Steroids: An Apology

From the World According to Joe Mammy.


You know, I don't mean to be a Mark McGwire defender, it just kinda happens from time to time.  With the Rafael Palmeiro scandal I'd hoped that baseball's steroid problem would be addressed using actual baseball players and not retirees.  So why do people keep going after Mark McGwire?  The most recent entry was an article by writer Darren Rovell where he takes a look at McGwire and steroids (again) while taking aim at his charity work.


To his credit, Rovell's article appears well-written and researched and, in my opinion, aside from trying to manufacture a stir initially actually reflects relatively well on McGwire (whether or not that was intentional, I suppose is a matter of interpretation).  But as I was reading it I had to think "Why do we have to go over this again?" which was quickly followed by "Why is Barry Bonds still seemingly immune from being ‘the bad guy' even though he's going to be the poster child for the steroid era?"


Brian Walton did a nice piece a little while back on the heels of Palmeiro's suspension that I responded to (08/02).  There's an old adage that you will reap what you have sown, so let me step forward as someone who (however dubiously) can be described as a sportswriter/journalist/pundit and say that we have as much to apologize for as anyone.  If we were concerned about fair play, what was good for the game of baseball and the players as human beings we would have said something a long time ago.  We can only claim collective naiveté for so long.  Even as someone who was "just" a fan for most of that period, it's hard to say we didn't see it coming.


Steve Howe, Darryl Strawberry, Ken Caminiti, the infamous amphetamine use of the 60's and 70's and no one from the players, to the owners to the press and the fans thought drug use was a problem?  We chose not to see the problem because we wanted to believe all of it, or there was good money at stake or it helps negotiate a new contract—each group has its reasons.  That being said, why are suddenly skeptics, pundits and moralists flying out of the woodwork?  No one's hands are clean in this mess—including mine, but it's nice to see that suddenly everyone is coming out so strongly against a problem that they could have never, ever been predicted in a million years.


So I'm sorry if all the moral posturing doesn't impress me anymore.  I'm sorry if I have a hard time condemning in retrospect for the problem that we all knew (or should have figured out) was there.  I'm sorry if that means Mark McGwire gets more of a pass from me than Barry Bonds or Rafael Palmeiro and I'm sorry if that seems arbitrary or unfair.  And I'm sorry that I don't care as much as I should but policing the past seems like a waste of time tantamount to moving a beach a grain of sand at a time.  I guess I've just run out of patience with the indictments from those who were just as happy to ignore things when it the going was good.


We're all suckers and none of us are saints.  Either way what's done is done.  Hopefully we've at least learned a little something in the meantime.


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