Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mark McGwire: Apology Rejected


Mark McGwire spent two days this week revealing he had used steroids, to the shock of exactly no one, then apologizing and explaining to anyone with a camera or microphone that he was really very sorry. Only he never explained who he was apologizing to or what he was sorry for.

He didn't have to apologize to me. It makes no difference to me what he put into his body. I enjoyed seeing him hit the ball over the wall, and the 1998 race with Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris' record was exciting even to someone who isn't a baseball fanatic (which I am not). If it took steroids to make that happen, I have no problem with that. If I didn't enjoy watching people sacrifice their bodies for my entertainment, I wouldn't spend so many Sundays watching the NFL (nor would I have liked the exploits of Johnny Knoxville and his "Jackass" colleagues). If our culture really objected to artificially-inflated bodies, there wouldn't be any more beauty pageants or strip clubs, would there?

Was McGwire apologizing for his success in the batter's box? Not one bit. He claims that his talent had nothing to do with the steroids, that he only took them for medical purposes. To my knowledge, he's yet to produce a note from any doctor who said he prescribed these things. You know you're outside the law when the drugs you're using are delivered in a brown paper bag and exchanged in the back of the locker room (or you have your maid get them from your dealer in the parking lot of a Denny's in Florida, as another highly-paid celebrity did).

Maybe McGwire should apologize to Barbara Walters, who had to be pissed off when she saw McGwire crying in all those interviews. Getting guests to cry is supposed be her job. Instead, the tears flowed as he talked almost exclusively to male sportscasters, proving wrong the Tom Hanks adage about crying in baseball.

It's funny to me that McGwire took the time in a couple of interviews to go after Jose Canseco, who was lambasted by the baseball establishment when he revealed inside information about steroid use by McGwire and others in his book, "Juiced." The irony is that, five years later, Canseco appears to be the only honest one in the dugout. By the way, I talked at length with Jose when we both played a poker tournament at the Venetian last summer, and I can tell you that he is still a huge human being. The man has his own zip code. He has muscles in places I don't have places. He must get his shirts at the Big & Hulk store.

McGwire also said that he's glad to finally have the chance to talk about this matter. Who does he think he's kidding? He could have discussed his steroid use at any time. One phone call to Bob Costas, Joe Buck, or Bernie Miklasz, and he'd get all the time and attention he wanted for his revelation -- particularly after his outrageous non-testimony before Congress in March, 2005. Or did he have to wait until some statute of limitations expired?

No, he's only on the record now because he's going back to work as batting coach for the Cardinals, who don't seem to mind that he lied to them repeatedly about the pills and syringes that were part of his workout regimen while wearing their uniform. He's coming clean because spring training starts in a few weeks, and if he didn't do this in January, he'd be hounded by reporters from day one in Florida -- and since he's never been very good with the media, he figured (or his publicists told him) it would be better to get this all of his chest now and then hope the matter would be closed.

You're sorry, Mark, but not in the way you intended.