The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

I don’t know what to tell you

So I wrote this little recap of some idiotic thing Jose Canseco said, and then I said "hey, listen, I’ll be back tomorrow with the worst McGwire article ever written." And then it’s four days later and I still haven’t done it. This is an unconscionable lapse of judgment on my part, and I apologise to the St. Louis Cardinals, their fans, Bud Selig, and Major League Baseball for my bad decision. Also, just for the record: Tony La Russa had no idea what happened. I only just told him this morning. I’m not sure he was listening, though, since I’m pretty sure he was busy being passed out drunk in the middle of an intersection.

Well, enough self-excoriation for now. If you want more, check out my interview with Bob Costas on the MLB Network; it airs on Thursday. Now it’s time to get to that terrible article I promised you. It’s by a big dumb dummy called Steve Wilstein, and it’s called:

Ban McGwire From Baseball

That’s how you know it’s working!

Mark McGwire deserves a ban from baseball more than any sympathy.

It is sad to hear his quavery confession of a career filled with steroids, his sorrow over the pain it caused his family and fans, his revelation of a life of lies that burned inside him like a hidden disease and consumed the game he loved.

"A life of lies that burned inside him like a hidden disease?" That’s awful. Awful writing. That would get rejected by most high-school English teachers, though, apparently, not by CNN. Turgid, flowery, and stupid. Oh, and did Mark McGwire’s life really "consume" the game of baseball? Because it sure seems to me like baseball’s still going on.

But for those of us who also love baseball, the damage he did was too deep and his further threat to the integrity of the game is too great to justify his return.

I’d really like to spend more time making fun of what this dude’s saying and less time making fun of his writing, but, come on. That’s some bad writing. Also, hey, a few things to consider:

1) What "damage" did Mark McGwire do? You haven’t told us yet.
2) In what way does McGwire continue to threaten the "integrity" of the game? Are you worried he’s going to take a bunch of coaching steroids and gain an advantage over clean coaches that way? Maybe he got a shipment of Human Coaching Hormone that I haven’t heard about.

McGwire’s entire playing career is indelibly stained and his judgment is not to be trusted. What else are we to make of a man who cheated and didn’t come clean for 20 years?

1994-2010 != 20 years. Just a heads-up, Count von Count.

Also, here’s another thing we could make of him: we could make him a man who made a mistake and faced massive legal repercussions if he "came clean" any sooner than he did. Like he said.

Can he be trusted to coach other players who may be using steroids? Is he fit for any job that is also a test of character and personal standards?

As a hitting coach, actually, mainly his job is to teach other baseball mans how to hit baseballs, an activity at which he was spectacular. He hit 49 home runs as a gangly little rookie who was not taking steroids at all. That sounds like the kind of guy I think is "fit" for the job of telling other dudes how to hit baseballs, yeah.

Baseball should bar him from coaching and never again allow his name on a Hall of Fame ballot.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out that the rules of baseball don’t make any allowance for such a weird overreaction. Mark McGwire’s playing career was over before baseball established meaningful penalties for steroid use; say what you will about steroid use in baseball, but I have absolutely no respect for anybody who insists that making rules and then retroactively enforcing them is any way to run a railroad. So, regardless of what mysterious "danger" you’re assuming McGwire poses to the average baseball player in 2010, you’re a shithead if you think baseball should ban him just because he offended your personal standards.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, McGwire’s longtime apologist, is leading the charge to rehabilitate him in his new role as the Cardinals’ batting coach, saying Monday’s admission and expression of regret is worthy of respect.


This from a manager who either closed his eyes to drug use on his teams, didn’t know what he should have known, or kept conspiratorially silent about it through all the years with McGwire on the Oakland Athletics (along with Jose Canseco) and on the Cards.

Yeah, fuck you, Tony La Russa. Why didn’t you know? You should have known. Never mind that nobody else knew either — Captain Hindsight has declared that it was obvious and knowable. Or, wait, could it be… the conspiracy!!!!!

So, too, with commissioner Bud Selig and the Cardinals’ general manager and the players who would like to see the whole cancer of steroids in baseball vanish in a wash of tears and belated contrition.

Yeah, fuck you Bud Selig and Cardinals general manager whose name Steve doesn’t know and can’t be bothered to look up because he’s not very good at his job (his name is John Mozeliak, for those who care; this took me about three seconds to look up on the Google). Also, horry kow is that last sentence awful. I would like to see the cancer of that sentence vanish in a wash of Wite-Out and belated editing.

Not so fast.

Look out! Steverino has just pulled out the world-famous sportswriting cliché of the three-word paragraph! This is how you can tell he’s getting to the meat of his argument.

A mea culpa doesn’t undo the enormous harm that McGwire and his pumped-up colleagues inflicted on baseball — worse than all the gambling that has kept Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame and from returning to the game.

For those keeping score at home, here’s the breakdown on what Steve is talking about.

Enormous harm inflicted by Mark McGwire: used steroids, for which there was no substantive punishment, in an attempt to be better at baseball and make his team better at baseball.

Enormous harm inflicted by Pete Rose: gambled on games he was participating in as a player or manager, thereby creating a severe conflict of interest, and possibly leading him to harm his team for his own personal gain. The punishment for this action is (and was at the time) posted on the wall in every locker room in MLB, and it is: permanent ban.

According to Steve-logic, McGwire’s punishment should be more severe than Rose’s, even though his actions had no alleged or demonstrated negative effect on his team, and even though this punishment would have to be applied after the fact, since it wasn’t established at the time McGwire actually did the steroids. Steve, you are not only a bad writer, you’re also bad at thinking. I’m pretty sure CNN agrees with me, too, because check out this in-line ad that they inserted into the article right here: Time to forgive McGwire

That’s a big old fuck-you to Steve from CNN.

