Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Am Shocked That There is Gambling at Rick's!

Which is more surprising: that Mark McGwire did steroids or that:
Mark McGwire’s apologetic interview with Bob Costas was the culmination of a carefully planned media strategy. (NYT)
Of course, he is still probably deceiving others and himself:
“I don’t want to use it as a crutch, but there was no drug testing. I didn’t use it for strength. I used it to help me recover from injuries.”
Sure, he didn't bulk up at all (insert sarcasm icon here).  And he claims he would have probably broken the season HR record without it.  Sure.  Whatever he says.

Still, I have been re-thinking my stance on the steroids boys and the Hall of Fame.  While they cheated and broke the law, the league looked the other way as they needed distractions from the reent labor strife.  And there are plenty of people who got in the Hall despite taking amphetamines, throwing spitballs, and/or taking advantage of segregation.  So, I am not quite as convinced that McGwire, Bonds, and the others should be kept out of the Hall.

I guess one question we can ponder but probably cannot decisively answer is how much of a difference the performance enhancing drugs made.  For Bonds, it seems to have meant that an already HoF-worthy career (several early MVP seasons, a career of blending speed and power) became an astonishing one with record-breaking seasons towards the end.  For McGwire, it might have mean moving from being a one-trick pony (home runs) to being the dominant two-trick pony (plus walks).

Of course, the best way to figure these kinds of things out is to write a 700 page book or so that re-invents the Hall of Fame, a la Bill Simmons (a book I just finished and will review later today).

Oh, and I am still opposed to the admission of Pete Rose.  While PEDs might have been tolerated, gambling on games has not been since the Black Sox scandal, so Rose has only his own demons to blame.

1 comment:

Bill Ayres said...

Another point on Bonds, one nobody every talks about - his "arm protection". An engineer deconstructed it (or a replica thereof) and demonstrated how that jointed armor on his arm, all by itself, adds significant power to his swing when he connects with the ball, because the elbow joint locks, turning the arm into a long lever with the pivot point at the shoulder. Nobody's ever asked whether that "counts" in the HR record total.

Between steroids, bad behavior, and everything else that's gone wrong in sports, I suspect that things like records just don't mean as much as they used to. A few still have the capacity to inspire - but not as many.