The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Free Pass

I continue to read in the media about how Barry Bonds is guilty and his records are tainted and should be noted with an asterisk (see last week's cover of Sports Illustrated for proof), but I find it interesting that Mark McGwire is getting nearly the opposite treatment.

Tom Verducci claims that McGwire should not even be lumped in with Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield and the other suspects because Mark came clean all the way back in 1998 and admitted to using androsteindione. Granted McGwire did admit to using this supplement which only recently has become illegal in this country. But Bonds, Giambi, et al have also only admitted to using legal supplements of various sorts. And there's nothing to say that McGwire didn't lie about his steroid usage. I'm not here trying to condemn Mark McGwire or anyone else. It just doesn't seem fair to take McGwire as more credible than Bonds, Giambi, or anyone else.

Why does McGwire get the free pass here? Like Bonds, McGwire put on a considerable amount of weight over his playing career. More interestingly (and only time will tell with Bonds) I've heard from multiple sources that McGwire has dropped a considerable amount of weight since he retired a few years back (unfortunately I can't find a recent picture). Not that many men I know put on 20, 30, 40, or 50 pounds of muscle in their 30s and then lose that same muscle shortly thereafter. That's just not natural. Yes, I know we're dealing with freaks of nature here. Few of us can hit a 90 mile per hour fastball and even fewer still can hit that fastball 500 feet. But some of this weight gain/weight loss borders on absurdity.

Personally, I'm not for condeming any of these players until all of the facts are known. Even when some facts are known (say Bonds or Sheffield tests positive this year) that doesn't mean necessarily that particular player was on steroids in a previous year. We will never be able to test McGwire or Sosa in 1998 or Bonds and Sosa in 2001. Their accomplishments will always be held in some circles under varying levels of suspicion, but I don't understand why it's fair to accuse one player of bending the rules (remember that steroids weren't illegal in baseball in 1998 or 2001 - although that's a technicality since they were illegal in the USA) and not others.

Let the justice system run its course. We'll see what happens. I'm not convinced though that it will allow us to rewrite history.


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