Pearlman on McGwire

Jeff Pearlman brings the Mark McGwire sanctimony:

Worst of all, however, McGwire was a baseball thief. At the very moment his 341-foot home run landed behind the outfield fence, he robbed Roger Maris of the most important record in professional sports. He robbed the Maris family of future income from 61-related merchandising and events. He robbed the Hall of Fame — which swooped up McGwire memorabilia as if it were free Twinkies — of its credibility, he robbed those fans who spent hundreds of dollars for a ticket in order to witness history and he robbed thousands upon thousands of kids of a seemingly genuine role model.

If the baseball record book is the sport’s Holy Bible, than McGwire is a 3-year old armed with a permanent marker. The damage is not merely done — it is un-erasable. (Of course, along by such analogous measures, Barry Bonds is a 3-year-old with a permanent marker, a torch and a vat of gasoline).

Pearlman often writes how disgusted he is with what baseball has become. I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t had such a ridiculously idealistic notion of what it was in the first place, he never would have crashed so hard to begin with.


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YankeesfanLen
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YankeesfanLen

Having just finished “True Compass” I can state that both Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds are just misunderstood pillars of baseball, just a little misunderstood that 511 pages can easily explain.
But I’m too bored to hear it again, so me and ARod will concentrate on the here and now.

Matt M
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Matt M

Wait, you mean baseball wasn’t more pure when only white guys were allowed to play and gamblers could buy the World Series?

MikeLavalliereDiet
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MikeLavalliereDiet
“I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t had such a ridiculously idealistic notion of what it was in the first place, he never would have crashed so hard to begin with.” Perfectly said. The use of the Bible as an analog is indicative of the flawed thinking of people like Pearlman. The Bible was written a long time ago and is basically unchanged after the “sequel” (ignoring for the moment different versions of the text). The baseball record book is a dynamic entity.  If was not set in stone, waiting to be marred by the bad, bad men… Read more »
Mike H
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Mike H
I simply do not understand what all the fuss is over McGwire.  At no time, proven or suspected has anyone shown that he did anything illegal. He did what others did, that was considered state of the art supplemental diet and training aid. He hit more home runs in less time than anyone in the history of the game. (my guess not proven). I paid to watch him play and I’ll pay to watch him coach.  While I will never dismiss the 61 home runs hit by Maris as being less than a grand record of it’s time, the year… Read more »
Ted
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Ted

I was at Busch when McGwire hit 60 and then 66 to take the lead back from Sosa. Those were some of the best games I have ever been too.

McGwire did not rob me of anything. The Cardinals were awful that season and yet I had to watch every game because he was entertainment, which is what baseball is all about anyway.

Simon DelMonte
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Simon DelMonte

I have one word: Andro.  We knew about the Andro when the great home run chase was going on.  And we all pretty much dismissed it.  We knew what he was when we loved him.  We didn’t care.

Maybe we were all idiots back in ‘98.  But McGwire and Sosa and MLB gave us what we wanted: dingers, and lots of ‘em.  McGwire took nothing from us that we didn’t give willingly.

Never mind that part of baseball’s problem these days is that the record book is treated like it’s sacred.  It’s just a game, Mr. Pearlman.

MikeLavalliereDiet
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MikeLavalliereDiet

Another problem is that I don’t see the jump from preventing the Maris family from selling “61” coffee mugs to defacing holy texts.  I understand hyperbole, but Pearlman is a sloppy writer.

Michael
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Michael

Jeff Pearlman’s only regret is that the guy who called Selena Roberts didn’t call him.

Dude makes his living being a mean-spirited ass.

Erik
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Erik

It does amaze me how many people who report on baseball really don’t enjoy it at all. I mean, your job is to follow the goings-on of a sport … and you hate doing it? I mean, not that I’m complaining, but to dislike your job so much as to try publicity suck the joy other people might get out of it is downright deplorable.

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
I can say now that I don’t care what McGwire did while he played, but to be honest when he went in front of congress and made an ass of himself a little piece of my baseball soul died that day.  Big Mac (and Canseco) were the reasons I started watching baseball in the first place (I was 7 in ‘89, that World Series is my oldest memory of baseball).  But, to be as old as I am now (or to be Pearlman’s age) and still have this view of the game it tells me that he never really liked… Read more »
Jacob
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Jacob

@ Michael – “Dude makes his living being a mean-spirited ass.”

Well said.

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone

Oh and by the way, i seriously doubt that ANDRO was the only thing McGwire was doing.  Big Mac’s brother is (and has been) a personal trainer here in SoCal for 20+ years, and, uh, yeah ANDRO is not the only thing that guys associated with.  Mac is still one of my all-time favorite players, but this assumption that all he ever did was ANDRO is extremely naive, if not ignorant.

