JETS-CHARGERS; MCGWIRE REACTIONS ACROSS THE NATION

January 12, 2010

I’ve been thinking about this game and this stat jumps right out at me. The starting wide-outs for SD, Jackson/Floyd/ and backup Osgood are all 6-5. The Jets CB’s, Sheppard and Revis are 5-10 and 5-11 respectively, and the SS Leonard is 5-8. Do you see the advantage here? Will this be like the Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals? I hope not.
Just to make matters worse for NY, the SD-TE Gates is 6-4, 260.
This will be quite a challenge for the #1 ranked Jets “D,” but remember that Rivers has to be able to get the ball to his receivers for them to be effective.

More on this, as the week goes on….  

Let’s start in Boston at the Globe. Baseball scribe, Bob Hohler said:                                                    
“Ending years of stonewalling, Major League Baseball’s former single-season home run king yesterday joined the sport’s pantheon of performance-enhancing drug users by admitting he spent much of his career ingesting anabolic steroids.
Mark McGwire, conceding he used the drugs in 1998 when he became the first major leaguer to slug 70 home runs, expressed regret for his marquee role in
baseball’s steroid scandal and for concealing the truth from Congress in 2005. He acknowledged using illegal steroids throughout the 1990s, when the game’s hallowed home run records began to topple like dominoes.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,’’ McGwire said in a statement to the Associated Press. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.’’
McGwire, who had avoided the public eye since he dodged direct questions about steroid use in a 2005 congressional hearing, disclosed his transgression as he prepares to return to baseball next month as the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. His 583 career home runs, collected over 16 seasons with the Cardinals and Oakland Athletics before he retired in 2001, place him eighth on the all-time list, tied with Alex Rodriguez, who last year admitted using banned performance-enhancing substances from 2001-03.
“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids,’’ McGwire said. “I had good years when I didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.’’
Criticism of Major League Baseball’s once-lax response to steroid use dates in part to August 1998, when an AP reporter spotted a bottle of
testosterone-producing androstenedione in McGwire’s locker during his record-setting 70-homer season. His feat eclipsed Roger Maris’s home run mark of 61, which had stood since 1961. (Barry Bonds topped McGwire’s record in 2001 with 73 home runs.)
At the time, McGwire publicly denied any wrongdoing, saying, “Everything I’ve done is natural.’’
But privately he knew better.
“I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come,’’ he said yesterday. “It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected.’’
In a tearful interview last night on the MLB Network, McGwire said he called Maris’s widow, Pat Maris, yesterday to confess he used steroids while
breaking her husband’s record.
“I think she was shocked that I called her,’’ he said. “She was disappointed, and she has every right to be.’’
McGwire said he also notified his family, friends, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and St. Louis star Albert Pujols for the first time yesterday about his
steroid use.
Performance enhancers such as androstenedione were banned by the National Football League and International Olympic Committee prior to 1998, but baseball owners and players failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement prohibiting steroid use until 2002.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who in 1998 downplayed McGwire’s use of androstenedione, describing the drug as “a nutritional supplement,’’ yesterday lauded McGwire’s admission.
“I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player,’’ Selig said.
McGwire, a Bunyanesque figure at 6 feet 5 inches and 235 pounds, indicated that he first used steroids between the 1989 and 1990 seasons, when his home run totals rose from 33 to 39 (he set the major league rookie record for homers in 1987 with 49). He said he used steroids again after he missed most of the 1993 season with a heel injury.
He said he believed the drugs would help him heal faster.
McGwire said he could not recall which steroids he used. He said he injected steroids and ingested them orally, generally in low doses, but he denied injecting steroids before games with his former Oakland teammate Jose Canseco, as Canseco alleged in his 2005 book, “Juiced.’’
McGwire said he also experimented with human growth hormone. He offered few other specifics about his drug use, other than to say, “I used [steroids] on
occasion throughout the ’90s, including during the 1998 season.’’
He insisted, however, that steroids did not enhance his home run power. “I was given that gift by the man upstairs,’’ he said.
McGwire said he would have acknowledged his steroid use in the congressional hearing had he been granted immunity from possible prosecution.
“I was ready, willing, and prepared to talk about this,’’ he said on the MLB Network. “I wanted to get this off my chest.’’
But when his lawyers were unable to reach an agreement with congressional leaders, he said, he had little choice but to evade the issue. He repeatedly was
asked to testify under oath about steroids, and said each time, “I’m not here to talk about the past.’’
One of 25 major leaguers who have hit 500 home runs, McGwire is the only one eligible for the Hall of Fame yet to be elected. With his candidacy damaged by suspicions about steroid use, he failed to appear on more than 23.7 percent of the ballots in each of his four years of eligibility, far short of the 75 percent needed to reach Cooperstown.
Several other members of the 500-homer club who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs will become eligible for the Hall in the coming years, including the all-time leader Bonds (762), Sammy Sosa (609), Rafael Palmeiro (569), Manny Ramírez (546), and Gary Sheffield (509).
With the steroid scandal’s taint still in the air, Selig responded to McGwire’s admission by stating that baseball’s crackdown on performance enhancers has made steroid use “virtually nonexistent’’ among major leaguers. He said Major League Baseball also is searching for a valid test for human growth hormone, which has been purchased in recent years by many professional athletes, according to law enforcement investigations.
Meanwhile, new drugs are emerging that will offer athletes opportunities to cheat and avoid detection, according to antidoping specialists. But McGwire said he would offer the same advice about using performance enhancers to any major leaguer.
“It’s the stupidest thing I ever did,’’ he said”

