Jeff Pearlman

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Ban Mark McGwire

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.24.14 AMBud Selig means business. In case you don’t realize Bud Selig means business, he’s letting you know that, dammit, he means business.

That’s why Ryan Braun is gone for the season.

That’s why Alex Rodriguez is banned for 211 games.

Selig is mad and fed up, and he’s not gonna take it any longer. Cheaters can’t be tolerated; must not be tolerated; will never again be tolerated. Those who are caught cheating will be taught a very strong lesson: Crime doesn’t pay.

And yet …

Mark McGwire—arguably the most damaging cheater of them all—has never been punished; has never been suspended; has never faced any sort of ban or condemnation or, well, anything. The man who took one of baseball’s most cherished records (61) and lied to demolish it, remains a figure within the game. After spending three years as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, he now holds that position with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, Mark McGwire, is teaching young people how to rightly swing the bat.

This is laughable.

If Bud Selig is serious about shaming those who robbed the game of its decency, his first step should be to prevent McGwire from ever working for MLB in any capacity—ever. Think about it: What Braun did sucks. What ARod did sucks. What McGwire did, however, was morally criminal. In the process of breaking Babe Ruth’s record, Roger Maris was booed, jeered, threatened, taunted. He lost his hair and much of his weight; took up smoking to calm his shattered nerves. The record wasn’t a mere record. It was an iconic symbol; the number a tribute to a man’s strength and determination and, yes, decency.

McGwire didn’t just mess with that. He ran it over with a truck; slammed it over the skull with a steel bar; said, “To hell with history, to hell with sportsmanship—I will do whatever it takes to eliminate Roger Maris from the record book.” And he did.

Shameful.

To his credit (I suppose), McGwire is likeable and contrite. He has expressed regret and remorse and … and … I don’t care.

Some 3 1/2 decades ago, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were (wrongly) suspended from being involved with baseball by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for their relationships with casinos. It was stupid and shortsighted, but also spoke to the power a commissioner has. Selig, like Kuhn, can use his authority to tag players (and ex-players) as harmful to the sport’s well-being.

This is what he should do to McGwire. And Barry Bonds. And Jose Canseco. And Roger Clemens. Say, “Because you cheated, you are no longer welcome here. You deemed yourself ineligible; you are not worthy.”

Case closed.

  • RobertaK

    Thank you! I’ve been hearing a lot of Giants fans wanting Bonds to come back as hitting coach or special instructor; I don’t want him anywhere near the team.

  • Chris

    From a moral perspective, you are correct. There are many players and ex-players who have escaped the punishment that is now being inflicted on those that have been caught.

    However, from a contractual and/or union perspective, I disagree with your position. Major League Baseball and the player’s union are both at fault here for not creating and enforcing stricter testing and punishments many years ago.

    Unfortunately, players are only subject to the rules that were in effect at the time they were playing. It’s not fair to retroactively punish players for behavior that wasn’t illegal at the time.

    If we allowed this to happen with our laws in society as a whole, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

  • davem

    Jeff,
    Do you think that baseball’s past greats were really clean and wouldn’t taint the sport because they respected the game? Or is it more likely that they weren’t subjected to the scrutiny of modern day testing and the drug testing that modern day athletes endure?

    We know that historical sluggers used corked bats. Chances are, they would have lined up for injections that would have accelerated/prolonged their careers. Yesteryear isn’t some magical place in time that pontificating sports writers can hide.

    Baseball is America’s Tour de France — drugs are engrained in the sport.
    And it’s also just a distraction between football playoffs and spring practice.

  • Doggie

    Seriously, you are such an idiot.

  • ethan

    amen. preach it brother jeff. Couldn’t Selig proclaim “any player who has used roids in the past may not participate in major league baseball anymore nor can they enter the hall.” Using roids is not just a matter of skewing stats – it hurt and perhaps ruined the careers of honest players who valued their long term health.

    • PeteF3

      First of all, Selig has no say over who goes or doesn’t go into the Hall of Fame. The HOF operates outside of MLB. Second of all, no, Selig cannot simply go back on collectively bargained rule enforcement. There is not a single civilized nation on the planet who operates that way under the law, nor is there a single sporting organization on the planet that punishes dopers with a lifetime ban for a first offense.

      I want steroids out of the game too, but I also accept that a.) the game was NEVER “pure”, whether that “purity” was ruined by juice, segregation, or some other external factor which always existed, and b.) no sport is ever going to be purely dope-free. You have to accept that sporting organizations be as thorough as they can within reason, while not allowing perfect to become the enemy of good.

