After Further Review …"Happy Birthday, Dad!" Mark said as he crossed home plate on September 7, 1998, after hitting his 61st home run, tying the Major League home run record. Yes, MARK is Mark McGwire, former St. Louis Cardinal's first baseman. McGwire, who had a Hall-of-Fame career – 16 years, Rookie of the Year (1987), Golden Glove award (1991), All Century Team (1999) - was paying tribute to his father John, a retired dentist, who was in attendance. John had poliomyelitis in his youth (age 7 circa 1944) and was never able to realize his potential of pursuing his career dream in baseball.
Unfortunately for father John and mother Ginger, son Mark (1 of 5 boys) has recently fallen from grace with the admission of his use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). McGwire, in a recent television interview, said his use of steroids did not contribute to his ability to hit home runs. PA-lease!
While we don't know all there is to know about how the use of PEDs improves a player's skill, the real issue is the illegality in the world of sports. We can easily cite cases of Lyle Alzado (deceased Raiders DE), Ben Johnson (Olympic sprinter), and many others who used steroids, causing Johnson to be stripped of his medals and contributing to Alzado's death. What is more important is the integrity of the game. Although baseball fans love to see home run barrages, would fans admire a player's skills, if they knew their 'slugger' was cheating? I think not. Goose Gossage, a HOF pitcher said, "There is no place in Cooperstown (location of MLB Hall of Fame) for any player who uses PEDs." Reggie Jackson (1993 HOF), aka Mr. October, says he is "hurt" by McGwire's revelation; #44's hurt is the "hurt" the use of steroids puts on the game.
Is the steroid-era in the MLB over? MLB Commissioner Bud Selig says it is; others aren't so sure. The issue here is not so much about McGwire's HOF eligibility or when the "era" is over; the issue is about "cheating." How do we teach young and current athletes that you can't cheat your way into fame?
Take time to read "Sixty feet, Six Inches," a recently released book by Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson, both Hall of Famers. Steroids? PEDs? Cheating? Those thoughts would never enter their minds.
Will you maintain the integrity of any game you play by not circumventing its rules?