(THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2007. FOR THE LATEST ON MARK MCGWIRE’S ADMISSION ON STEROID USE (1/12/10) PLEASE CLICK HERE:
I will be the first to admit, I don’t know that much about baseball.
I’ve been to a number of games and yes, there’s an excitement in watching the pros do it bigger and badder than anyone else, but I have to tell you, I think this steroid controversy is killing America’s past time.
I’ve called Houston home for the past 18 years. I like it here and I’ve come to adopt it’s professional sports teams. I cheer for the Rockets, the Comets (when I’m in the mood to sit in a crowd of women wearing Aramis), The Texans, The Aeros, The Dynamo and yes, the Astros, too. By virtue of my involvement in Houston media, I’ve known several Astros players. Not biblically but catcher Brad Ausmus came into the station for a live interview once a week…I know Joe Lima and have been social with him and of course, Andy Petite and the legendary Rocket himself, Roger Clemens.
When I found out that both Pettite and Clemens had allegedly “juiced”, well it just pissed me off. My image of them and their accomplishments are now tarnished. I now look at their muscular butts that used to instill in me, more than a few dirty thoughts, as nothing more than pin cushions for steroid filled hypodermic needles.
Why? What happened in baseball? How did this happen? Abner Doubleday is rolling over in his grave. Are we talking about performance enhancing drugs just to stay competitive in the dog eat dog world of Major League Baseball?
What happened to the days when fat, out of shape, endomorphs stuffed themselves into uncomfortable uniforms and let gin and sweat and cattin’ around with dames fuel them to hitting the most homers in a single season????
Some 30-plus years later, Roger Maris added shyness and sincerity to the mix and he was able to break Babe Ruth’s record.
See that number? It was fitting that in 1961, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs that season and in doing so, he beat Babe Ruth’s previous record. This was was an accomplishment that remained unequaled for 37 years.
Enter the Mark McGwire years.
He was big, brawny, cocky and bound and determined to beat Roger Maris’ record.
And on September 8th, 1998, he did just that.
That evening, McGwire hit a pitch by the Chicago Cubs’ Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, setting off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium. Memorably, the ball was freely given to him in a ceremony on the field by the stadium worker who found it.
A few years later, Mark McGwire’s record was then bested by Barry “I’ve Got A Rap Sheet That Reads Like A Scroll” Bonds, who has also been accused of steroid abuse and was recently indicted for perjury in his Grand Jury testimony about his use of anabolic steroids and their pervasive nature throughout Major League baseball.
Mark McGwire has never been formally charged with steroid use, but come on…we’re not THAT stupid.
I mean, take a look at Mark at the height of his career in 1998.
I mean, look at those canned hams he had for forearms and thighs!!! And look at the expression on his face? All that anger? Lyle Alzado-esque ‘ROID RAGE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!
Steroids ravage the body. Because of some serious nasal injuries after a nasty car accident several years ago, I was on a steady regimen of Prednisone. That’s a corticosteroid, but a steroid nonetheless. I couldn’t run faster or hit baseballs into the stratosphere, but it changed me metabolically. My face swelled and I felt a little angry, definitely mannish. I had this urge to lift a city bus with one hand, while stuffing haggis in my mouth with the other.
So yeah, these steroids are some serious shit. Think what the anabolic ones must do? Take a look at McGwire’s face in 1998.
Young…full of life, right. Chomping at the bit to rip a phone book in half or tackle a gazelle loping at full speed and eat it right there on the savanna.
Now, take a gander at the changes in Mark’s face, a mere four years later.
Unless he’s badly lit and/or coming down off a major Sudafed bender, the cat looks like hell.
And “enhanced” things seem to be a part of McGwire’s persona.
And part of his wife, Stephanie.
In her case though, I think it’s just a matter of the average person finding it impossible NOT to “stare” at the two mammoth “roids” on her chest.
In the late summer and early fall of 1998 as Mark McGwire was chasing the home run record, there were repeated rumors of his steroid use and if he was ever found guilty of abuse, the question was asked more than once…would, could that negate his record IF he should reach it? We kept hearing about this one substance in particular.
The fire ant killer? That’s what I kept hearing. I always thought this stuff was deadly poison to humans, but apparently, it was causing them to kick ass on the baseball field.
Yep, Amdro…the fire ant killer.
Suddenly that ridiculous raised pitcher’s mound made sense.
The damn thing is a fire ant mound!!!!!!!!!!!
Turns out the stuff we’d all been hearing about was actually called Andro, short for Androstenedione, an anabolic (muscle building) “dietary aid”.
Gee..guess I misunderheard.
Seriously, all jokes aside.
What has happened in baseball is tragic.
Allow me to reiterate that by stating my appreciation for medical technology. It has allowed for tremendous advances. People are living with AIDS where as 25-years ago, they didn’t. Science has made incredible strides in cancer treatment and other maladies that before, were notorious merely by the number of victims they claimed. With that said, I applaud the invention and proper application of steroids. Medically, they’ve made all the difference in the world to many people but steroids’ use in performance enhancement?
If it’s ever officially proven that Mark McGwire was using steroids at the time he broke Roger Maris’ home run record, I think the title should be stripped. The same with Barry Bond’s when he broke McGwire’s record. It isn’t fair and this abuse trivializes the accomplishments of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris. That which served as the organic force behind their swings was manufactured in the heat of the game…it was true grit, determination and talent that were the compelling factors; not something manufactured in a lab in the Bay Area.
True, the game was different then. It is another beast today. Therefore, one must ask if it was the nature of fierce competition that compelled these men to seek their first injection? And if the initial reasoning behind shooting the juice was to be bigger, faster and stronger because breaking records ensure record breaking salaries, then what’s wrong with the game of baseball? Has it really come down to all business and no game??? Profiteering amid salary negotiating and merchandise licensing? We’ve know that the business of baseball has been out of control for years, but the recent steroid scandal seems to bring out it’s ugliness in vibrant Technicolor.
Personally, I lay the blame squarely on the freakishly enhanced shoulders of every juiced player. They are responsible for their own actions. They knew they weren’t getting B-12 injections.
But if we take a good long look at this situation, we must also ask this: do they share some of the blame?
Is society at fault? Have we–the baseball fan base–raised the brass ring to dizzying, almost unreachable heights? Have steroids become the only way to garner the strength to grab this proverbial brass ring? We, the fans, have an insatiable need for bigger, faster, meaner, higher.
If so, what does that say to the players? Have we helped make them feel that their best was no longer good enough? Even with minimal contracts to “non marquis players” that are worth a ridiculous 21-million dollars over three years?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then maybe the title of this post is wrong.
Perhaps, I should have called it “How America Failed Baseball”.