Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rocker, McLain Disagree; Ex-Brave Liked Steroid Era, but Ex-Tigers Star Says Game Didn't Need It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rocker, McLain Disagree; Ex-Brave Liked Steroid Era, but Ex-Tigers Star Says Game Didn't Need It

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Elliott

Two big names from baseball's past made their way to the Baseball Grounds Saturday night to hype their autobiographies and talk baseball with any of a large throng of Suns fans on hand to watch their game with the Mobile BayBears.

But with rain forcing the cancellation of the game - the teams will play a pair of 7-inning contests on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m. - John Rocker and Denny McLain had the spotlight to themselves. They were seated at adjacent tables but that proximity was a far cry from the distance between the two with regards to some of their thoughts on the game of baseball today.

John Rocker pitched in what has become known as the steroid era, about a 12-year span from the early 90s to the mid 2000s. He's genuinely convinced that the game was more entertaining back then "when the guys were getting a little help." Help as in the use of steroids.

"When you look at baseball attendance, when you look at the home run chase with [Mark] McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa back in '98, that was exciting," said the former Braves pitcher. "I remember when Mark would come to [Atlanta], there would be 30,000 people there just to watch batting practice. Baseball was pretty happy back then. People still tell me that they were disgruntled from the strike in '94, but that it was the home run chase of '98 that excitement got them back interested in baseball again."

"People want to see a clown like me bring a fastball up there at 100-plus miles per hour and some big gorilla like Mark McGwire turn around and hit it 500 feet. They want to see the ooohs and ahhhs and the spectacular, that's entertainment. That's the reason they're paying $125 a ticket."

Denny McLain is not buying that line of thinking. In 1968 McLain became the last 30-game winner in baseball when he compiled a 31-6 mark for the Tigers. …

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