Monday, January 11, 2010

New News is No News

January 11th, 2010
New York, NY


So it’s been months since my five loyal readers have been able to read Mr. Black. Because I’ve been busy with that pesky day job. And unlike that sellout Sports Guy, I don’t get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the worldwide leader in brand extensions to write about how Kevin Connolly and Vince Young have had the same career trajectory.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Mark McGuire.

Of all the great sports stories that should have gotten me in front of the computer screen (I’m looking at you Gilbert Arenas) leave it to Big Mac to get me to write. I admit the whole “I was using performance-enhancing drugs” stories in Major League Baseball are getting cliché, but this one takes the cake. It’s like Godzilla having a press conference to announce, “I’m a big lizard.”

I mean, no one else saw this coming?

When we last saw McGuire, he was on Capitol Hill refusing to “talk about the past” but about a week ago, Big Mac’s chronic enabler, Tony LaRussa, made him the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals under the cover of the NFL playoffs. Barely a blip on the sports radar, the baseball beat writers were sharpening their pencils for the first press conference where they could ask the big fella about PEDs because he was notably absent from the announcement.


Most of the time a potential hall of famer gets back into the game they have lots to say.

This time, there was no word from McGuire. Nothing. Nada. Not a peep about being happy to get back into baseball, work with LaRussa, or get free sunflower seeds. Total radio silence. Crickets.

Anyone who follows politics or baseball knows something was up.

Obviously, the press people from the Cards were locked in an undisclosed location helping craft the coming out speech. After a few days of press strategizing, Big Mac was ready for the biggest story of his life. The one where he could announce that he did indeed use steroids.

So after a week of thinking about how to finally talk about the past, McGuire said nothing that Pettitte, A-Rod or Ortiz didn’t say. He had the usual soundbytes: claiming he just dabbled, blaming injuries, the passive version of “everyone was doing it” and of course, an apology. Here’re some highlights:

"It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize.”

“Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era."

"I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again"



Most telling is an admission of using steriods in 1998, when he set the major league record for home runs. Which, notably was a year that he never was injured (he played 155 games) and was a decade after he “tried” steroids “off and on”.

And by the way, he didn’t even have the balls to do this announcement in person, like everyone else has. It was via a press release to the AP.

I guess steroids really does shrink your nuts.

Anyway, his big news was no news, and by doing it by fax he seems content for us to draw our own conclusions.

I drew mine conclusion five years ago.

Mark, you’re a cheater. You cheated the fans who cheered you on, you cheated the manager who’s always stuck by you, you cheated Roger Maris and Babe Ruth and most of all, you cheated baseball.

The fact that most of the league was cheating doesn’t excuse it.

The fact that there were no rules specifically against steroids doesn’t excuse it.

Baseball used to be a game of giants, of personalities larger than life that people loved in spite of all their faults. Now it’s a game of thieves hiding in corners, averting their eyes when anyone looks their way. (Remember Ortiz and his sunglasses?)

So do us all a favor. Come clean about how you really feel, under the spotlight of the press. Give us the chance to ask you real hard questions, like “do you feel like you earned the home run title” or “in light of what you just admitted, do you deserve to be in the hall of fame” or “how do you expect young players to react when you ask them to put in extra work to be successful when you took the easy route.”

If not, just crawl back under the rock where you were hiding for the last five years. Because baseball doesn’t need another liar, it needs someone to tell the truth. It needs someone to stop apologizing and take responsibility. It needs someone to remove themselves from the record book because what they did was wrong.

Until then, it’s like The Greek just told me, “looks like the magic number is still 61.”

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