McGwire admission reconsidered

January 12, 2010

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….

“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!

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.

7 Responses to “McGwire admission reconsidered”

  1. Nathan Zimmerman says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Mark McGuire admission. Your perspective as a veteran major league ballplayer is extremely valuable and as the father of a college ballplayer (Division III) I know how important it is for young ball players to do it the right way. I have tried to impart a work ethic to my son that includes the importance of the mental aspect of the game, and your comment is one of the few I have read or heard that addresses the impact of steroids on that issue. We know that some of the top ballplayers have a remarkable ability to focus (i.e. Roger Clemens) but it also appears that that ability may also contribute to self delusion as well (did Clemens actually believe he was throwing a ball at Mike Piazza?).

    Thank you for your comments and thank you for your website; I’m glad i found it.


    Nathan Zimmerman

  2. Mike F. says:


    Great take on this. I enjoy the fact that you stayed above the fray and the name calling, and just examined Mark’s statements. I think this is a case where Mark should have said less, too many qualifications/excuses just takes all the weight out of the apology. Short, simple and sincere would have been the better way to go. Couldn’t agree more on the Selig piece as well, that’s one step short of apologizing to his drug dealer.

  3. Marc Waite says:

    Wow, for a major leaguer you understand very little about hitting. Strength makes up for mechanical flaws? Well then, why isn’t anyone signing Brock Lesnar – he’d be an outstanding home run hitter under your theory. I guess Alexei Ramirez is just very talented at putting the bat’s sweet spot on the ball, because he certainly isn’t huge and still manages to hit home runs.
    Rather, home runs are generated by bat speed and the torque created by separation between the shoulders and hips. There are plenty of strong guys who cannot generate bat speed because they cannot get separation between the shoulders and hips. Bulky upper bodies actually work against this process. NFL players are, on average, bigger and stronger than MLB players (for point of reference, Michigan State has a freshman tight end that is bigger than McGwire ever was during McGwire’s playing days). Do you really think an NFL player could step on a MLB field and start hitting home runs? That’s absurd. Rather than McGwire, your “theory” disrespects hitting and just how difficult it is to hit home runs.
    McGwire disrespects the greats of the past huh? What about those “greats” who used amphetamines? Does McGwire disrespect those as well? Many reports had Mickey Mantle taking amphetamines “like candy” in order to chase off a hangover and play. Does McGwire disrespect Mantle too?
    As for the confidence factor, amphetamines do the same thing. Why aren’t you on your soap box about those? Amphetamines have been prevalent in baseball since at least the 50s. Do you go up to a teammate who is taking amphetamines so he can play and tell him he’s “disrespecting” the greats of the past?
    In short, your arrogant, self-righteous diatribe makes me ill. Your lack of knowledge of hitting makes me angry that I’ve supported teams that have employed you. You have no more business on a major league field than a local beer league softball player does. Show some professionalism and gain som knowledge of your craft.

  4. Brent Mayne says:

    Sorry my friend, but strength matters. Period. Unfortunately you read a little too much into my statement that strength makes up for mechanical flaws. Obviously, strength isn’t the only factor. It’s simplistic to think you could take any Joe off the street, pump him full of roids, and turn him loose in the big leagues to dominate.
    For the most part, a big leaguer is a big leaguer – juice or no juice. It’s just that a big leaguer on steroids is a bigger, stronger big leaguer. And yes, strength does mask shortcomings in skill. For instance, take a pitcher who throws 100MPH vs a pitcher who throws 85MPH (assuming they both have similar movement on their ball.) The 100MPHer will still get some outs by rearing back and blowing it by guys, even when he doesn’t have his control. By contrast, the 85MPHer isn’t gonna be getting a whole lot of outs if he doesn’t have his control. This is strength making up for a shortcoming in skill. Simple but true.
    If you need statistical proof that strength matters and effects the game, just look at the jump in statistics during the ’steroid era’ (1992-2003ish) Did players just all the sudden get THAT MUCH better than any other time in the history of the game? Should Brady Anderson REALLY have hit 50 homers in a season? Nope. Drugs.
    Oh, and amphetamines are a completely different animal than steroids. It turns out all drugs aren’t created equal! Yeah, they give you a jolt, but they don’t make you into a gorilla – mentally or physically. And since all ballplayers since the beginning of time have used “beans,” I wouldn’t say anyone is disrespecting anyone by using them.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Mantle, Mays, or Ruth wouldn’t have used steroids if they’d been available. Chances are, they probably would’ve. And again, I’m NOT passing judgement on anyone who chooses to use them. I definitely take exception however, when someone says they only took steroids for health and that it has nothing to do with performance. To me that’s denying the obvious truth that strength matters and steroids make you stronger. Mark isn’t disrespecting the players of the past by taking steroids. He most definitely does disrespect them (and those who didn’t use) when he says they had nothing to do with his performance or his stats.
    Sorry to make you ill.

  5. Steve says:

    Thanks for calling it like it is, Brent. This guy Marc Waite is completely delusional in not understanding your original post. Marc, it’s REALLY simple: When you feel better, you will perform better. Steroids not only make you feel better, they make you feel like you’re unstopable. SO. If you already have the necessary skills to be a major leaguer WITHOUT the roids, imagine how much better you’re gonna be without all the daily aches and pains that the grind of the season is gonna bring you. Dude, it’s common sense.

  6. godfather says:

    You might be recognized as the batter who foiled Bucky Showalter’s bases-loaded IBB to Barry Bonds, if only you hadn’t misdirected that line drive. Agree with you on the McGwire “confession.” He insults the intelligence of people with his asinine contempt for them. Love your take on how catchers can help pitchers to get in an efficient groove.

  7. Bart C says:

    I agree with you, I don’t think Tony Mandarich could hit the curve ball either. I’m just a little curious which team it is that you are angry with? Is it the Royals, Mets, A’s, Giants, Rockies, D Backs or Dodgers. It’s odd that so many GM’s and scouts could make a mistake on a guy over the course of 14 years.

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