Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It came as a major surprise to most people on Monday when a press release and short interview by one Mister Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids during his time as a major league baseball player. For most of the free world the fact that he had used them wasn’t much of a surprise since he seemed to constantly look like he shopped at the “Strangely Big And Misshapen Muscles” store but it did seem like a stretch that he would ever admit to it. Chalk it up to his miniscule vote totals for the Hall of Fame or the lack of respect his home run record has gotten since he did it but something brought out the need to come clean about the whole thing.

All was going okay and even those that were feeling jaded about all of his accomplishments were starting to feel a little bit of compassion for the man but then came a live interview shown later on in the day. McGwire showed up on the MLB Network being interviewed by Bob Costas and it seemed to be a no hold bared kind of thing at first. Costas was asking many of the questions that many of us wondered about and it was all going okay up to a point. Once it reached that point, all the wheels seemed to come off and all the benefits the interview might have had were lost in the backwash of self salvation on the part of Mr. McGwire.

And what was this point that throttled the life out of the interview? For me it was when McGwire stated that the steroids that he was taking did not help his performance in any way and they did not help home runs that he hit after he started taking the drugs. It took me a moment to think about this and then I just had to call him on how stupid this made him sound. I’d like to believe him that he might just be confused but then you just need to remember the whole speech about not wanting to talk about the past when he was in front of the Congressional committee and that benefit was used up a long time ago.

This is an argument that has been floated a couple times in the past but it never held any kind of water for me. They try to say that there was no benefit from the steroids when it came to their actual on the field time. They will constantly say that all of their records and playing history should count the same even after the admission because the talent was, in lack of a better way to put it, God given or genetics or whatever. Andy Petite said the same thing when he was caught taking them too and it sounded just as wrong then as it does now.

This attempted explanation fails on so many counts that it’s hard to choose which one to start off with. You can say that it didn’t give you a competitive advantage but it is also very easy to understand the simple fact that the player wouldn’t even be able to compete without taking those steroids. The players of the past never had substances like this to help them recover from injuries or just from the rigors of keeping themselves in shape over the course of their careers. You can say that the steroids didn’t give you the original ability that might have gotten you into the major leagues all you want but those steroids that you took definitely helped you to stay there for a lot longer than you might have if you had done it naturally.

When it comes down to the whole steroid debate, much of the pro steroids side of the argument make me feel like when I hear about another kind of similar discussion, namely the anti gun control viewpoint. The main thing that people that are against strong gun control laws will always pull out the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” but they don’t seem to understand how wrong that is to say. It might be true that a gun doesn’t kill someone outright but it definitely does make it a lot easier for someone to actually kill as many people as they can. The people that use the phrase think it makes it some kind of circular idea that trumps everything else but it in fact negates itself since the event that comes from the two subjects wouldn’t be possible without each other.

The very same idea can be placed right across the steroid argument without any real difficulty. You can talk all you want about how your natural abilities trumps anything else but that still leaves us wondering why you would need to take them if they didn’t help you in the first place. If it all comes down to it, any try to make the statement that personal ability trumps any benefits from steroids just won’t hold water because those steroids can help the person to use those abilities. It is just that simple.

We all want to believe our sports heroes are the most amazing people as we think they are. You find someone to be a fan of and it can be so hard to understand that they can be just as human as all of us. They have the same worries and faults of all of us but that doesn’t excuse fact that they still used them when they were against both the rules of the sport and the laws of the country itself. You can try to talk all you want about the fact that you had to do it since you played in the Steroid Era but the time didn’t force you to take that substance into your body.


Post a Comment

<< Home