Monday, November 2, 2009

Outrage for Profit!

Recently, former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire was named the new hitting coach of his former team. Even more recently, Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman took it upon himself to be the voice of tired anger.
A little background: McGwire was briefly the holder of the single season home run record. He was probably on massive amounts of beef 'roids while he did it. He has summoned to Congress for a dog and pony show. He didn't say anything about his steroid usage. He moved to a deserted island somewhere for years and hasn't even made a public appearance following the announcement of his recent hiring.
Jeff Pearlman is a guy who writes books about the moral depravity of athletes. He wrote The Bad Guys Who Won about the 1986 Mets, Boys Will Be Boys about the Barry Switzer Dallas Cowboys (sensing a theme?), and two books on steroid users: Love Me, Hate Me about Barry Bonds, and The Rocket That Fell to Earth about Roger Clemens. Each of these books is basically the written equivalent of a school marm lecturing you about skipping class.
So it comes as no surprise that Pearlman is tsk-tsking the hiring of McGwire as a hitting coach. He implies that McGwire had no talent beyond the strength the steroids provided.
His courage and strength were mirages. His greatness, well, very artificial.
That, of course, ignores the fact that McGwire likely didn't use performance enhancing drugs before entering the Major Leagues and that he led rookies in home runs when he was had the body frame of a mortal. I wonder if Pearlman thinks even he could be a big league hitter giving the right prescription.
McGwire is back in the baseball fold; back to teach today's ballplayers how to (egad) succeed the same way he did; back to offer wisdom.
Holy cats, I think he does believe that.
McGwire is joining the Cardinals to be the hitting coach, not open up a pharmacy. McGwire has already provided personal hitting instruction to various Major League hitters including Skip Schumaker, who passes the "eye test." (If Pearlman doesn't have to say "allegedly," then I can determine if a player uses PEDs by looking at them.)
McGwire isn't going to play in the field. What was done in the past is done. It can't change as much as Pearlman and the old fogey writers he apes want it to change. All the whining about the "Holy Bible" of baseball being the record book is ridiculous. The Taliban think Pearlman is too hung up on one book.
The real reason he has to kick and scream like a sweet sixteenager without The Fray performing at her party is because he needs that outrage. He needs as many people wary against shadowy enemies because that moral outrage is what moves his books. Because it isn't about steriods to him. It's about an arbitrary standard of good and evil. To him, you have to win the "right" way or not win at all. Just ask the 1986 Mets.
McGwire's rookie card provided by

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