Friday, January 23, 2009

Mark McGwire's Air Tight Excuse

I have a new defense the next time I do something egregiously wrong, whether at work or personally…human error. How does that work? I’ll let Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle explain:

McGwire’s Mistake was Human Error.

Pure, simple, could-happen-to-anyone human error. Like forgetting to carry a one or grazing the side of the garage when parking your car or purposefully injecting yourself with a not-quite-legal performance-enhancing drug that markedly improves your performance.

People are way more complicated than those of us in the media sometimes paint them. For instance, Mark McGwire. He was a great baseball player in every sense.

Except for that whole not cheating part.

Not only was he one of the best offensive players of all time, he handled himself with class off the field as well.

He helped little old ladies across the street, helped abused children and never swore. He also used the shit out of steroids. But he never swore.

His teammates loved him. They admired his talent, and they loved his humility and decency. They loved how he went about his business and placed winning above any individual accomplishment.

They loved how he gave them access to his dealer and his abnormal size and performance gains gave cover for their own steroid use. They loved how he never lorded it over them that he got into steroids first. They thought that it was pretty decent when he shared his needles. They loved how he made the 90s fun.

I got to know him over the years and found him to be smart, moody and dedicated to being the best he could be.

It’s weird, he was never described as moody during his early years in Oakland…

I know all the things he’s accused of doing, and I believe he did them. In his case, unlike those of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, performance-enhancing drugs might have been critical to the career he had.

It would be pretty neat-o if sportswriters used actual evidence when they made an argument. It would help to make this credible, it’s kinda their job and it would make it so I wasn't wondering why Mark McGwire, an excellent player who became abnormally awesome in his twilight years, was good only because of performance-enhancing drugs, whereas Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who were also both excellent players who became abnormally awesome in their twilight years because of performance-enhancing drugs too, would have been good anyway.

I am not saying this is wrong. I am not even saying that it is a ridiculous assertion because it is impossible to prove. I am just saying that a little information to back it up would be nice.

The Sept. 11 attacks had occurred two weeks earlier when we spoke, and McGwire’s eyes filled with tears as he talked of being glued to CNN for hours.

Or we could just change subjects. That’s cool, too.

He wondered what he could do to help the victims.

Strangely, neither 9/11 nor McGwire’s helping the victims are relevant to his unethical and illegal use of steroids, but let’s stick with this for a while. It’s a human interest story. People love that shit.

Even steroid users have charitable hearts.

Must be a side effect of the drug.

I’m guessing he has been devastated by the loss of his good name these past few years.

And the worst part is that because of the steroids, he’s still too bulky to pay the world’s smallest violin.

I figured he would be the first of the alleged steroid guys to tell the world what they did and why.

Me: Why Mark, why?
Mark McGwire: Well, I was in my late 30s and not that good anymore and wanted to be better so I could make millions more dollars.
Me: Hmm. Do you think that would make me better at my job?
Mark McGwire: What do you do?
Me: I blog.
Mark McGwire: Couldn’t hurt.
Me: Do you know a guy?

If that happens, others could come forward. They might find that people are way more forgiving than they think. The truth is we’re all trying to get our minds around baseball’s steroid era.

And the best way to get our minds off of the steroid era is to have a bunch of guys from the era talk about all the drugs they did. Logic. Fail.

… Forget prison. What Bonds and Clemens have lost is far worse than jail time. Their reputations have been destroyed, their accomplishments diminished.

Cheating leads to people thinking you are better than you are. Getting caught leads to people thinking that you’re not as good as they thought you were before they knew you were a cheat. And that is worse than jail.

Fans sometimes complain that players don’t care as much as they do. In the case of Bonds, McGwire and Clemens, they might have cared too much.

The old “I hit you because I love you” defense. Air tight.

They allowed their ambition to get the best of their judgment. For that, they’ll pay forever.

And that seems fair, right? What is Justice going to write next, an agonized defense of Madoff?


drunyon said...

He didn't say we're trying to get our minds "off" the steroid era. He said we are trying to get our minds "around" the steroid era. There's a subtle and important difference there.

Nils Nilsson said...

@ drunyon - that is a good point...somehow i misread that sentence. scratch that snarky comment.