  • Max

    I’m sorry, but what rule did McGwire break?

  • The Hat of the Three-Toed Man-Baby

    What an embarrassing blog entry. Well, it would be if Jeff Pearlman were capable of shame — the fact that he writes things like this is proof he is not. I sincerely hope someone poops in your salad, Jeff.

  • Anthony Nelson

    What unbelievably self righteous crap. I am tremendously tired of sportswriters morally grand-standing on steroids when they kept their heads in the sand throughout the entire process. Why McGwire and not, say, Tony Larussa or Jose Canseco or Bud Selig or anybody else who was present for the whole mess? McGwire didn’t get caught, he is one of the few who has been willing to admit what he did. Sportswriters demand that athletes confess, and then as soon as they do the confession isn’t good enough.

  • Chris

    I agree with the other Chris. The fact of the matter is that Mark McGwire did not cheat because there was no rule in MLB that applied to members of the MLBPA, of which McGwire was a member his whole career, during Mark McGwire’s career prohibiting the use of steroids or other PEDs. The definition of cheating is violating an actual rule of the sport to gain a competitive advantage. Cheating is NOT violating a rule or standard that Jeff Pearlman wished had existed at the time.

  • Linus

    Jeff, you’re a much worse person than Mark McGwire. Put down your pitchfork.

  • ThatGuy22

    Coming from a guy who has pictures of Bonds and Clemens in his masthead and has used unauthorized biographies of steroid users to make a lot of money, this seems a little rich. Setting up your Mcguire biography?

  • jwbiii

    “Jeff Pearlman on November 20, 2009 at 10:54 am said:

    Joe, I was joking. Lighten up, bud. It’s just sports …”

    Take your own advice.

  • http://NBCSPORTS.COM RK

    I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THAT SPORTS WRITERS LIKE YOU ARE ALWAYS DOING THE CRAPPY THING LIKE THOSE SORRY BASTARDS ON TMZ…WHAT CRAP CAN WE DIG UP AGAIN! THIS WHOLE THING IS OVER AND REGUARDLESS OF WHAT SAMMY, MARK, BARRY AND THE OTHERS WHO USED ped’S OR DRUGS WHERE NOT BANNED YET FROM MLB. lET IT GO ALREADY…
    I WAS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER IN THE 80′S AND STERIODS WHERE THE RULE NOT THE EXCEPTION. I NEVER TOOK ANYTHING BUT WHEY PROTIEN AND MUSCLE BUILDER. THAT WAS JUST TO KEEP UP WITH THOSE WHO HAD THE WHOLE PACKAGE AND SIZE. I HAD TO BE STRONGER & QUICKER. WHEN MY COACH SENT ME TO THE TEAM DOC TO GET SCRIPT FOR STERIODS I WAS FLOORED. JUST COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT 80% OF OUR TEAM WAS USING STERIODS. IT WAS THE NORM FOR THAT TIME PERIOD OF 10-15 YEARS.
    AS AN ALTHLETE COLLEGE AND SEMI-PRO OR PRO YOU WILL DO EVERYTING YOU CAN TO FIND THAT EDGE OVER THE COMPETITION.
    Jeff let it go and do some reporting that intrest us sportsmen & women not this past BS. Good Luck

    • Mike

      I think those performance enhancers warped your brain. Try spellcheck, college athlete guy… and stop SHOUTING

  • Crimsolph Wafflefart

    Genius idea! We in society typically think it’s best to retroactively impose punishments on rule breakers when said rules weren’t in place at the time. Kind of like if we suddenly increase the punishment for a crime, we go back and make sure everyone who did the crime before gets this punishment.

    Oh wait…we don’t do that. Because that is what crazy, utterly irrational people think we should do. In McGwire’s time, the punishment for using steroids was to not being allowed to openly talk about it while managers, the media and owners ignored it. Sorry, you don’t get to go back and say “but the punishment should be this!” after the fact.

  • drew

    What about the use of amphetamines? They were just as illegal as steroids or hgh. This is such an asinine, ESPN-talking-head approach to the problem I want to scream.

  • Jingo

    Idiot

  • rutbag

    Hi. My name is Jeff Pearlman and I’m a simple-minded buffoon.

  • http://puremalarkey.com John Kennedy

    I couldn’t agree more with you. The two great home run records, lifetime and single season, have now been horribly and perhaps irrevocably damaged. Cheaters should be banned from any participation in the game.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life