WHO DO YOU BELIEVE: MARK MCGWIRE, TONY LA RUSSA OR JOSE CANSECO?

                                  Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

It’s hard to believe, but is there anyone in baseball who has more credibility in this whole steroids debacle than Jose Canseco? Mark McGwire, with the help of Ari Fleischer and his publicity group (according to some reports), decided to finally admit what virtually everbody believed: that he used steroids during his major league career. Of course, McGwire HAD to do something before he shows up in a few weeks to be the Cardinals hitting coach. Showing up with Bob Costas of MLB Network for an interview, perhaps McGwire and his group actually believed they could give what amounts to a partial apology (essentially, I used steroids but I don’t think it helped me hit home runs) and end the media fascination with his home run totals.

Of course, they were totally wrong.

After losing his composure and crying with Costas, McGwire appeared the next day with Bob Ley on ESPN and seemed like a different person. He had what looked like a forced smile (bizarre) as he went over much of the same stuff with Ley but, not surprisingly, people are focusing on his belief (and, hey, maybe he really does believe it) that steroids did not help him hit homers.

Nobody except his staunchest supporters gives his statements much believability.

Interestingly, within a day of McGwire talking about his “strong mind” and how that was one of the key components in hitting so many home runs, Tony La Russa went on Baseball Tonight via phone and essentially said the same thing, stating how tough McGwire was mentally, how he worked so hard and how, at both Oakland and St. Louis, La Russa had run a “legitimate” program (he sounded more like an NCAA basketball coach under investigation).

IS THERE NO MANAGER WHO KNEW?

La Russa said that, until McGwire called him this past Monday and told him, he (La Russa) had no idea that Mark McGwire had ever taken steroids.

Is that believable?

But all La Russa was doing was taking a page from the late 20th/early 21st century manager’s book; that is, I didn’t know anything at any time until everybody else did. Joe Torre has already used this in his capacity as both Yankees manager and Dodgers manager.

But what would you expect? Do you expect a Hall of Fame candidate manager to admit anything other than a vague “well, some guys did look bigger?”

That’s not realistic.

WHAT DOES JOSE CANSECO SAY?

Here’s a quote from Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced, talking about Mark McGwire and his Oakland A’s teammate, Jason Giambi:

As soon as I rejoined the team for the 1997 season, I was amazed to see how open and casual these two [Giambi and McGwire] were about steroids. Sometimes, the three of us would go into the bathrooms stalls together to shoot up steroids or growth hormone. I would inject myself, and Giambi and McGwire would be one stall over, injecting each other. Other times, I preferred to inject myself at home, but those two always did it at the ballpark, because it was easier that way and they knew they had nothing to worry about. Plus, they were having all kinds of fun injecting.

The three of us talked about steroids all the time that year, right in front of everybody.

By 1997, in front of everyone but the media, it was completely accepted that we would talk openly about steroids.

Juiced, pp. 169-70 (2005), copyrighted by Jose Canseco.

Here’s another quote from the book about what steroids do for your confidence;

The psychological effect of steroids is very dramatic. Using steroids properly can do wonders for your confidence. You look good. You’re big and strong. McGwire was a twitching mass of muscle, and he had great technique. If that combination doesn’t make you feel confident, I don’t know what will.

The mind is a very powerful thing; if you convince yourself that you’re a great player, and you have the basic ability, you’re going to be a great player. You can have the perfect body for baseball and perfect ability, but if your brain is telling you “You have no chance!” you’re not going to be successful. For Mark, steroids help send his confidence level sky-high.

Juiced, pp. 75-6 (2005), copyrighted by Jose Canseco.

When asked by Bob Ley earlier this week about Jose Canseco’s accusations that they had injected each other at Oakland, etc., McGwire said that “he won’t stoop” to Canseco’s level. What does that mean? Canseco had a good response, essentially saying that McGwire can’t stoop to his level because he [Canseco] is where McGwire can’t go – the truth.

Ouch!!

It was also bizarre that McGwire told Bob Costas that he didn’t want to be “Lou Ferrigno or Arnold Schwarzenegger.” But that’s exactly who he looked like.

Just take a look at the before and after pictures. It’s scary.

WHERE’S BUD SELIG IN ALL OF THIS?

Bud Selig took this opportunity to, essentially, welcome McGwire back into the fold and also to state that the steroids era is over.

Who believes that?

The reality is there is still no test for human growth hormone and, for all we know, there are other things that players can use that can’t be detected by the present testing. We’ve seen this in cycling, in the Olympics, in track and field, etc. – the bad guys are usually ahead of the good guys.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Well, Mark McGwire had to do something after, essentially, disappearing for five years (and while this writer is one lawyer who agrees that, while he shouldn’t have incriminated himself before Congress during that debacle of an appearance, he should have spoken up after the statute of limitations had run, about four years ago), he simply wasn’t prepared to say what most want to hear: I did it, I’m sorry and yes, it helped me hit homers.

By denying the last thing mentioned above (essentially, my strong mind helped me, not the steroids), McGwire made himself fodder for jokes. He could have done a much better job but, at least, he finally admitted the truth: that he did steroids. This won’t end the story: he will probably be the butt of a lot of jokes at a lot of ball parks this season.

Another great stain on baseball.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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