December 13, 2006

Looking For Mr. Longball: ESPN senior writer Wright Thompson turns in this longform piece on the public disappearance of Mark McGuire. Thompson says if you have questions for the former slugger, "'ve got to get past the security guard and the gates one large one out front and a smaller one past the golf club. Unless he gives his blessing, the gates remain closed, keeping his past locked safely outside, his future neatly barricaded behind these walls."

posted by wfrazerjr to baseball at 02:33 PM - 16 comments

Just finished reading this and came here to post it. You beat me to it wfrazer. Great article, somewhat sad. Yeah, he has a plush lifestyle, but for how long can someone seclude themself? It's like prison, for the ultra-wealthy.

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 02:44 PM on December 13, 2006

How long is a professional athlete considered to be a public figure? At some point, five years after retirement, why can't he expect to be left along without being considered some recluse? I remember when the USA Today decided to publish Arthur Ashe's HIV status, even though he hadn't been a public figure for quite some time. It was wrong. Further, I don't blame McGwire for not wanting to talk to old "friends" who are only too willing to share everything they know with any reporter who is interested. The article was quite dramatic. His hometown is devastated and he has been vanquished from his high school because of his performance in Congress. This type of article could have been written about OJ and I would have understood it. While I think steroids and baseball shouldn't mix, I hardly think that McGwire should be treated like a leper for it.

posted by bperk at 03:09 PM on December 13, 2006

If anything, I think that the public at large loves to forgive the fallen hero when he comes to them repentant. But questions loom large when he becomes reclusive in the face of accusation. Now the once very public figure has isolated himself to his own "leper colony". For someone so strong, he now appears meek. Of course it is his right to shun the public spotlight that he once bathed in, but the baseball fans want what they want. Honesty, not a skirting of the issues while under oath.

posted by THX-1138 at 03:24 PM on December 13, 2006

The views of THX-1138 and bperk are well taken, and I can see both points. While I'm not enamored with his appearance in Congress, "Big Mac" is being judged by the same "fans" whom ran to the TV for their nightly ESPN jones of "Mac vs Sammy", with that gleam of "something special" in their eyes. Look, Andro-like substances, "greenies" or whatever enhancers have been in the game for many years, and a staple to, probably, MANY more athletes than we'd like to believe. But McGwire hit a ton of homers as a skinny kid out of college, 44 I think, on his way to being named Rookie of the Year. The numbers kept rising, as he became one of the infamous "Bash Brothers", and then as he moved on to St. Louis, where he became a folk hero, with a street named after him near Busch Stadium. The thing that today's accusors fail to remember is that Mark NEVER asked for idol status, ALWAYS lecturing that "parents should be the heroes". Congress(you remember Congress...liars, cheats, thieves, abusers- the old man used to refer to them as guys with "balls the size of melons")"invited" Mac, Sammy, Raffi, et al, to a "discussion" about the new "world evil", steroids. A high schooler had commited suicide, supposedly from depression, induced by performance-inhancing drugs, and THEY wanted to know why. Lots of Congressional "face time" was afforded each of our "concerned" leaders, as they delved into how Major League sports could allow drugs to seep into our society, while (nod, nod, wink, wink) they schlepped autographs "for their kids", away from the Senate chambers. McGwire telling the world that "steroids is bad" is like a lung cancer patient telling his kids the evils of smoking, as he fires up a Camel Light. Bad for you, okay for me...I take care of me, you take care of you. Once again, it's SOMEONE ELSES fault that a kid goes off the edge. Wanna find the REAL bad guy in the kid's demise? Don't look at Mac, Raffi, Sammy, or even the corner "man". Look closer to, trainer, AD, teachers or doctor,the ones who're supposed to truly CARE, whom seem to find no issue with a sudden massive weight gain, accompanied by a rather ugly mood swing, passing it off as "just being a kid". Oh, yeah, we're missing some people here! The parents and, OOPS, THE KID HIMSELF need to be looked at, for why this change is SO necessary in his young life. Tom Skerritt's Duke Forester put it best, in M*A*S*H, when he explained, "It's God's will, or someone else's fault".