Matt Aux
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Matt Aux

That first line made me immediately imagine McGwire wearing a Hamburgler outfit while laughing hysterically as he raids the Rawlings factory.

michael standish
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michael standish

Anyone with the slightest shred of decency would alert Jeff Pearlman to the fact that a moronic psychopath has been signing his name to some deeply weird comments.

Mike F
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Mike F

If we are going to start talking about the sanctity of baseball records, lets call out Misters Ruth, Maris and Aaron for robbing Ned Williams (27 Homeruns in 1884) and Roger Connor (196 from 1880-97) of their records with a league approved! juiced baseball.

I mean if it’s a Holy Bible then any change is evil.

kendynamo
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kendynamo

i think its pretty obvious that steroids made baseball more exciting.  i understand in the long run why you want to remove them from the game but but people like mcgwire et al did not immoral except sacrifice their health to entertain sports fans.  oh boo hoo, roger maris’ family doesnt get moeny off the number 61?  so what makes roger maris’ family so special?  and where does perelman draw the line anyway?  what if maris drank, smoked tobacco and cursed and cheated on his wife? is that better or worse than taking HGH?

Grant
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Grant

Wait. Can we get together on which broken record was more sacred? I thought it was Aaron’s record, and that Bonds was the defiler. Now I’m hearing that it was Maris’ and McGwire was the ruiner.

Let’s call Cy Young’s wins the most sacred record. That’ll never get broken.

Chipmaker
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Chipmaker

When Pearlman decides to, effectively, turn his gorge onto his own fraternity, the writers who have locker room access, see the players’ physiques, pick up some of the buzz, made jokes with players like Piazza about exactly what he was doing, were staring a Woodward-Bernstein class Pulitzer for sports writing in the face, and did NOTHING about it, then he might write something worth reading.

There’s plenty of mud to be slung onto all parties, and one party is still without stain.

I won’t click through to the original column.

Funzo
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Funzo

@Grant: For me, it’s Mark Reynolds’ single-season strikeout record. Curse that Mark Reynolds for breaking it!

fordprefect
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fordprefect

For Jeff Pearlman:

Who cares?

yg bluig
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yg bluig
@ Mike H, “I paid to watch him play and I’ll pay to watch him coach. ” Dude, you’ll pay money to go to the park to watch him be a batting coach? Really? What does a batting coach do during the game that is worth paying to see. All you’ll be able to see from the stands is him spitting sunflower seeds and nodding approvingly to everything LaRussa says. Actually, McGwire’s contributions at that Congressional hearing are best remembered but of all the people there, he was actually the most ethical one there. He basically took the 5th Amendment… Read more »
DSFC
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DSFC

Ahhhhh, the good ol’ days, when the alltime hit king was a violent, racist lunatic rather than a pathetic degenerate gambler.

kilroy1234
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kilroy1234
Perlman’s rantings aside, the problem with steroids in the game is that it takes average players like McGuire and turns them into superstars. Unlike other great athletes, his ‘greatness’ came after age 30. Comparing his 30 and under stats to his 31 and over stats, he hit an additional 165 HR (238 vs 403) in only 40 additional AB (3342 vs 3385). He never had an OPS over 1.000 for a 100+ game season until age 31 & then only had 1 season under 1.000 after that. The top 5 HR list for age 31 and after highlights the issue.… Read more »
Alex K
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Alex K

kilroy1234- Rose hasn’t been kept out for cheating. He’s been kept out for gambling.

sansho1
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sansho1

Pearlman should be showing up any time now to defend himself.  A few years ago on my 25-hits-per-day blog I criticized something he wrote, and he took the time to fire off a dismissive comment.  Man’s a self-Googler.

kilroy1234
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kilroy1234
Alex K – cheating is defined as using artificial means to influence the outcome of the game or a performance by either artificially improving your performance or weakening your opponents. This causes fans to question the integrity of the game/performance because it is impossible to tell if same result would occur without the cheating. Since fans pay to see athletes perform, not cheaters cheat, if this goes on long enough they lose interest and stop watching/attending the game. Gambling on baseball is banned for the same reason. The outcome of the game is determined via artificial means and fans can’t… Read more »
Alex K
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Alex K

Gambling and steroids are not the same thing.

Trying to fix the outcome of the game and taking substances that may or may not help your performance will never be equal.

kilroy1234
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kilroy1234
Gambling and steroids are the same issue. Nobody ever accused Rose of fixing a game, simply betting on the game. However, once the betting is there people question if the game has been fixed. Once roids are in everyone questions who is taking them and who isn’t, whose performance is real and whose is chemically induced. Since when have roids NOT improved a performance? There is no question that performance enhancing drugs significantly enhance performance. McGuire doesn’t do roids and he simply becomes another guy with a great rookie year that never panned out. Again the game is supposed be… Read more »
Alex K
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Alex K

Are spit balls and scuff balls the same as gambling? They are also trying to gain an advantage.

Can you name every player that took PED’s? How do you know if they improved their performance? I’m not saying that steroids do nothing, I’m just not going to paint every steroid user with the same brush.

