheat to steal his legacy AND use the Maris family as part of his myth-building just goes beyond the pale. I'm not for changing/asterixing records, but I see some justice in McGwire catching hell from the sportstalk beast.

It should also be noted that McGwire didn't take the 5th -- I found his "we're damned no matter what, so I won't answer if you ask" attempt at innoculization kind of arrogant under the circumstances. But it worked - the panel didn't force him to answer yes, no, or 5th.

Appropo of nuttin', when somebody asks me a question I'd rather not answer, I sometimes say I'm taking the 4th ("unreasonable search")...

8:26 AM, March 28, 2005

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever you are Jonathan, I couldn't put my take on this situation in better words than yours'! You said it I think I'll take the 4th and leave...

10:16 AM, March 31, 2005

Blogger Stuart Shea said...


As respectful as I am (always) of your well-thought-out arguments, would all of this feel different to you if you knew that Roger Maris took amphetamines? Would his "legacy" be dimmed? Would his children have any less a reason to admire Mark McGwire?

I don't find anything "just" about hypocrisy from sports-talk radio, or from baseball fans for that matter. McGwire's may have taken steroids, but his "sins" are legally unproven, whereas simple hypocrisy from government and media are very, very easy to spot.


1:02 PM, March 31, 2005

Anonymous Jonathan said...

With respect to amphetamines, if I'm brutally honest with myself I'd have to admit that I wouldn't be as bothered -- but I think that reflects more poorly on me being hypocritical than it boosts McGwire or Maris. Maybe it's because I suspect steroids create a bigger "quantum" of performance improvement, but to be honest I don't know that and of course the players wouldn't be taking them (then and now) if they didn't help. It also might be because amphetamines, as far as I know, weren't an issue during Maris' chase of the record, while steroids were for McGwire and Sosa. As far as McGwire and the Maris family, I think what took it up a level was that McGwire cloaked it in such holsomeness - the pointing at the sky and such. If he was running the basepath that day thinking "Hey dude, you did speed, I did roids, deal with it" -- I dunno, we were all being played.

As to the proof thing, I think the legal analogy is limited because my "penalties" aren't the same ones as a trial: only my fandom and respect are at stake, not prison or money or his records. And though in a civil suit your silence actually can be held against you (the jury can draw a negative inference from a failure to answer), I generally believe a person is entitled to the same protection/benefit of the doubt. But to me McGwire seemed to step beyond that -- implying his silence was a noble act a la Judith Miller in the Valerie Plame investigation. If he had just taken the 5th or words to that effect, appologized, and then made his "I'll work to keep kids from doing it" pledge I'd cut him more slack.

I freely admit to being the Church Lady on some of this stuff. And along those lines, if Frank Thomas turns out to have been playing me, hell hath no fury like a church lady scorned!

7:47 AM, April 01, 2005


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