Then to Philadelphia and its Daily News- Bill Conlin wrote:                                                              
“PANDORA’S BOX flew open yesterday, and you better duck, here comes another flock of them.
The little Dutch Boy just pulled his finger out of the dike, and you better swim, here comes the whole damned Zuider Zee.
The big, freckled redhead who told a congressional committee 5 years ago that he was not there to talk about the past when asked if he had ever used
performance-enhancing drugs, one-upped Pandora and the fictional Hero of Haarlem.
Mark McGwire yesterday re-created the past he would not reveal to Congress. He laid it all out brick-by-brick.
He said to the world, “Guilty as charged, your honor.”
McGwire said, in a statement, “Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do 5 years ago. I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have
suspected, I used steroids during my playing career, and I apologize. I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the ’90s, including during the 1998 season . . . ”
I covered parts of his 1998 mano a mano with unindicted conspirator Sammy Sosa, who matched him homer for homer through most of a long, hot summer, a contest many felt at the time helped wash away the lingering taint of the bitter 1994-95 player strike, postseason cancellation and spring-training lockout.
Cal Ripken did his part with a consecutive-games record that outdid Lou Gehrig. McGwire and Sosa did theirs by turning the home-run records of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris into meaningless reels from a choppy black-and-white newsreel.
McGwire hit 70 homers, playing home games in Busch Stadium, a large, all-purpose stadium he turned into a launching pad where no level was unreachable.
When the Cardinals came to play the Phillies in Veterans Stadium, I was doing a call-in radio show with Scott Graham. We wound up doing swing-by-swing
of his batting-practice rounds, describing moonshots that went into areas of the 500 and 600 levels never before reached.
We should have been doing play-by-play of the contents of his locker, where he kept a supplement called androstenedione in plain view. And why not? You could buy what was actually a substance containing anabolic steroids in any health and nutrition store. Baseball had no drug-testing policy. So, what was he hiding?
Not that there weren’t suspicions. Sosa finished 1998 with 66 homers and led the National League with 158 RBI. Five years ago, Sammy’s English, always
passable, suddenly failed him when the honorables in Washington asked the same questions McGwire had stonewalled.
McGwire was always a huge man who had bulked up considerably from the lanky body that produced a rookie-record 49 homers in Oakland. But his gain in thickness and Incredible Hulk power was less conspicuous than Sosa’s explosion from a 180-pound alleys hitter who went from 36 homers in 1997 to 66 a year later and by then had the body of an NFL running back.
In San Francisco, a pretty good hitter named Barry Bonds was suddenly a third banana in a sport that had gone longball happy. And not just longball – if the homer didn’t go upper tank, didn’t come up at least 450 on the ballpark IBM chart, well, shouldn’t they count it as a double? From 1999 to 2001, Barry’s homers went 34, 49, 73, blowing away McGwire. At the same time, he was no-neck and all head.
So what about it, Sammy? Puede decirnos ahora si nunca utilizado esteroides? Can you tell us now if you ever used steroids?
How about you, Barry? Hall of Fame time is right around the corner. Care to talk about the Cream and the Clear?
Yo, Roger . . . Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Allee, allee, all in free . . .
And this to Pete Rose . . . I think maybe the BBWAA voters will keep Mark McGwire out for one more election. Then, I believe they will forgive him and
vote him in, because, guess what, the guy never lied about using steroids. He simply – and relentlessly – refused to talk about the past. But you lied, Pete, until a publisher paid you enough money to give up the truth that you bet on baseball.
Now, it’s all out there. Mark McGwire, the Poster Boy of the Steroid Generation, has come out of the test tube the way those evil things flew from Pandora’s Box, and the baseball world is now a better place.”

