In case you missed it this afternoon, a report which started in St. Louis and has already spread like wildfire in an Androstenedione factory, Mark McGwire is about to become the Dodgers next hitting coach. And I’m disappointed.
I’m not sure how you’d term push-back that comes in advance, but here it is. Fellow IBWAA member and mostly baseball savvy Dodgers blogger Mike Petriello, and Bob Timmermann got the ball rolling for the we’re-smarter-and-why-the-hell-not crowd with this Twitter exchange.
Well I’m no Bill Plaschke, but you can certainly count me among the righteously indignant. I’ve been writing and ranting about drug abuse in baseball for years, and I’ve said consistently that not only do I have no patience for this kind of crap, but that every last one of these performance-enhancing-drug-cheats is a gigantic (pun intended) piece of bleep. There are degrees of bleepness, sure, but they’re all bleepers.
And look, I love the Dodgers. You know I love the Dodgers, but I want and expect better. Of course, the current regime had nothing to do with the cheating of the past. Obviously. But the organization has a history with steroids, and it’s not a good one.
In fact, the Dodgers are mentioned 54 times in the Mitchell Report. That’s not to say that there are 54 instances of PED use or bad behavior by the club, but you get the idea. For comparison, the search term “Yankees” comes up 43 times, “Rangers” 29 and “Athletics” 23. Barry Bonds is mentioned 95 times, Roger Clemens 74 times and McGwire 33.
Paul Lo Duca and Eric Gagne and Matt Herges are featured players, Todd Hundley, Jay Gibbons, F.P. Santangelo, of course Steve Howe, and several others with connections to Los Angeles are mentioned in the report. You know about Gary Bennett, Jr., Guillermo Mota, and Manny Ramirez, each of whom was either acquired, or in one case, celebrated after testing positive for PEDs and being suspended from the game.
Here’s what I said about Manny the day the news of his Dodgers suspension was announced, May 7, 2009.
But we need to be objective here. It doesn’t matter that Manny is our guy, our player. If anything, it’s more important for us to take the opposite position. We can’t rail on Bonds and Sosa and McGwire, et al., and leave Ramirez alone. We just can’t.
San Francisco, we are not. This is Los Angeles. Manny is a Dodger. It’s right for him to be held to a higher standard. The Giants enabled Barry for years, their heads in the sand the entire time. The pioneering Dodgers simply cannot do the same.
We can debate the sincerity of the obligatory news conference slash disgraced-ballplayer apology if you like, and I’m all for guys getting second chances, but how do you define “second chances” exactly? Is it having your apology accepted and being treated as something other than the pariah you were previously? Is it the Hall of Fame or gainful employment in Major League Baseball?
These are semi-rhetorical questions, but however you answer them McGwire has gotten more than his fair share of second chances already. He enjoyed a comeback in a city where he’s loved – St. Louis – and he’s got a World Series ring to cherish for the rest of his life, which he no doubt earned. His name is still on the Cooperstown ballot, and he may one day make it.
But his services are not required in L.A. I’m sorry, but they’re just not.
And there’s not a hitting coach in America who is a sure bet to fix what ails the Dodgers – or what ailed them in 2012, anyway – nor will there be any telling whether a single coach made the difference if the team wins it all in 2013, while leading the National League in all manner of offensive categories.
There are other candidates available, some more qualified than Mark McGwire, and I’d prefer the Dodgers go another direction. And lead, as is more often than not the Dodger way.