Say it aint so, Mac

There have been plenty of critics regarding the congressional hearings into baseball's steroid scandal as unnecessary. Be that as it may, I was intrigued by some of the testimony that I heard today as I worked out (steroid free!) on the rowing machine at my gym.

First of all, I don't know Jose Canseco. I remember detesting him in the late 1980s because the A's were so damn good. The guy doesn't have many fans in this world right now, and that may be deserved. Most people agree that his book and allegations are motivated by a greed of money (as if the majority of baseball players and owners don't somehow share this greed!) Maybe some of the allegations in his book are untrue. How am I supposed to judge; based on his past actions? I don't know him well enough. However, it seems to me that in this whole debacle, Canseco is one of the few people, along with Jeremy Giambi, that are being remotely honest, at least about themselves.

Mark McGwire today strongly rejected the idea of "ratting" on his teammates and friends by naming names. Noble. However, he flatly refused on a number of occasions to deny that he took steroids. This, in my mind, is tantamount to an admission of guilt. When asked directly by congresspeople, McGwire continued to use his canned answer that "he would not talk about the past." Pathetic. Either deny that you took them, or stand up like a man and admit it. What's the matter, Mark, are you too worried about tarnishing your reputation? Who's the one motivated by money? Too worried about admitting that you took illegal performance enhancing drugs because it might be a bad influence on young people? That hardly flies in my book. Admitting that you were wrong, and working to change the system and being honest about the whole ordeal would be an example worthy of a true hero.

Then we have Sammy Sosa, who categorically denied that he has ever taken steroids. Does this man have any credibility left? Here is a man that was caught red-handed at cheating (and, yes, even if the cork was unintentional, it was still cheating. Just like, even if Barry Bonds didn't know he was taking steroids, it was still cheating.) Also, I remember several years back when Sosa stormed off of an ESPN set when challenged to take a urine test on the spot. Today, Palmero and Schilling said that players have nothing to fear from a tough drug test if they are clean. Well, what did Sosa fear a couple of seasons ago? Sure, players should not be subject to random tests on sports shows. However, that was a clear opportunity to make a strong statement against steroids in front of a national audience. Instead, he gave the impression of guilt, secrecy and bull-headedness.

Don't even get me started on Barry Bonds. He wasn't at the testimony today, but it would have been interesting hearing how he interacted with Congress. Barry often suggests that the criticism he receives is racial. Please! Bonds has said that his records shouldn't be asterisked because there was no MLB policy against sterroids prior to this year. Well, Barry, what about the U.S. law that prohibits the use of unprescribed steroids. I know MLB has an antitrust exemption, but don't the rest of the laws of the land, especially the criminal ones, apply to baseball players?

Really, I don't think most people are surprised to learn about the use of steroids in baseball, or any other professional sport. I don't even think that the majority of people are unwilling to forgive the fact that some players used these drugs. However, by continuing to evade the questions, implement soft drug policies and maintain a hostile attitude to anyone questioning them, players are sliding down a slippery slope and losing the little credibility they had regained after the last labor dispute.

As usual, I will follow baseball from a safe distance this season. The game has lost much of its luster to me over the years. As a young child, I loved baseball, both playing and watching. Now, I just count down the months until football starts. (Of course, if by some miracle the Pirates succeed this year, I will be right there watching them!)


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