This week’s sketch is of former baseball player Mark McGwire, who this week tearfully gave away the worst kept secret in sports… that he used steroids when playing professional baseball. What a shock!
While I applaud McGwire somewhat for coming clean (so to speak) and admitting to his using illegal drugs while breaking some of baseball’s most hallowed records, it’s laughable that he also claims that the steroids had nothing to do with his accomplishments as a player. He said in an interview that he believes he’d still have hit 70 home runs in 1998, and ended up with 583 career homers.
I’ve heard the arguments from steroid user apologists that using steroids do not improve hand eye coordination, increase reaction time or make you a better baseball “brain”, and that those things have more to do with great hitting and playing than just being strong. That may be true, but steroids will increase your strength in your swing AND the speed of your bat. They will allow your body to recover from injury and exertions keeping you playing at peak level longer and much more consistently. They will prolong a career that naturally would have begun to fade as the player’s physical skills become blunted by age. “Big Mac” had several very good years as a younger player, hitting between 20 and 40 home runs a year with a high of 49 in his rookie year of 1987. In 1993 and 1994 he was injured a lot and only hit 9 homers both those years playing in only a handful of games. 1n 1995 he returned to relative health at 31 and hit his usual average number of homers (39). Then in 1996, at age 32 he suddenly jumps to 52 homers, and hits 58, 70 and 65 in the next three seasons at the age of 33 to 35… an age where most player’s skills have begun to decline noticably. He admits to having used steroids and human growth hormone all duing this time, and for much of his career.
Yep, Big Mac… steroids had nothing to do with it.
Without steroids no way does McGwire have those kinds of numbers during that 4 year span. Likely his home run numbers overall are deflated throughout his career. No way does he hit over 500 homer runs lifetime. Without the 500 career homers or the tainted home run record (broken in 2002 by another ‘roided up cheater named Barry Bonds) McGwire isn’t even in the conversation for the Hall of Fame. I think McGwire realized that he needed to make the admission so that he could a.) start working as the St. Louis Cardinal’s batting coach without the constant questions about this infamous testimony in 2005 and b.) to have a few years for the baseball writers to soften up and forgive him so he gets into the Hall of Fame.
I think it’s fine that McGwire gets a job as hitting coach for the Cardinals. He’s right in that steroids themselves don’t make you a great hitter and he’ll have some great advice for young players (as long as that advice doesn’t include “start injecting yourself with ‘roids”). I also think that the only way Mark McGwire should get into the Hall of Fame is by buying a ticket at the front door like everybody else.
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746 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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