posted by wolfdad at 11:10 PM on December 13, 2006

Mark McGwire never broke any rules of baseball. IF he did roids, it was the players union and MLB that allowed him to go undetected. I would like the players association and MLB to stand up and take the blame for the steroid era. The union used drug testing like a poker chip during negotiations during the 70's, 80's and 90's, and MLB was too whimpy to demand the testing. It wasn't until the public outcry was loud enough that testing stopped being a union bargaining chip and suddenly MLB got tough. Leave these guys alone. We can't prove who did it and who did not, pitchers, hitters they all did the stuff, Canseco says 70 or 80% used them, there is no one to blame but the people who let it happen. If Jose is right, then the playing field was pretty level.

posted by SAVANX at 12:41 AM on December 14, 2006

I should point out that Big Mac deserves the hall of fame, but he has always been a complete ass. He refused to talk to reporters in Oakland, and only warmed up to the public for the homerun record. After that he became what he always was, a recluse, an ass, a typical spoiled jock. Don't be surprised by the way he is acting, it is not an act.

posted by SAVANX at 12:45 AM on December 14, 2006

SAVANX-A horse's ass he is not. I watched him come into to MLB and while he may have not been the most responsive player to the media I witnessed him time and again stopping for the fans. He gave the media appropiate time. I often wondered if I had that kind of talent, how in the world could I focus on my game with the demands the media expects. Not every athlete has the attitude of a Terrell Owens. Thank goodness. Some are, by nature, more reclusive. There is nothing wrong with that. They simply want to do their craft at their highest capability and leave it at that. I was also let down at the way he responded to Congress but I do believe that the steroids he took in his time were a part of baseball. I don't agree with it but as others have stated before me it's a bad by product of MLB. MLB needs to clean up their act and stop sweeping everything under the carpet.

posted by hoyty at 02:16 AM on December 14, 2006

I have no issue at all with McGwire's reclusiveness, but if he insists on maintaining this "if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve" attitude, I'd rather not see him in the Hall of Fame. A vast majority of HOFers realize that with the title comes an ambassadorship and a duty, if not to give something back to the game and its fans, at least to give something back to the Hall by participating in its mission. Judging from this article -- for what that's worth -- it doesn't look like McGwire would have any interest in that.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2006

Great comments, BullprenPro. I was inclined to post, but I'm sure I would've rambled without making my point as clearly as you did. Gracias

posted by littleLebowski at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2006

First off - I don't like McGwire. Wasn't a fan - found him more than a little jerky (The whole "I'm in awe of myself" thing) and over-rated at times. However- I'm not so sure McGwire owes anyone anything. He basically operated as many of his peers and has become a pariah for essentially being stupid and scared when faced with the farce that was those congressional hearings. Recluse seems to be a good choice after being propelled to the mountain-top of fame, only to be chucked down by the same people who carried him there in the first place. Is he a HoFer? By the numbers - undoubtedly. First ballot. I fail to see otherwise. Will he be? I guess not. That's the way the foul hypocritical wind is blowing, it would seem. My guess is he's just heading off the inevitable disappointment at the pass. He's rejecting them before they reject him. These same people who wrote about he and Sammy saving baseball eight years ago. Again, I find some sympathy here - that reaction is very common among those that feel slighted. So I'm not really agreeing with the idea that BPP is proposing. I think McGwire feels very strongly that he did nothing wrong, and certainly nothing special in his steriods use and is very angry at the reaction. He hasn't helped his cause by playing the wounded soul a little bit, but honestly, I can't find a lot of blame here. I think he should be in the Hall and I think that the "character" criteria is being used in a terribly convenient fashion. Frankly, it's all bullshit.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:14 PM on December 14, 2006

If the glove does not fit... Until someone comes up with some real proof, keep denying it Mark. Even then, the classic "It wasn't me" defense could still work. It worked for Dennis Rodman when Carmen Electra found him in bed with two chicks at the same time.

