Is Mark McGwire being treated differently than other PED confessors?

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As Mark McGwire continues to be called a liar and a fraud for his claim that he took steroids because he was injured and not because he thought they’d enhance performance, it’s probably worth remembering another player’s comments about his PED use:

“I was injured . . . I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as
possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I
tried human growth hormone . . . This is it — two days out of my life; two days out of my
entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list. I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal. If I
have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope
that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days
of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and
dedication.”

I just wanted to heal? I only took it for two days?  If anything, this player was even more cavalier about it than McGwire. And that wasn’t a personal statement by the way. It was a written statement released through his agent. Anyone know who it was?

Why, it was Andy Pettitte, and that was his statement after being outed in the Mitchell Report two years ago.

And I’m just as fine with Andy Pettitte’s statement as I am with McGwire’s. Credible? No. But I don’t believe that they owe me apologies or explanations. I do believe, however, that anyone who is currently taking Mark McGwire to the woodshed for claiming that PEDs didn’t help him is obligated to conform those opinions to something close to what they said about Andy Pettitte two years ago.

I’ve searched a bit, and so far the only one I can find who slammed both of them is Mike Lupica, who in 2007 accused Pettitte of “crocodile tears” and yesterday compared McGwire to Bill Clinton and Marion Jones.  I disagree with him in both instances, but good for him for consistency at least.  Most other writers praised Pettitte — often quite effusively — for his candor, despite the fact that just over a year before he was on the record lying about it. The issue certainly doesn’t continue to dog him.

It’ll be interesting to see how quickly people jump off the “McGwire is still lying” train and start to treat him like a normal everyday hitting coach the way they treat Pettitte like a normal, everyday starting pitcher.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

Associated Press
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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.