McGwire 2: Apology As Rationalization

The question from Bob Costas, paraphrased: Could you have had those homer-to-at bats ratios, and could you have hit 70 homers in 1998, without steroids:

“I truly believe so. I was given this gift by the man upstairs.”
Which gift was this, Mark? The gift of steroids?
Mark McGwire, who in his statement this afternoon seemed to understand something at least of the damage he had done to the game, has undone this tonight in the Costas interview on MLB Network. 
He insisted he used steroids only to restore his health after his physical trials of the early ’90s: “My track record as far as hitting home runs, the first at bat I had in Little League was a home run. They still talk about the home runs I hit in high school, they still talk about the home runs I hit in Legion – I led the nation in home runs – they still talk about the home runs I hit in the minors. I was given the gift to hit home runs.”
“All I’ve wanted to do was come clean. I’ve been wanting to come clean since 2005.”
Then do so. Saying you used steroids, but denying the steroids had anything to do with your ability to hit more and longer homers – and to not even connect the idea that even if it was merely for purposes of restoring physical health, that still means the steroids contributed to your ability to hit these homers – does not constitute an apology, an acknowledgment, or the truth.

THREE UPDATES (8:15 EST): Why did McGwire repeatedly insist he’d been looking for the opportunity to come clean since 2005? Why not earlier? 
Secondly, is the connection not clear in McGwire’s mind? That steroids permit the user to work out more frequently, to rebound more quickly from the wear and tear of exercise and weight-lifting? That as dedicated to the hard work in the weight room as one might be, it is the steroids that physically enable the user to increase the frequency of that hard work?
Thirdly, props to the MLB Network group: Matt Vasgersian, Tom Verducci, Ken Rosenthal, and my friends Joe Magrane, Harold Reynolds, and of course Bob Costas, for not simply rubber-stamping McGwire’s ridiculous disconnect between the steroids and the productivity.
This apology is about one percent more substantial than Jason Giambi’s. And it came five years later.



    Hey, it’s not his fault!

    Long-term anabolic steroid use causes memory loss and impairs learning. So of course Mr. McGwire doesn’t get it. He never will.


    Why do these losers always drag God into their little pity parties? At best it’s hypocritical; at worst it’s blasphemous.

    The man is delusional.

  3. dhacks

    I’m additionally disappointed that this admission came so soon after McGwire’s second HOF rejection, all but confirming that his previous policy of staying mum was inconsistent with potential enshrinement. It’s almost as if he said “I’m never getting to Cooperstown this way, let’s try something different.”

    I’m not mad at Mark. I feel sorry for him. He made less than noble choices, starting in his twenties, but it’s not twenty something athletes defining the widespread culture of corruption in baseball. It’s lawyers and industrialists exploiting ordinary fans – the players are primarily conduits to this transaction.

    Rgds, Matt


    I ‘m curious…this was Mark’s FOURTH Hall of Fame rejection…does that make you more or less disappointed ?

  5. dhacks

    My mistake. Four years with consistently paltry HOF support. In terms of both content and timing, I still see this admission as mostly a public relations maneuver.

  6. jeter0201

    Fathers, sons,and grandsons have been united by comparing stats about generations of ballplayers. From Ruth to Williams to Mantle to Jeter. This isn’t about Mark McGwire. This is about the future credibility of a sport beloved by millions, whose “holy grail”, the use of numbers/statistics, has been permanently damaged in one decade, on par w/the “Black Sox” scandal.
    Mark McGwire has come clean, you say? good for him.

  7. mantlewasarockstar

    Keith, I’m a big fan of yours but I must take issue with a couple of things:
    First of all, who’s to say McGwire couldn’t have been as great w/o steroids? He had two seasons–yes, two–where his HR total was exorbitant (70 and 65, in ’98, ’99, respectively), otherwise his HR-per-season numbers were consistent. After all this guy hit 49 HRs in his rookie year and 42 in his last “clean” season. (Judging by Costa’s post interview comments you would think McGwire hit 60+ HRs every year for 10 years. Until you look at McG’s numbers, that is.) The dirty little truth, that those who feign moral outrage will never admit, is that there are tons of players who did PEDs and never amounted to ANYTHING. [crickets chirping] And let’s not get into the hypocrisy of the pulchritude of the game: JC Romero, not some scrub, but the Phillies setup man during their ’08 championship season was soon after caught and suspended for a PED violation and NO ONE said a word. Where was the outrage then, if it’s all about the sanctity of the game? (And how do we make judgements about numbers during the steroid era without knowing if supposedly juiced hitters were or weren’t facing juiced pitchers, for instance?)

    Second, I’m disappointed that you chose to praise the guys on the MLBN panel who covered the pre and post interview segments. As Harold Reynolds later stated, they made it seem–as do you–that McG comes off much worse than he actually did; as if he had flipped everyone a big middle finger during the interview. No, they didn’t rubber stamp McG’s statements; they actually went out of their way to kick dirt in his face.

    For the record, I don’t condone what he did and wish he hadn’t done it. I’m disappointed in players that have decided to take the steroids route, including faves of mine. But, I was so appalled by the petty and hypocritical way the vast majority of the baseball press conducted themselves during the A-Rod PED scandal that I have come to believe that Manny Ramirez’s non-chalant, disrespectful brush-off, when openly confronted about his own steroid use??It’s not like I killed or raped anybody??is every bit the treatment these hacks deserved. (Yes, they’ll have their revenge on him when it comes time for Manny to make reservations for Cooperstown. But I would bet top dollar he gives not a @#*&.)

    In other words, are the writers going to change their minds and grant McG their Hall of Fame vote now that he’s given a confession/apology which they tirelessly demanded? No, right? Damned if you do…

    So I say, let the self-righteous, irresponsible and trifling scribes harp on about it. Whatever. I’m a Yankee fan but let me just say, good luck to Big Mac and the Cards in 2010.

    Enough already.





    Why does LaRussa continually get a free pass on the steroid issue? I have heard a Hall of Famer tell a story of visiting an old teammate wo was a coach with the A’s in the late 80’s. “A guy walked by the size of a linebacker, so i asked “what is that?””. The response from the coach was a non-chalant “oh, that’s steroids”… A coach knew but the manager didnt? come on.



    Previous to 1931, fly balls that bounced over or through the outfield fence were considered home runs. (ground rule doubles now) So…… many of those did Babe Ruth hit? Why isn’t there an asterisk next to Babe’s name indicating that some of his home runs may have actually bounced over the outfield fences. Is there a stat somewhere with that information? Roger Maris hit all of his home runs over the outfield fences and he has an asterisk next to his name for breaking the home run record in more games than Babe Ruth did. It’s not Babe’s fault that the rules were in place to allow such homeruns or was it the fault of Maris that the number of games were extended. Yet clearly Roger Maris has an asterisk in place. It’s interesting that there isn’t an asterisk next to Babe’s name with the rule change clearly noted. Regardless, these two gentlemen where doing their thing steroid free and should be held in the highest regard for not “cheating”. Baseball rules do change from time to time. However, given the aforementioned information, wouldn’t it be nice if the asterisk could be removed from Roger Maris’ name and now placed next to “THE JUICERS”.
    Shadowball Fan


    16 / 50 / 18. Anyone who wants to fall for the McGwire (and others) line about HGH or steroids not really enhancing performance should remember these numbers. What are they? They are Brady Anderson’s home run totals in 1995 (554 at-bats) ’96 (579 at-bats), and ’97 (590 at-bats). Baseball and Bud Selig should have been looking at it, HARD, right then. The ‘one extra good swing a week’ explanation given by Anderson was lame then and a pitiful joke now. Personally, I can’t wait for Bud Selig to retire, but on the other hand I have little faith that the owners will learn from their 17+ year error and choose a really independent commisioner who has the best interests of baseball (and not the owners) at heart.

  12. wakecardsfan

    I find it interesting that McGwire is made out to be the devil in an era where steroids were rampant. I’m not saying that makes it right but it’s not as if he was the ONLY ONE. You’re putting him on the chopping block for a generations fault. Get over it. It’s not as if this is some big life changing revelation either. You either suspected it or you turned a blind eye to it. Either way, you knew of the suspicions from the very beginning.

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