Monday, January 11, 2010

Mark McGwire Should've Listened To Mr. T

So as many of you probably know by now, Mark McGwire decided to come out of the closet today. No, not the closet that Tom Cruise is in. McGwire decided to come clean, so to speak, about his use of steroids during his baseball career, ending many years of speculation.

In 15 years in the major leagues, McGwire was one of the best power hitters of his generation, finishing his career with 583 HR, including a then-record 70 HR in 1998.

However, that season and numerous other seasons in the '90s must now be discounted because McGwire admitted to using steroids during most of that decade.

If you recall, McGwire hit 49 HR as a rookie in 1987 (he hit three HR during a brief callup in September 1986). At the time, the Bash Brother looked like this:

McGwire admitted that he began using steroids during the winter between the 1989 and 1990 baseball seasons and continued to use them throughout the 1990s, including his record-setting 1998 campaign. He hit 245 HR in the four-year period between 1996 and 1999.

During that four-year stretch, McGwire looked like this:

If McGwire was going for the He-Man look, he should have just said "By The Power of Grayskull" and his transformation would have been instantaneous and would not have generated controversy. No steroids would have been needed in this case.

However, he decided to have his Wheaties with some juice and now he's paying the price. Studious Metsimus believes he will NEVER be voted into the Hall of Fame now. Admission of guilt will just cause the voters to consider his numbers that were not fueled by steroids (i.e. the numbers that are not sponsored by the letters "H" and "R").

Consider this. McGwire finished his career with 583 HR. However, he only picked up 1,626 hits and scored 1,167 runs in his 15 years in the big leagues. That means, he barely had over 1,000 hits that were not home runs and only scored 584 runs when he didn't drive himself in. Also, as hard as it is to believe, McGwire never hit more than 28 doubles in a single season.

Compare that to Fred McGriff's stats. McGriff collected 2,490 career hits, of which 493 left the yard. He was only three hits short of picking up 2,000 hits that were not home runs. He also scored 1,349 runs, meaning he scored 856 times when he didn't drive himself in. McGriff hit .284 over his career, as opposed to Big Mac's .263 lifetime average.

So why am I bringing up Fred McGriff? Because in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, the Crime Dog received 116 votes, or 21.5%. McGwire "earned" 12 more votes than McGriff did (128 votes; 23.7%), although McGriff clearly was a more complete player than McGwire was. More importantly, there is no cloud of steroids hanging over McGriff while there has been a decade-long thunderstorm over Mt. McGwire.

So what does all this have to do with Mr. T? After all, he is mentioned in the title of this blog. Well, from 1983-1986, during the height of Mr. T's popularity, he was the star of his own Saturday morning cartoon.

Each show ended with some random bad guy being caught and a lesson being learned. Basically, everything was either "stay in school" or "don't do drugs". Unfortunately, the show went off the air before Mark McGwire came up to the big leagues.

Had the show been on the air for one more season, perhaps McGwire would have known that taking steroids does nothing but inflate your head, not your production. Sure, he hit a few extra homers, but his reputation took a hit as well, one that might never be fully repaired, even with his return to baseball as the Cardinals' hitting coach.

Mark McGwire cheated himself and baseball fans when he took steroids in an attempt to "heal faster". Even with his admission, it will take more than steroids to heal this wound.

The power of Grayskull tempted him, but he should have known that we'd pity any fool who felt the need to take drugs.

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