Friday, March 18, 2005

That Was Then, This Is Now: Columnists Skewer McGwire For Doing The Steroid Shuffle

Mark McGwire rightfully deserves all the scorn being heaped on him for yesterday's gutless appearance before the Congressional committee investigating steroids in baseball. He wouldn't say it ain't so. In fact, he said nothing much in between his crocodile tears. Watch the price on his rookie card plunge ever so fast.
Still, it's hard to watch our heroes take a fall. Even the surliest of sports columnists take a break from kicking a guy when he's down every now and then. Then there are the writers from the hometown papers who don't want to be flamed by furious fans and will keep the kid gloves on. They're gutless wonders in their own right.
Fortunately, Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch steered clear of that path today.

[A]ll McGwire gave us were counterfeit tears and a rehearsed nondenial denial that would have embarrassed Dick Nixon.

McGwire first started launching taters for the Oakland A's, where the hometown Tribune's Monte Poole refrained from ripping into McGwire mano a mano. Instead, he took on the baseball establishment, which is arguably more deserving of a trip to the woodshed.

As for the executives summoned, well, they performed as expected. The folks who went after Pete Rose with considerably more fervor than they went after steroids not only will debate the color of the sky but also whether there is such a thing as the sky.

The knives were sharpened across the Bay at the San Francisco Chronicle, where Gwen Knapp didn't hesitate to call McGwire a coward.

[T]he beloved giant redhead who happily scooped up his son at home plate is gone. He didn't vanish because of the very strong probability that he took steroids that season. He disappeared because, as a heroic figure, he never really existed.

McGwire was credited, along with Sammy Sosa, for ushering in a new era of good feeling in baseball back in 1998 when they chased and passed Roger Maris' home run mark and erased the lasting sting left over from when a strike wiped out the 1994 season. His silence on Thursday put most baseball fans right back where we started. Forget asterisks. How about an eraser instead?

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