I taunted Doug Glanville pretty badly an hour ago and I feel kinda bad about it, so to make up I’d like to link his excellent NYT column yesterday in which he absolutely nails the McGwire thing:
In McGwire’s admission, he explained how he was doing his
job, and his torment and regret seemed genuine even as he spat out the
usual clichéd excuses many players have used: injuries and recovery,
desperation and peer pressure, ignorance and breadwinning, culture and
In fact, I understand all those reasons. I really do, because I was
there too, just like everyone else in the major leagues then who was
trying to stay there. I also felt all those pressures, one way or
another. I tore a hamstring tendon in a contract year that put me on
the shelf for two months. (A tendon that was at the root of my game —
speed.) My father was chronically ill in the years just after McGwire
broke the single-season home run record, a period during which I was
stressed and saw my own statistics decline.
So I get it. But the problem is, too many players made a different
choice than McGwire did in the face of similar situations. I can’t
claim to know exactly what he was going through during the time he
decided to take steroids, but I am confident that there were other
players who dealt with the same challenges and played clean. There
really isn’t any excuse.
To the extent I’ve defended McGwire it’s not been a defense of his taking steroids. It’s been a defense against the over-the-top moralisim and hypocrisy with which which his statement was met and the desire to extract something more out of the man than a confession and an apology for his acts. McGwire is but a man who is still very much deluded about what he did and why. It’s not really my concern. That’s between him and his conscience. The writers and the historians and the public will figure out what it meant for baseball, the records and the Hall of Fame.
But that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was wrong. No, it wasn’t capital murder of the game of baseball, but it was wrong. And unlike everyone else who has weighed in, Doug Glanville was there. He was a Major League baseball player in the late 90s, subject to the same temptations to which Mark McGwire fell victim. Indeed, the temptations for a player like Glanville may very well have been greater than they were for a man like McGwire, who had already made millions and possessed a World Series ring.
Glanville made the right choice by the rules, by the law and by his own conscience, and he may very well have had a shorter and less lucrative baseball career than he could have had as a result. So if anyone could be excused for lashing out at McGwire and the other steroids users it’s a guy like Glanville. But he’s not lashing out. He’s offering perhaps the most sensible take of this I’ve seen from anyone. We should laud him for the decisions he made back in the 90s. We should laud him for his latest column.
And we should also ask ourselves why, if Glanville isn’t flying off the handle here, so many other people are.