On the West coast, Bill Dwyer wrote in the LA Times: “A suggestion for Major League Baseball: When it is time to replace Bud Selig as commissioner, forget
businessmen, lawyers or charismatic leaders. Hire a priest.

Monday was Mark McGwire’s turn in the confessional.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. A lot of those 583 home runs I hit in the major leagues were juiced, like me. The year I hit 70 and broke the cherished
record of Roger Maris, they were all juiced, just like me. I am sorry. I was wrong.

Yawn.

The usual reaction these days is to give the player credit for fessing up and apologizing. There are 37 versions of that right now on MLB.com, which is, of
course, owned by Major League Baseball. And those assessments are fair. It is never easy to stand up in public, where you were once cheered and idolized,
and admit you were a cheater.

But when will the first public apology take place where there is nothing at stake, nothing forcing it except a throbbing conscience?

A-Rod did his mea culpa after he was caught by an enterprising reporter. Andy Pettitte did his to minimize the damage of the Mitchell Report, as his buddy, Roger Clemens, should have. Now, McGwire weighs in with spring training around the corner, his new job as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals at hand and baseball writers circling.

If McGwire wanted the job, which he clearly does, then he had to put all the steroid stuff behind him at some point, and this was the best time. As his manager and friend, Tony La Russa, said earlier Monday in a phone interview, noting that the Cardinals had announced McGwire’s hiring on the Monday before the World Series, “Baseball doesn’t like other news during that time.”

Especially this kind of news.

Now McGwire has said it, done the obligatory one-on-one with Bob Costas, and hopes to move on to undisturbed sunny days of nothing but balls and strikes and a blue Florida sky. If he is smart, he will give a few more interviews on the subject to confirm the sincerity of his apology. He probably even needs to do one of those spring training sit-downs, at a long table with 15 microphones, three dozen tape recorders and a roomful of reporters staring him in the face.

Gradually, it will be over. The sight of McGwire sitting in a dugout, or hanging around the batting cage, will become old hat. Our outrage over such things has been tempered now. We just shrug a lot. We are a nation that forgives, and we are very proud of that. Also, we have had lots of practice. We move so fast to acceptance that the damage along the way is long forgotten.

The excitement of the McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race of 1998, the joy of the fans and rekindled appreciation of baseball, now adds up to millions of
dollars spent on a fraud. Not much can be done now. At least in the Olympics, you have to give back the gold medal.

Steve Trachsel is a 39-year-old pitcher who last worked in the majors in 2008 for the Baltimore Orioles. He had a 16-year career with five teams, won 143
games while losing 159, and is best remembered, whether he wants to be or not, for giving up home run No. 62 to McGwire, the one that broke the Maris
record.

Trachsel’s dad, Roy, of Yorba Linda mused Monday about that home run, a two-iron shot down the left-field line that barely cleared the outfield fence.

“That sure was the shortest of his 70 that year,” Roy Trachsel said, wondering how McGwire had been able to hit a pitch, so low on the plate, with such
power. “We were amazed.”

Probably not any longer.

McGwire’s father, John, for years a well-known dentist in Pomona, may have to recall with sadness now those Claremont Rotary meetings where he would
talk with such pride. Brothers J.J., the bodybuilder, and Dan, the former Seattle Seahawks quarterback, will feel the sting of this, even though they certainly knew.

Some remaining coaches and faculty at Damien High School, where his home runs were legendary, and at USC, where they were the same, will shake their
heads, even though they certainly suspected.

His golfing buddies at Shady Canyon in Irvine, where he effectively disappeared behind the shrubbery for five years, will no longer wonder about those 320-yard drives, even though they probably never did.

And somewhere, Barry Bonds has to be thinking about how to be next.

Now is good. Go for it, Barry. Our hand-wringing, finger-pointing and payback-demanding days are gone. Put it behind you.

The era of steroids in baseball is over. We are on to the era of penitence.”

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