McGwire and steroids: Won't somebody think of the children?

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The New York Daily News’ Denis Hamill wants you to think of the children. His own, who allegedly had this conversation in the back seat of his car on the way to basketball practice the other day:

These kids, who will be playing on the same Little League team in a few
months, were representative of the trickle-down effect on this boy’s
game of another baseball giant admitting he’s a lowdown fraud . . . “I always thought McGwire used steroids,” said Liam. “After A-Rod [Alex
Rodriguez], Manny [Ramirez] and Big Papi [David Ortiz] last year, I
don’t trust any of them. I think Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard are
dirty.”

“The worst is Barry Bonds, who topped Hank Aaron’s lifetime homer
record,” said Peter. “On juice. How do you think that makes Hank Aaron
feel? I read about Hank Aaron. He hit all those home runs by using his
wrist power. Bonds beat him by cheating with juice.”

Liam said, “As far as I’m concerned, Roger Maris still has the most
homers in a single season. He hit 61 in 1961. McGwire broke that with
70. Then Bonds hit 73. Both of them were on juice, so they don’t
count.”

How fortunate for Hamill that his kids are able to speak in such narrative-propelling, context-supplying language like that. And that Hamill was able to jot them down as exact quotes despite the fact this conversation was happening as he was “driving the kids to basketball practice.”

And how about that Liam and Peter!  The two future little leaguers — which makes them somewhere between 11 and 13 years old — “always thought McGwire used steroids.” I wish my own kids were able to form such strong opinions when they were between two and four years old, which is what Liam and Peter were when McGwire retired. My poor dumb kids couldn’t even calculate a simple batting average at that age.

And their takes on Maris and Aaron?  Hamill must be so proud that his children, unlike any pre-teen I’ve ever met, revere the players of their fathers’ youth rather than that of their own.  How wonderful for Hamil and his story!

Unless of course . . .no, couldn’t be.  Forget I even thought it. I mean, if a writer for a major daily newspaper simply invented a conversation like that in an effort to communicate some tired and hacky ideas in a fresh new way he’d probably be disciplined.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.