Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm having 'roid rage

You know, I am getting more than a little fed up with all those Mark McGwire apologists out there. They always drop Ty Cobb's name into this debate and that amuses me to no end. Say what you want about Cobb's personality, sure he was batshit crazy, a horrible racist and may have killed a man with his bare hands but...but...but...he was such a baseball purist that he would have thought anyone that took a foreign substance in order to perform better than their peers was a lowlife and not worth spiking. Hell, he couldn't stomach home runs and barely tolerated Babe Ruth. I doubt he would have cheered players with physiques as grotesque as Popeye's.

Then they mention Gaylord Perry and the spit ball. Well, surely, they say, if Perry, a self admitted spitballer (why he even wrote a book called Me and the Spitter!!!!) can sit in that hallowed hall with his criminal past then certainly someone like McGwire who also bent the rules to gain a competitive advantage should be in the hall of fame. What a load of hooey! First of all the spitball involves adding a little moisture to a baseball so when the ball is pitched it has extra movement on it as it approaches the plate. That extra movement makes the ball more difficult to hit. Steroids create unnatural behemoths that can hit a baseball almost 700 feet. I think you can see the difference. Also the spitball has been around as long as baseball existed and once it became illegal then it became one more rule that players did all they could to bypass. One of the intricacies of baseball that fans love about it is the constant attempts by players and managers to skirt the rulebook. Back in the early 1900's when there was only one umpire running a game baserunners would round off third base if the ball was hit down the right field line. Hey, if John McGraw scored a few extra runs because he missed third base when he could then it's just fine if Mark McGwire juiced himself up to monstrous proportions. Honestly, if these writers can't tell the difference between king kong like physiques and a few sneaky spitballs then they are either lying to themselves or shameless apologists.

What is sad about these apologists is the reason they are stooping to defending an obvious cheater. The reason is that baseball statistics are about as sacred to some Americans as their chosen holy book. Baseball survives and thrives on its statistics. There are websites out there devoted to these
statistics and players like Bonds, Canseco, and McGwire have taken our collective baseball encyclopedia and tea bagged it with their tiny steroid-shrunken balls. Sometimes I wish I could look the other way and just pretend these artificial feats were the achievements of great athletes but they weren't and it should be acknowledged. I swear to god, if Barry Bonds approaches the career home run record this year and Hank Aaron is pressured into attending the game and is forced to stand smiling next to that giant headed monster, I will shed a tear. Hank Aaron broke into baseball when a black player still had to fight his way through the league and he broke Babe Ruth's record while enduring death threats. Barry Bonds is a spoiled rich kid who pumped himself full of drugs.

Hopefully a precedent was set today by the baseball writers when less than thirty percent of them voted to induct Mark McGwire into the baseball hall of fame. Players from the steroid era that so obviously cheated don't belong in the same hall of fame with true and honorable players like the sly Gaylord Perry, the ferocious Ty Cobb and future inductee, the graceful Derek Jeter.

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