Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McGwire Has Two Strikes in Bawl Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McGwire Has Two Strikes in Bawl Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

Watching an emotional Mark McGwire testify -- or rather, be evasive -- before a congressional panel about steroids in baseball makes you wonder if he was tearing up for the parents whose kids died from steroid use or his own guilt/regret from not being forthcoming about being juiced while he was playing.

I strongly suspect it's a little of both.

If McGwire didn't use steroids, then why didn't he just say so, as Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, and Curt Schilling did? (Though Sosa's admission through his lawyer came across as less believable.) The point is McGwire severely damaged his own credibility and the validity of that 70-homer season in 1998 by refusing to address the issue of his own steroid use. You can bet his non-answers will also damage, if not kill, his Hall of Fame chances with voters.

That benefit of the doubt McGwire received for so long from the media and baseball fans evaporated as he played dodgeball in Congress. Had he admitted using steroids and asked for forgiveness, if that's what truly was eating at him, McGwire's image would no doubt have taken a big hit. But he'd also gain admirers for coming clean under difficult circumstances.

As things stand now, McGwire looks like a torn-up hero retreating from past lies and hiding a dark secret. And as much as McGwire despises Jose Canseco for his tell-all book, you have to wonder if his anger is because Canseco's version has a ring of truth to it. . . .

If baseball wants to do the right thing, it will establish a steroids policy that adopts the game's credo -- three strikes and you're out. A fair punishment would be a 30-day suspension for the first offense, one year for the second and a permanent ban for the third. But it's doubtful the players, even the innocent ones, will have the guts to implement it. …

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