Hold up. I wrote yesterday’s blog after reading the initial statements that Mark McGwire made regarding his steroid use. But then I saw the Costas/MLB interview and now I have a different perspective.
Did Mark really imply that steroids had/has no effect on performance? Please tell me he’s not doing this. I applauded him yesterday for his thorough admission, and I still do. That was a very difficult (but liberating) act. I also want to reiterate that Mark’s good guy and that I’m not passing judgement on him as a person.
That being said, I’ve got to say that his answers to these questions are totally false….
ON WHETHER HE THINKS HE WOULD STILL HAVE PERFORMED AS WELL WITHOUT STEROIDS:
“I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes… I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There’s not a pill or an injection that is going to give me — or any athlete — the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball.”
I flat out disagree and I’m bummed that he’s taking this “health purpose” angle. First and foremost, YES you did take steroids for strength purposes and YES your bat speed and power were enhanced by them. I can’t even believe that he’s saying that.
Mark’s right that there isn’t a pill that gives someone great hand eye coordination, but it’s so much deeper than that. Strength makes up for so many mechanical shortcomings. In other words, the stronger you are, the less spot on you’ve got to be with your technique. Mark could miss-hit balls that would go out of the park or have enough on them to get in the gaps. I on the other hand (and all the others before the steroid era) had to square a ball exactly to get it through the hole or out of the park.
So YES Mark, steroids make you stronger and YES it has a huge impact on the results! Why would you call the Maris to apologize if it didn’t?
And another thing. And this may be more important than anything…especially in a game that is every bit as mental as physical. Newsflash! Steroids are a DRUG. As in, cocaine is a DRUG. They both make you feel like superman. People are consistently undervaluing the effect of the mental edge steroids/PEDs give an athlete. At the highest levels confidence is HUGE, feeling good is HUGE. The athlete who feels fresh, who is confident, who feels like a thousand pound gorilla, is going to dominate. Especially when you’re grinding out 162 games.
McGwire alluded to this when he mentions he used steroids for his health and to feel better. Look Mark, we all want to feel better! Somedays you just don’t and you’ve got to learn how to deal with that. We all have to deal with injuries and not playing at 100%. This is part of life and part of being a ballplayer. Learning how to compete with what you’ve got and how to stay healthy IS being a big leaguer!
ASKED REPEATEDLY BY COSTAS IF HE BELIEVED THAT HIS STATISTICS AND RECORDS WERE LEGITIMATE IN LIGHT OF THE DISCLOSURE…
McGwire did not budge. “Absolutely,” he said. “I truly believe so.”
I totally disagree. It helped him mentally and physically and his statistics reflect this fact. I think Mark’s failure to acknowledge this disrespects the greats of the past and those who didn’t use. Oh well….life goes on.
Oh yeah. One last thing I can’t understand. Why did McGwire apologize to Selig? As if Bud, the owners, and the front office are innocent and had no idea all this was taking place….c’mon, please spare me! They’re as guilty as anyone.