Reaction from players, writers, and others around baseball on Mark McGwire’s admission yesterday (see McGwire’s interview with MLB-TV above) that he used steroids and human growth hormone as a player, including the 1998 season, when he hit a then-record 70 home runs:
“The so-called ’steroid era’ — a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances — is clearly a thing of the past, and Mark’s admission today is another step in the right direction.” — Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
“I can’t excuse the fact that players did this. They took performance-enhancing drugs to enhance their numbers and make more money. And they did it and made more money and enhanced their numbers. It bothers me that we always talk about those guys, and we seem to forget about the guys who didn’t cheat. They get penalized twice. They don’t make as much money, and when it comes to the Hall of Fame, their numbers are going to pale in comparison to the other guys.” — Hall of Famer and broadcaster Joe Morgan.
“McGwire may actually believe steroids did not help him perform better, but why all the anguish, embarrassment and tears then? All for drugs that were simply about just getting himself back on the field? So much shame for that? And if they were only for “health purposes” why did he keep using them when he admitted he broke down in 1993 and 1994 while using them and, as many suspected, were actually causing what have been known to be steroid-related injuries? Why was he hitting balls to places no man ever reached before, himself included, and at a frequency nobody had ever seen before? It couldn’t have been the steroids. No, of course not.” — Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.
“Can he really believe that the steroids he took had nothing to do with those 70 home run trots he made that summer? Wow. Has he really convinced himself there wasn’t the slightest connection between the drugs he took and the baseballs he kept mashing off distant scoreboards and innocent skyscrapers? Whew. Come on, Mark. Can you really have been that naive? Can you really still be that naive?” — ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
“There were probably guys back then — in late 1980s and early ’90s, pitchers and other players — who were one step away from the World Series, who were clean and going up against those A’s teams that were loaded with steroids. Those are the people I feel sorry for.” — Minnesota Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
“If McGwire does not believe that performance-enhancing drugs boosted his performance, then I want to know just whom he sees when he looks in the mirror in each day. Perhaps not even McGwire knows. He said he took low dosages of steroids because he did not want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno. Funny, he looked exactly like one of those oversized body builders in ’98. Who did McGwire think he resembled, Pee Wee Herman?” — Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
“It’s a little black eye on baseball, but it’s hard to fault a guy for doing it to bounce back from a heavy workout or to be better. … I don’t think he’s alone. Mainly, I blame it on the fact the trainers completely changed their philosophy. I have no idea how many, but I’m sure there were a lot of people in that era using, I’m not just saying steroids, but using vitamins and drugs to help bounce back.” — Davey Johnson, former major league player and manager.
“I found it sad. There’s a delusion there. I couldn’t believe that McGwire kept saying he had the God-given ability to hit home runs. To say [he did it] only for health reasons … I think it really hurt him in the public opinion.” — Peter Gammons, speaking on WEEI.
I admire him for doing it. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Maybe he’s clearing his conscience. Again, every man has to live with himself.” — Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker.
“McGwire has waited too long [to tell the truth], and his relationship with steroids dates back too far — 20 years, to be exact, to an age when many in baseball still rejected weightlifting. His statement reveals a career not simply enhanced by drugs, but built on them. Bonds and Clemens were superstars even when they were as skinny as foul poles. McGwire, on the other hand, needed the muscle to be relevant. He was not a victim of the steroid era, as his statement implies. He was the most obvious creation of it.” — Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated.
“His admission does not increase his worthiness for the Hall of Fame; indeed it should weaken his already faint chances at enshrinement because he is, in totality, a steroid creation unable to use the Bonds/Clemens “He was a Hall of Famer before he used” argument — but McGwire gained respect as a man.” — ESPN’s Howard Bryant.
“To have the truth out there, I think that will help the fans and the game move on. I don’t think it helps him in any way. He’s on the ballot for the Hall of Fame and he’s getting about 23 or 24 percent of the votes right now. And I think that number will just go down now, in my opinion.” — Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
“There’s only one thing about McGwire’s statement that bothers me: The part where he says he’s sorry and wishes he hadn’t done it. I don’t mean to read McGwire’s mind; perhaps he really is sorry. I just wish that players like McGwire didn’t feel compelled to apologize, when we know that many of them would do exactly the same thing again, if they were in the same position. Most of them — and I don’t mean this as an insult — are sorry about getting caught, but not sorry about doing what they had to do (or thought they had to do) to get healthy or gain a competitive edge.” — ESPN’s Rob Neyer.
” Since he earned $74,688,354 in salary, plus endorsements, pension and other benefits, he’s probably not totally sorry. This is certainly a day to encourage honesty and practice forgiveness. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that even though baseball did not have drug testing during much of McGwire’s career, the sport explicitly stated that taking steroids was cheating. Mac knew exactly what he was doing and new it was against the rules — tests or no tests.” — Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post.
“I’m not surprised. I think Mark has stepped back and realized probably being honest is the best way to go.” — Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
“McGwire’s remorse Monday was real, and deeply felt. As he talked about having to call his father, his oldest son, Roger Maris’ widow, Tony La Russa, it was clear that he feels awful for having hidden the truth from those he cared about. Those who know him talk about what a good person he is, helpful and charitable. Going forward, he is now in a position to work in baseball, to work with young hitters and use his understanding of the way a swing works to help them get better. But a lot of what he said Monday made no sense; if he had said a lot of the same things before Congress in 2005, he would have been met with incredulity and tough follow-up questions and, in all likelihood, ridicule.” — ESPN’s Buster Olney.
‘‘He looked ridiculous to most of the public, but he didn’t have many good options. We put him in a pretty tight spot. He was candid and honest in our interrogation of him. He said: ’Someday, I’ll tell the story.’ ’’ — Former Rep. Tom Davis, who chaired the March 17, 2005, congressional hearing at which McGwire repeatedly said he would not ‘‘talk about the past.’’
‘‘Mark McGwire is doing the right thing by telling the truth about his steroid use. His statement sends an important message to kids about the importance of avoiding steroids.’’ — Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on Davis’s committee in 2005.
“As tortured as McGwire appeared to be as he went on his mea culpa tour, it’s stunning to believe that he’s still trying to convince us that everything we saw from him was all on the up and up, that his God-given gift of exceptional hand-eye coordination — not some chemical magic from the tip of a syringe — created those historic home run milestones. More practical people can’t put much merit in McGwire’s revisionist history.” — Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.