MJ
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MJ

McGuire doesn’t do roids and he simply becomes another guy with a great rookie year that never panned out.

You really need to stop alluding to things like this, as you couldn’t be more wrong.  Here are his stats.  Career 162 OPS+ hitter, only two years below 129 and one was his last year.  The guy was a great hitter with a triple slash of .263/.394/.588. 

Unless you are assuming he took steroids for his entire career, of which there is no proof, stop saying that he was an average hitter.

opie
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opie
so, pearlman writes a book about what a hoot the drug taking, cheating,  violent, drunken ‘86 Mets were…a celebration, really. and, he writes a book about what a cheating cocksucker barry bonds is/was… and, now, he’s down on Mac. i don’t find a continuous thread of well considered, rational opinion tying the three of these topics together.  is it possible that pearlman’s one of those guys who like to hear himself talk so much that it really doesn’t occur to him that reflection’s a necessary thing…when you write for a living…so that you’re presenting some sort of coherent viewpoint? without… Read more »
kilroy1234
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kilroy1234
MJ – please go back and read my previous post about pre age 30 and post age 30 performance. You can’t use his roid numbers to justify he was great player with or without roids. His post age 30 numbers are significantly better than his under 30 numbers which is a pretty clear sign of performance enhancing drugs since without them athlete’s performance declines with age. If you use his career PA and average his age 30 & under (prime of an athlete’s career) performance numbers to calculate non-roid career numbers you get a line of 0.258/0.372/0.524 with only 455… Read more »
MJ
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MJ
MJ – please go back and read my previous post about pre age 30 and post age 30 performance. You can’t use his roid numbers to justify he was great player with or without roids. His post age 30 numbers are significantly better than his under 30 numbers which is a pretty clear sign of performance enhancing drugs since without them athlete’s performance declines with age. If you use his career PA and average his age 30 & under (prime of an athlete’s career) performance numbers to calculate non-roid career numbers you get a line of 0.258/0.372/0.524 with only 455… Read more »
Kilroy1234
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Kilroy1234
MJ – Wonderful job finding excellent examples to prove my point. These numbers are the averages for ba/obp/slg/ops for each player from the age they started playing thru age 30 and from age 31 thru their last year (B-ref has some cool functionality that made this very easy) Killebrew: 30 & before: 0.263/0.371/0.535/0.906 31 & after   : 0.247/0.381/0.478/0.859 Aaron: 30 & before: 0.320/0.376/0.567/0.943 31 & after   : 0.288/0.371/0.540/0.912 McCovey: 30 & before: 0.278/0.370/0.537/0.907 31 & after   : 0.262/0.378/0.494/0.872 McGuire: 30 & before: 0.250/0.362/0.507/0.869 31 & after   :0.278/0.430/0.683/1.113 Gee, wonder which of the above players used roids?… Read more »
Alex K
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Alex K

Just to be clear you think that doctoring the ball, steroids, and gambling are all equals?

Diesel
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Diesel
@ Kilroy Anyone defies the effects of aging and starts posting consistently improved numbers year over year after age 30 is almost certainly using PED. This statement simply cannot be made with any authority or sincerity, because it’s completely unfalsifiable. If you wish to be taken seriously, it’s best not to make outlandish general statements such as that (I’m not saying this as an insult so much as a person who once almost daily made statements like these about baseball, and then realized that stating incorrect things unequivocally is much worse than being wrong in the first place). Let’s say… Read more »
Alex K
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Alex K

My entire point was that gambling is worse than steroids. And they are not even remotely similar.

kilroy1234
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kilroy1234

Diesel – I found a variety of great players, with exceptional careers after 30, that prove my point. Let me know when you find a single person that played more than 1 or 2 years after 30 that proves yours. Let me know how many players you find that improve their power number by 30%+ as they get older.

Alex – all are forms of cheating, but obviously doctoring the ball is less important. Is your point that steroids isn’t cheating?

Diesel
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Diesel

My familiarity with the wisdom of Oscar Wilde prevents me from engaging you further. I encourage you to read him as well, Kilroy.

Alex K
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Alex K
The 1919 Black Sox called, they want to explain the impact on the outcome that gambling can have. To me, steroids are the same as doctoring the ball. They give you whatever advantage they can, but they won’t turn anyone into a better baseball player. Maybe you will hit the ball further, and throw a little harder but they will not enhance skill. Steroids are not going to turn Gabe Kapler into Mickey Mantle.  It seems clear that neither on of us is going to change their minds on the subject. I think it’s time to say nice discussion, and… Read more »
kilroy1234
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kilroy1234

Diesel – I’m glad you found my argument convincing, hopefully you didn’t find it vulgar.

Alex K – Why is gambling worse than steroids? Betting on a game has no impact on the outcome. Steroid use obviously has an impact on the games, in the favor of the cheater.

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