January 11, 2010, - 10:57 pm

No Kidding: Mark McGwire Admits to ‘Roids Use – Is It Really a Big Deal?

By Debbie Schlussel


In a statement to AP and a teary-eyed interview with Bob Costas today, Major League Baseball’s Mark McGwire admitted he used steroids.  Currently a batting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, he admitted it in an apparent attempt to get into the baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  But it’s hardly news to anyone with eyesight, as McGwire looked like an NFL player during his pro baseball career, plus his head and hat size grew significantly.  Still, I give credit to former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer for the masterful way he coordinated the admission and press coverage of it.  He and McGwire are playing these guys in the mainstream sports media like Stradivarius violins.


As longtime readers know, I’m not exactly up in arms about steroids use in adults, and I don’t think it’s the end-all that others do.  McGwire’s and others’ suspected steroid user Sammy Sosa gave us a home-run race that baseball fans loved, coming to Major League Baseball stadiums and ball parks at record numbers.  I don’t support asterisks next to baseball record setters who used steroids because players use many performance-enhancing vitamins and pills that can be equally effective in improving hitting records.  In many cases, increased muscle mass from steroids may even make it more difficult to swing the bat correctly and connect with the ball.

I’m actually more troubled that McGwire–a grown man–cried on national TV than by his admission that he juiced up.

Kids in sports on the juice–that’s an entirely different story.  But adults–not a major league American problem.  Too much food is actually more of a health risk, and it kills far many more Americans.  In fact, there are few if any proven cases where steroids killed a pro athlete.  Lyle Alzado who died of brain cancer took HGH, not the same thing as what McGwire was apparently using.

Does McGwire deserve to be in the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame?  I think he does, regardless of the admission, today.  But some people say his truthfulness now will actually go a long way toward getting him in.  To me, that doesn’t make sense.  McGwire got few votes from the Baseball Writers of America (who vote on admission to the Hall) because they thought he cheated.  Since he has now admitting to using ‘roids, how is admitting to cheating an achievement?  In my view, it isn’t cheating any more than any supplements or nutritionist regimens are.  And it’s irrelevant.  He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Read more about what I think about steroids use in baseball (here, here, and here), and weigh in on what you think.

**** UPDATE: After reading some readers’ comments, they have a point, and perhaps McGwire shouldn’t be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown because he admittedly used steroids. So, I’ve changed my mind on that. But I do think that it’s not as big of a deal–steroid use in pro sports–as Congressional hearings and other manufactured outrage would have us believe. Which is worse–Pete Rose betting on baseball or McGwire’s juicing? Does either deserve to be in the Hall in your view?

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27 Responses

There are health problems from steroid use and I wish the gov’t would be more concerned about puting boys on ritalin from hyperactivity and girls on drugs for bipolar disorder then this.

adam on January 11, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Debbie, He is trying to regain his hero status. Just wait a few months and you will see him on HOprah with a book in his hands telling kids not to do what he did.

My bet is he knows he will get into the hall of fame after he dies anyhow because of his planned but still secret book.

Fred Taub on January 11, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Debbie I’m shocked you think he should be in the Hall of Fame. He cheated. Without cheating he never would have achieved those numbers. Rewarding cheaters with the highest honor the game has doesn’t serve baseball well. In a sense his admission does put some of the issues to rest. Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medals and world records. McGwire should have his records stripped. There should be a footnote to acknowledge what happened but he shouldn’t have the title.

CS: But if that’s cheating–and to some extent it is–then why are sportswriters saying that since he admitted it, they will ultimately vote him in? You have a point in Ben Johnson. On the other hand, Carl Lewis, who competed against him, tested positive for steroids many times, but got away with it. Was that fair? He should be stripped of his medals, too, shouldn’t he? DS

CaliforniaScreaming on January 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm

On most topics, I agree with you although on this one, I totally disagree.
The guy should not get into the Hall of Fame.
Steroid use is illegal and banned by Major League Baseball.
Irrelevant? I do not think so.
When did the law and rules become irrelevant?
He is a cheater. Plain and simple.

S: But that would mean sooo many people–Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and who knows who else–would be excluded. How will we know who used and who didn’t? DS

Stephen on January 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Bonds, Sosa, Clemmons and anyone else using should be excluded as well. Marching them in front of Congress seems to be the method of choice for lawmakers.
    Hell- half of these players lied before Congress. Last time I checked, that was illegal to.
    Great role models these guys are not.

    Stephen on January 12, 2010 at 12:12 am

I think Florence Grifith Joyner too steroids too. She looked like a man, and her voice was “rough” and she died young. I am surprised that Ben Johnson of Canada was caught but FGJ was not.