McGwire chose the wrong path years ago and stayed on it — making the mistake of all public figures who try to stonewall their way out of trouble, from Richard Nixon to Tiger Woods. In the end, everybody knows and many will forgive, but the guilty have to live with the consequences of their transgressions.

And that… has occurred, yes? Yes. Okay. Excellent job of pointing out what’s already happened, Mr. Prophetic.

When I saw the then-legal steroid androstenedione in his locker and reported it during his glorious, now-bittersweet, 70-homer summer of ’98, his first instinct was to deny it. Pressed, he admitted using it for more than a year and defended it. He lied about juicing up on more potent steroids and human growth hormone.

Is it common practice for athletes who are doing something illegal to admit it to reporters? Because, hey, I bet Prince Fielder would have denied cheating on his taxes if you asked him on the record too, chief. Also, McGwire talked about using andro on Letterman. Because it was legal.

Now he wants to put behind him the past he famously refused to talk about with Congress when he was called to testify in 2005.

This is something Mark McGwire and I have in common: we’re both sick of self-righteous asshole sportswriters writing this exact same article.

He says it was hard to tell the truth to his family, but it’s difficult to believe even that.

What? Fuck you, man. What a worthless, dick-ass thing to say.

Didn’t those close to him suspect what everyone else did as they watched him balloon into a freakish hulk during his career?

Well, Steve, apparently you live in a giant your-head-shaped castle built out of pure ego and self-worship, but, for most people, that would actually make the whole situation harder to deal with, not easier. Here, try this little thought experiment. Assume for the moment that your family — that those "close to you," anyhow — suspect of you the same thing that everybody else does: that you suck at writing. What do you expect to happen? Do you think they’ll sell you out to some muckraking hack, or that they’ll stand by you? And will this make things more awkward or less awkward when you finally have to face up to what a terrible writer you are?

For two decades — from the time McGwire now says he started using performance-enhancers, through his retirement in 2001 and self-imposed exile — he cheated, covered up and remained ignobly quiet while others were exposed, prosecuted and punished.

So, wait, what was he supposed to do? Seriously. Is there something you expect Mark McGwire should have said or done about Manny and Barry and Rocket getting in trouble? What a stupid accusation.

He put the "code of the clubhouse" above the truth in not speaking out about his and others’ drug use years ago, at a time when he might have stopped a generation of young athletes from emulating his physique or gaining his advantages.

Notorious subhuman asshole Jose Canseco wrote a probably-not-very-true exposé in which he calls out a lot of other players for using steroids. Should McGwire have done the same, then? That would be good? You’re a big supporter of the idea that people who’ve done something alleged to be wrong should sell out as many friends and associates as possible? There’s somebody I think you should meet.

He put legal consequences ahead of baseball’s reputation when he dodged questions from congressmen because he wasn’t granted immunity.

Oh, because you fucking wouldn’t. In one corner: serious legal repercussions for yourself, your entire family, many of your close friends, your co-workers, your team, your coaches, your manager, and your trainers. In the other corner: baseball’s reputation, maybe. You are full of multiple, heretofore undiscovered varieties of shit if you’re claiming you’d do anything different.

Could he be trusted to do the right thing if he comes across another player on drugs? He’s a compromised man.

The "right thing," according to Steve: write a book about what a shithead that other player is for using drugs, and make sure that dude gets the fuck punished out of him. So, no, I don’t think Mark McGwire would do that. For all rational people, this is a point in his favour.

He still hasn’t detailed all the drugs he used and where he got them, though his much-scorned former Bash Brother, Canseco, seems to have been the bearer of a fair amount of truth all along, no matter how self-serving or uncomfortable his revelations were to baseball.

Canseco was full of shit. Is still full of shit. Is, in fact, scientifically proven to be entirely made of shit. Here’s a thought experiment for you: Canseco took a bunch of steroids, and could see other players exhibiting the same physical changes he did, and thereby concluded that they were on the juice, too. Then, when he needed money, he wrote a ridiculous fantasy book about the awesome roid parties they all used to have. Then it turns out that exactly one thing about it wasn’t a lie — the names of the players — and every idiot sportswriter in the world trips over himself claiming that Canseco was "the only honest man in baseball." Does that seem plausible?

Now get this. Steve wraps the article up with these three paragraphs:

Anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs won’t give a player the kind of hand-eye coordination, the skills, the quick, sweet swing that McGwire had that enabled him to launch so many balls so far. And he wouldn’t have gotten so big, even with hundreds of injections, if he hadn’t pumped iron day after day.

Sure, he put in the work in the gym, and, sure, he put in the hours at batting practice. But the drugs are what helped him put in those hours, enabled him to recover more quickly from workout to workout, to maintain a higher level of lean musculature and energy than those who played it straight. They were his shortcut to greatness at the plate.

If McGwire’s admissions can serve any good now, it would be to prompt other steroid users to come clean. Confession is not only good for the soul, it would be very good for the game to get it all out now, once and for all.

Fuck the heck? Steve, did you read the rest of your article before you wrote this? You’ve spent like a thousand words ripping on Mark McGwire for every breath he’s ever taken, and then all of a sudden you’re captain sympathetic? And after alleging for so long that McGwire’s confession is meaningless and useless and not good enough for you, you come out and say that everybody else should do it too? You’re a very weird man, Steve. And, just a hint: if you want other steroid users to confess also, you should try being less of a shithead to the ones who do.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steve Wilstein.

God, I hope so.

January 17th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

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