Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moderate Attention And An Indifferent Shrug

  • Mark McGwire's confession is predictably anti-climactic:

If anyone was expecting a penultimate scene between Mark McGwire and an angry public, stung by betrayal of lies and self-serving semantics, as he finally confessed to that which everyone with any concept of logic knew was the truth, they were sorely disappointed.

The public admissions were nothing like the scene in A Few Good Men between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in which Nicholson justifies his behavior based on reality and Cruise demands the truth as to what really happened under Nicholson's command.

"You can't handle the truth!!!" was unspoken and unnecessary during the Bob Costas-McGwire interview; nor in any of the other forums in which McGwire made his "I'm sorry and ashamed" tour.

There was no climax; no stunned silence as the explanation was proffered. Like two people whose interactions show any observer paying scant attention that they're clearly in love without it being openly admitted; or Clay Aiken coming out of the closet; or Bill Clinton's confession to an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky----no one's all that bothered or interested other than in a selfish way of how this can help them in their own agendas.

No one's shocked.

No one really cares.

Does it matter that McGwire still refuses to come clean about what happened? With the nonsensical excuses of trying to recover from injuries; of using low doses of steroids whose names he can't recall; of believing that he still could've hit 70 homers without the use of PEDs, what's the difference at this point?

People will speculate on the potential accuracy of these statements; they'll dissect everything he said; doctors, trainers and experts in bodybuiding and drug use for muscle gains will present their opinions on the believability of McGwire's assertions; some will defend him; others will condemn him. Everyone will get their fair share of play from this non-event. But does anyone care? Are they truly shocked?

Aside from a disturbingly naive Tony La Russa, did anyone really believe that McGwire had been clean all those years? In a bizarre way, McGwire's credibility is non-existent next to that of Jose Canseco, who's still torn to shreds as a "liar" or someone who was looking to sell a book, but has had just about every one of his major allegations from the Alex Rodriguez revelation on down proven to be true.

McGwire was the All-American slugger who was presented as a testimony for hard work, dedication and perseverance, but turned out to be a false hero. Canseco was the guy with the outlandish persecution complex; the arrests; the speeding tickets; the divorces; and controversial lifestyle. The difference is that Canseco told the truth and McGwire continues to use a skillful manipulation to downplay what he actually did and why.

Would McGwire have come out with his surface-scratching version of the truth had he not decided to re-enter baseball as the Cardinals hitting coach? Who knows? Will this end the feeding frenzy that awaited him once spring training started? Probably.

Barry Bonds is the villain; Roger Clemens is defiant; ARod is disingenuous; and McGwire is contrite and tearful. Are his persona as a good guy and heartfelt reaction enough to protect him from the reactions that come from this admission?

And I do believe that Mark McGwire is a good guy who means well, but what's the difference between motive, personality, perception and reality? Behavior is what it is regardless of intent if people are hurt by it. That he didn't intend to hurt anyone shouldn't exclude him from the same scrutiny raining down on the aforementioned people.

McGwire admitted his steroid use. People are paying attention with passing interest and a "no-kidding" shrug.

We can handle the truth.

We just don't care anymore.

  • Cubs hire Greg Maddux as assistant GM:

We'll ignore the fact that in the moment, the Cubs would be better off if Greg Maddux put on a uniform and decided to pitch rather than don a suit to be an executive. Let's instead look at the prospect of someone with Maddux's mind moving into a front office capacity full time.

With Maddux signing on as special assistant to GM Jim Hendry, this is the first step for the mound craftsman eventually becoming a GM and a good one. Like Orel Hershiser, Maddux is so smart, savvy and baseball-knowledgeable that he could do anything he wanted in the game and do it well. Pitching coach, manager, scout or general manager----the genius that made them successful on the mound extends to other aspects of the game.

In an off-season for the Cubs that could be described as----at best----disturbing, they made a good move for the present and future by bringing Maddux back into the fold.

Coming down from his initial demands of 4-years, $40 million, Joel Pineiro is said to be talking to the Mets and Dodgers----MLBTradeRumors.com. If the Mets manage to get Pineiro at the same money----2-years, $15 million----that a lesser pitcher in Jason Marquis got from the Nationals, their winning off-season will continue and they'll still have money to spend on bullpen help and possibly another bat.

Critics point to Pineiro's pitching so horrifically from 2005-2007 and that if he's away from Dave Duncan in St. Louis, he'll revert to what he was before he got there. It's ignored that Pineiro was a very good pitcher in 2002-2003 with the Mariners before he every got close to Duncan and Tony La Russa with the Cardinals.

Given Pineiro's prior success, there's little of a chance of him being a Kent Bottenfield, who only got it done under La Russa/Duncan and fell off the planet directly thereafter. Pineiro rejuvenated his career in St. Louis and the short money that he appears ready to accept make it a total win for the Mets if they get him.

Pineiro's motion was cleaned up and his ground ball/flyball ratio last year was almost double flyballs/line drives. With the Mets' infield defense and cavernous Citi Field, he'd win 15 games easily and gobble innings.

They're facing competition from the Dodgers, but with the Dodgers only moves thus far having been the signings of journeymen Nick Green, Jason Repko, Scott Dohmann, etc, are they really going to get Pineiro? They've done absolutely nothing this winter with the divorce of the McCourts clearly grinding personnel decisions to a halt.

Who would've thought a few months ago that a free agent with almost identical options would choose to join the Mets because they're more stable and less aggravating? But that's what the Dodgers mess has done.

I think Pineiro's going to the Mets. Sooner rather than later.


Jeff said...

I think that's the smartest move the Cubs have made all offseason.

As for McGwire, I was pretty shocked at his refusal to fess up that his numbers were padded from steroids. I used to rally behind Mark for the HOF vote, thinking his numbers would've been on par even if you take away the boost he got from 'roids. But as a human being, I have a hard time rallying behind anyone who looks right in my eyes and tells a stone cold lie -- that he could've hit 70 HRs that year without the 'roids -- and for that I have to walk away from my allegiance to Mac for the Hall. I hope he does well as a coach in St. Louis and I look forward to hollerin' at him during batting practice this season, but in evaluating him as a player over his career, I'm totally over it, him, all of it.

She-Fan said...

I'm with Jeff. That statement about being able to hit 70 HRs without the 'roids because he was such a natural as a kid rang hallow. And the low doses? Please. But the funniest was when he said he didn't want to look like Schwarzenegger. Does he think he looked like Olive Oil?

Joe said...

I was wondering if maybe they should just play Beltran in left center, and play Francouer in right. That might be a better defensive outfield than having Bay out there at all :)


mike said...

I think we share a brain about "Puff the Mutant Slugger"
McGwire. Certainly not a surprise and pretty yawn inspring by now, but with it out in the open, kinda, sorta, they can recieve their due individualized slings and arrows. They aren't sorry...so I say let em squirm and, if need be....Cry! whatever it takes. man enough to juice? take your lumps however long they last. It's all we have as fans.