Sketch o’the Week

January 13th, 2010 | Posted in Sketch O'The Week

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.


  1. John McCarthy says:

    Well-said, Tom.
    Plainly put, logically stated, with no hint of anger or antagonism. I couldn’t agree more.
    When I first heard about this, I thought along similar lines: okay for the coaching job, just not for the Hall of Fame. But I was thinking purely of him breaking the rules. You don’t reward someone for not obeying the same laws as everyone else. The way you’ve laid it out, there’s no way he could have earned that spot in the first place WITHOUT the steroids.

    BTW: I loved you with Tom on Tall Tale Radio. (I’m a huge Batman fan, myself.) And I always enjoy seeing your column in John Read’s STAY TOONED!


  2. Mugshotz says:

    The only reason I’d say he should have a legitimate reason for getting into the Hall of Fame, was during the race between him and Sosa, no one person from MLB ever stood up and said “This is ridiculous!! No way two guys could all of a sudden both be breaking a 30+ year record in one season, and they are both build like NFL Defensive Ends” So now they writers (who never said anything at the time) and the other Hall of Fame voters are now all of a sudden turning up their noses at him. Sosa and McGwire both saved baseball in the 90’s for better or worse. They made it a household talking point after the nasty fall out of the strike in the mid 90’s. I’m not saying they did it right way, but the facts remain they “juiced it” back into the mainstream.

    It’s a shame, because I think he had the talent, as well as Bonds to really be great players without the drugs. They both may not have shattered records, but may well have made it into the Hall of Fame had they played it straight.

    • Tom says:

      Nope, I don’t buy that. Maybe everyone did know he was cheating at the time (although I followed it and I didn’t think it went past the Andro use), but that doesn’t change the fact that his Hall of Fame credentials were gained using illegal steroids. He was a pretty good fielding first baseman, having won a couple of Gold Gloves (although those often go to big bats at that position anyway) but not a Hall of Fame defensive caliber player. His HOF credentials are all about his bat, and his numbers were inflated by his steroid use. I believe that without the steroids McGwire would have been a good player but nowhere near a Hall of Famer.

  3. I met him at a Costco of all places This was right after the 88 series I had the audacity to say it was a great series, he didn’t agree. It was great for Dodgers and Dodger fans. He still gave me his autograph. FWIW
    For such a big guy he sure is a cry baby. Great sketch!

  4. Mmmbacon says:

    Preach it Tom!!! I can’t believe how many people are saying that it’s courageous to come out and finally admit it. What a bunch of crap. Bottom line is he’s ONLY admitting this now because it would be such a distraction to the Cards when pitchers and catchers report. If he wasn’t so MONUMENTALLY PRIVILEGED to get back into baseball, and was still holed up in seclusion, he would still be spewing the same ol denials. Nothin like convenient truths. And to have the balls to finally admit it and believe that we’re stupid enough to buy the “it didn’t help my performance” takes completely away from the “admission”. But MOST of all the maddening part is that his name will be above Roger Maris. And THATS a tragedy.

    Great post Tom!

  5. Joe Groshek says:

    Great drawing, Tom!
    I agree with your remarks about McGuire….no way should he be in the HOF, neither should Bonds…..I think most people still regard Hank Aaron as the record holder for the most home runs…..I maybe biased about it because I’m from Milwaukee (ie: Braves and Brewers) which Hammerin’ Hank played for both teams, and he did this without the use of Steroids. Long live Hank!

  6. Lash LeRoux says:

    Great blog, Tom. I agree with most everything you said, with one caveat. Having had a 10 year career as a professional wrestler with the WWF, WWE and WCW, I feel this is one issue I have some inside expertise on. I question the sincerity of his apology on the grounds that it’s easy to come out and admit steroid use after you have retired. Knowing, as I do personally, just how rampant steroid use is in ALL professional sports, I find it very difficult to believe that he would not relive it all again and make the same decisions if he had it to do over. He knows how much steroids played a part in his success. And he knows that for a professional athlete, with a multi million dollar contract on the line, the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to steroid use. That’s not a politically correct or popular thing to say, but it is the absolute truth and a reality in all professional sports.

    As for his H.O.F. merit, I really don’t feel that strongly about it one way or the other. Although, in all fairness to McGuire, I think there is one issue that everyone has overlooked. I have no doubt in my mind that a lot of the pitchers that McGuire faced during his record braking season are guilty as well of using steroids at one point or another in their career. For him to have broken the home run record he would have had to have success against these pitchers as well. That, in many ways, evens the playing field regarding any “unfair advantage” he may have had. In other words, I agree that the true home run “legends” never used steroids; however they also never faced a pitcher who had taken steroids.

    • Tom says:

      Great points, Lash. I’d never considered the other side of the equation before i.e. pitchers also taking juice. Thanks for the comment.


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

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: