Tuesday, 12 January 2010

State of...Cheating!

Let me first start by saying that I admire Mark McGwire for what he did yesterday. Regardless of why he came out, it takes a big person to admit they were wrong. And to admit it to millions of people is even more difficult. That being said, Mark McGwire does NOT deserve to be in the Hall of Fame (HOF).

Mark McGwire was a very good (possibly great) homerun hitter but his entire career and his HOF worthy numbers are all tainted. We don’t know which numbers were done while he was clean and which ones he accomplished while using steroids. We don’t know if he had stayed clean his whole life what his final homerun totals would be. I tend to think that he still would have been a much respected power hitter but we just don’t know for sure. There are those that will argue for one reason or another that he deserves to be recognized in the Hall of Fame. They might use some of the following arguments:

- Everyone else in his day was doing it
- Steroids don’t improve your hand-eye coordination
- It wasn’t banned by Major League Baseball

And to those people I say this:

#1 “Everyone else in his day doing it”
I don’t care if everyone else was doing it. I don’t care if every pitcher in the league was using ‘roids – that doesn’t make it right. I won’t believe that all baseball players in the “Steroid Era” were using drugs. A player like Fred McGriff (who has never been accused of using performance enhacing drugs) played his career clean and put up some very very good numbers. His accomplishments have been overshadowed because of cheaters like Canseco and McGwire. If these CHEATERS hadn’t put up such gaudy numbers then maybe some of the clean hitters would have a chance to be in the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame that the guys who relied solely only on their God given talents and hard word (and NOT on drugs) are cast aside as mediocre because of the few outliers.

#2 "Steroids don’t improve your hand-eye coordination"
We don’t know this for sure, but let’s take this as fact for now. People say that hitting a 90+ MPH pitch with a stick is one of the harder things to do in all of sports. Steroids may not help you accomplish the task of putting wood to ball, but it sure helps your strength. Who’s to say that 100 of McGwire’s homeruns wouldn’t have just been deep fly balls without the assistance of steroids? Maybe that number is only 50. Or maybe it’s 250. We don’t know for sure which homers were drug assisted and which ones weren’t – so we have to throw them ALL out. McGwire wasn’t a very good hitter (based on average) so let’s take a look at how a small change like adding strength can change a career. Say McGwire went 0-4 (one pop-out, 2 strikeouts, and a ground out) without steroids. If by taking steroids he is able to add an extra 20 feet to his fly balls then his 0-4 suddenly becomes 1-4 with a homer. Since he’s now hitting with more power the pitcher might decide not to take a chance of giving him anything to hit in his next at bat. So maybe now he gets a walk instead of a strikeout. So he went from being 0-4 to suddenly being 1-3 with a homer. Those are Hall of Fame numbers to be sure. But he didn’t do that on his own merit. He CHEATED to accomplish this.

#3 "It wasn’t banned by Major League Baseball"
Shame on MLB for not only not banning steroids but also for hiding their heads in the sand. At the time of McGwire and Sosa and their rise to greatness, baseball was suffering from lack of interest. These two player singlehandedly brought people back to the sport. Baseball NEEDED these guys to raise their game from their recent case of indifference. I was right there with everyone else. After the strike I lost a lot of interest in MLB (the Expos were robbed of a Championship title by the way) and these two guys got me back interested. See, I’m not saying that steroids don’t provide excited – they do. I’m happy to sit and watch a genetically enhance behemoths hit 500 foot homers – that’s exciting (but don’t expect me to say these mutants are “great players”). But it’s exciting in the way that watching Hulk Hogan or HHH fight. Also, while MLB hadn’t banned steroids it was still ILLEGAL! These guys broke the law in order to enhance their playing abilities. If you were driving down the highway and the speed limit was 65 but you knew that there weren’t any cops would you speed? Of course you would (I sure would). But if you did get caught you couldn’t argue that it was the cops fault for not having radar setup. You knew you were breaking the law.

It’s a shame that we will never know how good these players were without the use of performance enhancing drugs. Would McGwire have broken Mantle’s record? We will never know. But what we do know is that he was CHEATING while he broke it. That is a fact. He knew what he was doing was wrong but decided that the risk was worth the reward. Well guess what Mark, here is where your decisions come back to bite you in your big pin-cushion behind. You don’t get to go into the Hall of Fame. Sure you’ve made millions of dollars, but you don’t deserve to be enshrined into baseballs chamber of greatness.



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