Rosenthal: McGwire needs to own up or resign

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Rosenthal.jpgI’m a huge fan of Ken Rosenthal the reporter. I think he works harder than anyone in the business and, more than anyone, when he passes on a nugget of news, you can bet that it’s going to pan out. Personally speaking, he’s always been gracious with me despite the fact that I’ve been critical of him from time to time. 

That criticism comes when Rosenthal takes off the reporting hat and puts on the commentator hat, where I think he frequently gets things wrong. Things like this:

McGwire, then, faces a choice.  Resign as hitting coach and
return to seclusion before even tinkering with one swing — a copout. Or
hold an actual news conference — his six-minute effort at the
Cardinals’ winter warmup hardly qualified — and concede that, sure,
steroids helped him in some way . . . All anyone wants to hear is Big Mac acknowledge the drugs made a difference in his performance. Any other explanation insults our collective intelligence.

If it’s so damn obvious, why does Rosenthal or anyone else need to hear it?  Does Rosenthal demand that ballplayers who look to the sky after crossing the plate admit that their grandmother’s ghost didn’t really help them hit the homer?  Does he demand that Fernando Valenzuela admit that breathing through his eyelids did not help him win all those games?  Does he demand that Wade Boggs come to grips with the efficacy of eating fried chicken before ballgames?

It’s undeniable that steroids helped Mark McGwire in some capacity. We can’t know how much, of course, but it’s ridiculous to think that they didn’t help at least somewhat. Indeed, Rosenthal himself concedes that he doesn’t need Mark McGwire to tell us that.  Nevertheless, he persists with this “McGwire must say it himself” stuff. Rosenthal even crafts what he feels would be an acceptable confession by McGwire.  It contains nothing new and nothing that doesn’t obviously follow from what McGwire has said and what our own reason can easily supply.  At any rate it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rosenthal doesn’t need any more information than McGwire has already provided in order to assess the situation thoroughly.

But this isn’t about McGwire failing to provide enough information. This is not about coming clean. In demanding that McGwire admit what Rosenthal already knows to be true, this is about penance. Rosenthal demands that McGwire prostrate himself before him and the assembled baseball media and say exactly what they want him to say. If he cannot, he should be cast out of the church of baseball.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the media’s job to provide anyone absolution. If that’s what Rosenthal is interested in doing I suggest he follow Grant Desme’s example and go to seminary school.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.