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St. Louis Scapegoat (03/31/05) --
This article also appears at FargoFan.com

“Well, there’s a whole new level of embarrassment.” I don’t know how many times I’ve said or thought that sentence about Major League Baseball, but each time I do, I always assume that the game has finally hit its shameful plateau. The fact that I continue say it shows that it hasn’t and I can’t help but thinking that the worst might still be to come.

We’ve gone through all the messes of the 1990’s from the strike, to the contraction nonsense, to Bud Selig’s inability to wear a post-1975 hairstyle. And with the steroid explosion and subsequent Congressional circus we just recently witnessed, it’s another brick in baseball’s “impeccable” wall.

The F-minus performances at the congressional hearing were as abundant as Andro in the 1998 Cardinals locker room. Donald Fehr managed to make himself look like the slimiest man in the room, which was no small feat considering it was filled with politicians and Jose Canseco. Canseco himself refused to elaborate on anything he said in his book, and Bud Selig made sure to remind us all that kindergarten-level brain power is in baseball’s highest office.

But you’re not hearing much about those guys. Perhaps it’s because we all expect Bud and Jose to babble moronically when given a microphone or a dollar bill, but it’s still not quite fair. Instead of spreading the blame around, it’s all fallen on the shoulders of Mark McGwire.

Sammy Sosa was thinking ahead early in his career. When people look back to compare his old body size to his new one, 99.9% of all researchers end up going "Man, sweet 'stache. Where were we at aga.......oh man, that's a sweet 'stache."
Does McGwire deserve to be lambasted for his showing on Capitol Hill? Absolutely. “I’m not here to talk about the past” is going to go down in the annals of selective vocabulary along with “wardrobe malfunction” and “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” But to single him out the way that the media has is completely short-sighted.

It’s obvious at this point that McGwire was a juicer and a fraud for the back half of his career. And while he didn’t come out and admit his transgressions like we all would have liked him too, he also didn’t flat out lie to the public and our elected officials. Every other player at that table denied taking steroids and I find it incredibly unlikely that all of them were telling the truth. I’m not going to name any names here, but one ballplayer whose initials are “Sammy Sosa” categorically denied taking steroids. The likelihood of this nameless former Cubs outfielder never juicing is about on par with the likelihood of the same outfielder “mistakenly” bringing a corked bat to the plate.

But we’re not talking about that. Nor are we talking about Donald Fehr playing dumb about the laughable steroid punishment policy. We aren't even talking about Bud Selig’s incomprehensible claim that he was never aware of steroid abuse in baseball. Instead, all the derisive barbs have been aimed right at Mark McGwire.

Yes, he bilked us in 1998. His records and career are now a sham. But before you haul him to the gallows, consider the liars and cowards seated at the same table who would rather perjure themselves than take responsibility for their past actions. McGwire is acting as their sacrificial lamb right now, while the rest try to slip away into the shadows. As a baseball fan, I sincerely hope they don’t get away with it. It’s up to the public to keep the heat on all of them, and perhaps finally we’ll restore some semblance of order to what was once a respectable game.

The Leonardite
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