Mark McGwire’s “George Costanza Day”
I’m still suffering from ‘roid rage. I am so infuriated by baseball’s orchestrated Mark McGwire earlier this week and the fact that people fell for this coordinated PR concoction that I am beside myself. There are so many holes in the McGwire public “testimony” that the fact that he is getting support for coming clean and sympathy for this torment he has had to endure, I am amazed and appalled.
Let’s take a look at some of the statements made by McGwire:
“I wish I had not played in the steroid era.” When I first heard this, I felt sympathy. I admit it, I fell for the line. My bad. The more I heard McGwire the more I realized that McGwire didn’t just play in the steroid era, Mark McGwire WAS the steroid era. He was the poster boy! He was the center of everyone’s attention, accolades and adoration. According to numerous accounts, it was the steroid-enhanced home run battle between McGwire and Sammy Sosa that prompted the jealous Barry Bonds to start using steroids in order to get the attention he felt he deserved.
“I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter.” If you believe that statement then you will you believe that the Cardinals will have numerous hitters who, under McGwire’s tutelage, will have 40+ home run seasons. Does McGwire honestly think that what he said was true? I can’t help but think of the words uttered by that great philosopher George Costanza, ”It’s not a lie, if you believe it.”
“The steroids I did were on a very low dosage. I didn’t want to take a lot of it. I took very, very low dosages, just because I wanted my body to feel normal. The wear and tear of 162 ballgames and the status of where I was at, and the pressures that I had to perform, and what I had to go through to try and get through all these injuries, it’s a very, very regrettable thing.” According to FBI sources, McGwire was frequently mentioned during “Operation Equine,” an anabolic steroids investigation that led to 70 trafficking convictions in the early 1990s. Here’s the steroid cocktail FBI informants say Mark McGwire took in the ’90s: 1/2 cc of testosterone cypionate every three days, 1 cc of testosterone enanthate per week, 1/4 cc of equipoise and winstrol v every three days, injected into the buttocks, one shot for one cheek, one shot for the other.
“I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Sen. George Mitchell to conduct his investigation. This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s re-entry into the game much smoother and easier.” It is imperative to note that the McGwire Show yesterday was orchestrated by Ari Fleischer. Yes the same Ari Fleischer who manipulated the public’s opinion as the primary spokesperson for President George W. Bush. He served during the presidential recount, September 11th, two wars and the anthrax attack. Fleischer now oversees Ari Fleischer Sports Communications which he founded, according to his website, “to successfully handle the toughest situations with the most aggressive reporters.” Mark McGwire is an Ari Fleischer client
And Fleischer has numerous other clients including the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the BCS, various NFL teams, and yes, Major League Baseball. In fact, the very first testimonial on his site is from none other than Bud Selig, his ownself, “Ari’s advice on how to handle the press and deal with difficult communications problems has been of great value to me. Ari has helped me get ready for many major media events. He understands how reporters operate, and he uses that knowledge well. It’s very helpful to have him as part of my team.”
It would be not a stretch to imagine that Fleischer worked with McGwire, coordinating the press interactions, training McGwire as to how to answer the various questions being asked, perhaps even suggesting when it might be a good time to tear up. Assuredly he worked with the Commissioner’s Office as to how to react to the McGwire announcement (it certainly wasn’t a revelation). He clearly was the person who arranged the Bob Costas MLB Network interview but hopefully not because Costas is represented by IMG, which owns half of Fleischer’s company.
“I knew some way, somehow, some way, some day the time would come. When the opportunity of becoming a hitting coach of the Cardinals — which I am so excited about and I can’t wait to get started – when that came about, and talking to ‘Mo’ (John Mozeliak) and Tony (LaRussa), I told them we need to do something. I need to come out, I need to do this. I don’t want any distractions with this ballclub about what happened to me in my past. And I bought into them by saying, ‘Listen, I want to come forward and I want to come clean. I want to get this behind me. I want to move on.’ I want to start my second career as a hitting coach and that’s all I want to concentrate on.”
McGwire repeatedly said, ”Today is the hardest day of my life ….” I don’t doubt it. McGwire had to talk about his indiscretions in a way that sounded sincere and believable. He had to rehearse, prepare and admit to the public and to his friends and family something that was obvious to everyone but himself. He actually had to convince the world that he used performance enhancement drugs that did not enhance his performance, but was justifiable in his mind because unlike other athletes, Mark McGwire was injured. I can only imagine McGwire’s reaction to Patriots QB postgame comment Sunday,”I just think injuries are a bunch of BS. I just think when you play, you play, and if you can’t play, you can’t play. But when you’re out there playing, you’ve got to play at the level that the team expects you to play.”
I must admit that there was a part of me that felt that steroid users, in regard to the Hall of Fame, “if you admit, we can admit.” I don’t believe that after McGwire’s performance. I tell you what I believe however:
- Mark McGwire should not be in the Hall of Fame and quite frankly should not be in uniform in the MLB.
- Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs in one season remains the record that should be respected.
- Hank Aaron’s record of 755 home runs in a career remains the record that should be respected.
Baseball has indeed moved beyond the stain of the steroid era, and yes, that era for the most part is under control. The best proof is that this off-season the Red Sox and the Mariners focused on pitching and defense, not on home run hitters. We are returning to skills baseball and that will ultimately be for the betterment of the game and for the enjoyment of the fans. But yesterday’s misstep should only be regarded as more fiction, then fact and nothing more than that.
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