posted by yay-yo at 02:08 PM on December 14, 2006

This is a complicated issue. Any conversation about prospective Hall of Famers gets muddled because there are three angles from which to view an election: 1) do I WANT him to get in; 2) do I think he SHOULD get in; and 3) do I think he WILL get in. It's very easy to read a reaction that comes from one of these angles and misinterpret it as being from another angle. For my part, I was not proposing an idea so much as issuing my personal opinion (#1). Here's where I fall: 3) Not this year. Probably eventually, but it will be very close to the 75% mark. 2) I don't believe McGwire should be held out of the Hall of Fame for steroids, and a part of me hopes he gets in only because of why I think he might be kept out. However, I have no problem with holding him out for being a one-dimensional player whose stats were buoyed by playing in an era that deliberately enhanced offense. He's not on my ballot. 1) I think Weedy is probably right that McGwire is preemptively ducking arrows. And I don't want to suggest that I think that McGwire should be standing in the middle of the field with his arms outstretched just taking all the abuse people want to throw on him. Right now he is not in the Hall of Fame, and I could care less about what he does in his private life. But if he intends to remain bunkered and estranged from the game after election, I'd rather not see him in. Yastrzemski doesn't lift a finger for the Hall of Fame, never comes back to Cooperstown, never participates in any of the Hall of Fame's events, and in my opinion it's a disgrace. You can't tell people how to feel about an honor that is bestowed on them, but if they tell you up front that the honor means nothing to them, screw 'em.

posted by BullpenPro at 02:10 PM on December 14, 2006

Mark McGuire never lied about taking steroids!During his home run chase he said he took what was then a legal Andro & even explained what it was!Congress nor anyone else had anything they could charge him with & were just grandstanding!As for the media,as someone who has to put up w/their shit every day as a S.F. Giants employee,fuck "em!They are far more arrogant & a pain in the ass than any athlete including Barry Bonds who actually is a nice guy.These know nothing pukes think they have a right to do,say,go anywhere they please just because they have a pencil or mike in their hand!!!All they do is harrass & then write hit pieces on the guys for spite when they don't cater to their no talent asses! The vote for HOF should be removed from their hands and given to a panel of ex players managers & coaches who at least KNOW the game!The ignorance of most i talk to is laughable!!!

posted by mdavidsf at 02:16 PM on December 14, 2006

mdavidsf- Good point. I think a lot of people forget or never realized that he has admitted to taking steroids. He did this long before Congress.

posted by hoyty at 02:45 PM on December 14, 2006

I've known people like McGuire. The going gets tough and they pull back from everything, including long time friends. I think it has more to do with his personality than anything else (a defense mechanism) and very little with baseball. Yastrzemski doesn't lift a finger for the Hall of Fame, never comes back to Cooperstown, never participates in any of the Hall of Fame's events, and in my opinion it's a disgrace. You can't tell people how to feel about an honor that is bestowed on them, but if they tell you up front that the honor means nothing to them, screw 'em. If I remember correctly Yastrzemski isn't your favorite player bbp, and no doubt he's a peculiar guy, but comparing him to Mcguire is quite the stetch. Here's his acceptance speech. He's been involved with the sox ever since he's retired, and he was involved in the raising of the 04 series flag. I have no clue regarding his participation in HOF events, but I'm guessing he's one of hundreds who refrain (which makes your choosing of Yastrzemski an even more head-scratching selection). Regardless, he seems to be the exact opposite of McGuire in almost every way.

posted by justgary at 01:40 AM on December 15, 2006

I have no clue regarding his participation in HOF events, but I'm guessing he's one of hundreds who refrain Of all the Hall of Famers currently living, exactly three have failed to attend a single Hall of Fame Induction since 2001: Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount and Carl Yastrzemski. Ryan had a heart attack in 2000 that required double bypass surgery, and he was in Cooperstown this past Mother's Day to dedicate a statue at the museum. Yount has been a base coach for major league teams since 2002. You can apparently book Yaz for appearances so long as they're not in Cooperstown. I have no issue with Yaz as a player -- I have the highest respect for him in that regard. As a Hall of Famer, though, I know that he is generally considered one of the least active and least available members for the museum's activities. He is credited with having been back for two inductions since his own in 1989. I don't know about the one in 1994, but if you blinked in 2000 you missed him. I'm not trying to compare Yaz and McGwire as people -- I only used Yaz to illustrate the type of person who, for whatever reason, doesn't show a real vibrant interest in giving anything back to the Hall of Fame after being honored with an election.

posted by BullpenPro at 03:17 AM on December 15, 2006

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