Joe Sheehan does it again, in his theoretical Hall of Fame ballot. Again, I tread lightly, as this is a Premium Content article, but it’s so damn goo-o-o-od:
…. McGwire is going to be denied election this year for one reason, and one reason only: his appearance in front of Congress in March of 2005. He didn’t grandstand the way players such as Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling did. He didn’t admit guilt and beg forgiveness the way many people wish he had. He didn’t stand defiant of a Congressional committee less interested in public policy than in positive press for threatening people—major-league baseball players—who could cost it few votes and little money and who would be unlikely to publicly point out the cynicism and bullying rampant in the process.
…. He didn’t feed the beast. McGwire refused to participate in the dog-and-pony show by parroting the acceptable lines or by making himself a cautionary tale. He made perhaps the most accurate statement of the day: “Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem.”
Since that day, McGwire has been held in contempt by the baseball media. The numbers we’re seeing today—an ESPN poll indicates that he will receive approximately 25 percent of the vote in this year’s balloting—are the direct result of that day in Congress. The voters have decided, based on the flimsiest of evidence, that McGwire not only took steroids, but that those steroids were responsible for his achievements, and that the connection between the two voids his claim to greatness.
Will Carroll has pointed this out, but it’s worth bringing up again: how can McGwire be so vilified for steroid use that has never come close to being proven, while Shawne Merriman is perhaps the most celebrated defensive player in the NFL during the same season in which he tested positive for steroids? The hypocrisy in the coverage of steroids in sports has never been so evident as it is today, the gulf between the media’s handling of MLB and the NFL wide enough to drive the truth through.
…. The steroids-in-sports story is an embarrassment to the American sports media. The shaming of Mark McGwire is just another point of evidence that this is really about creating a story, rather than covering it.
I try and try, but never seem to put my words together with such eloquence.