R: Yes, Flo-Jo DID use steroids. So did Carl Lewis. And both got caught but the Olympic authorities let them get away with it. This was documented in the excellent documentary, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”:

Rex on January 11, 2010 at 11:56 pm

What an idiot. Why can’t people just have a hot cup of STFU.lol

Joe on January 12, 2010 at 12:22 am

I’m an avid sports watcher but is this really news? Espn has been running this story all freaking day long. Who’s surprised mcgwire used steroids? Its ridiculous.

tyler on January 12, 2010 at 12:57 am

Induction into the Hall of Shame would be more appropriate. Mark needs to man up, then shut up.

Joe J on January 12, 2010 at 1:52 am

Debbie you asked if either Rose or McGuire should be in the hall of fame. Here’s my simple answer…


If this country had any sense of liberty and fair play left in it, it would say to both guys you both defied the rules so take your medicine (pun intended for McGuire), no matter how bad it tastes. And as for Tony LaRussa, manager of the Cardinals…


Bob Porrazzo on January 12, 2010 at 6:04 am

Who cares if athletes use steroids? They’re entertainers and make millions of dollars. Celebrities go under the knife to maintain looks and risk their lives, so who cares if an athlete risks his or her health? I’d also risk it for a millionaire lifestyle and all the perks, even if it meant a shorter life, and when i pay top dollar to watch sports, I want to see super-human performance.

DS_ROCKS! on January 12, 2010 at 6:27 am

I can only say, proudly, it would take a woman (or a youngster) to NOT understand the HUGE problem with an ASTERISK in the baseball records…especially when you grew up with Aaron, Mays, and Mantle…and watched their performances daily.

Robert Haze on January 12, 2010 at 7:09 am

Debbie, baseball isn’t going to give us world peace. In regards to your questions. Yes they all should be banned if they were caught or admitted. Marion Jones got stripped of her medals as well. Carl Lewis to my account didn’t get busted for steroids. But if he is guilty, screw him too. Irregardless, just like any profession they are to be held to certain ethics and standards. As for the sportswriters who think he has more reason to be in the hall, they are just stroking their own egos. I agrees with you about their inconsistencies. Sounds like they are looking at the Hall of Fame subjectively and not objectively. To me if it is about them and not the athletes then their vote should be up for questioning. I know you take your journalism seriously and when those who lie or plagiarize you know they are cheating as well. You call them out. Which is why your site rocks.

As for Pete Rose being banned, that is a tough one. From my understanding he never bet against his team. He bet on his team to win. He bet on games that he wasn’t involved in. However he did put the integrity of the game at question. His ban should be lifted. I think he should be in the Hall. World peace hasn’t been achieved.

CaliforniaScreaming on January 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

The question of should cheaters make the Hall of Fame is not a simple one. For instance, Sammy Sosa was a cheater above and beyond steroids. He actually got caught corking a bat. I don’t know if Sammy deserves induction into the Hall of Fame anyway, but if did play well enough, should he be allowed in apart from the steroid use?

Then you have the numerous pitchers who have cheated (I am not sure how many of them are in the Hall of Fame). They did everything they possibly could to the baseball and the umpires let them get away with it. Those supposed “searches” of the pitchers for foreign substances were a joke (I hope TSA did not hire any of them). I remember watching one game where so much liquid came off a pitch thrown to Reggie Jackson it seemed like the pitcher spit instead of throwing the ball. No way the umpire didn’t notice yet he did nothing to the pitcher (I believe Reggie got thrown out of the game because he let the umpire know how he felt about that). Should any of these pitchers be banned from the Hall of Fame?

I_AM_ME on January 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

No way should this guy or Sosa or Bonds, etc., get into the HOF. Just compare rookie pics to later when not only did their bodies get bigger, their heads got enormous. Do steroids make it tougher to hit a round ball with a round bat? I don’t know, but I do know that if you do connect the ball goes a lot further. When these cheaters were playing, HRs were in the 60s and up year after year. Now we’re back to normal highs with guys like Ryan Howard who hit around 40-45 hr’s a year. Like others have stated, I agree with you most of the time, but not here. Worse is that McGwire said he used them to recover from injury faster, not to hit more HR’s. Give ME a break.

Marc on January 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

None of the players who admitted to steroid use or who Hall of Fame voters believe “beyond a reasonable doubt” used steroids,should be in the Hall of Fame. PERIOD.

Pete Rose is a prime example of the “double standard” that permeates America. Rose is still banned from baseball but McGwire is now a coach. Bud Selig knew McGwire was juiced but at the time, he needed him and the home run race to restore interest in baseball. Selig is STILL the hypocrite in charge of MLB.

There is no evidence that Rose used performance enhancing drugs. He earned those 4,256 hits the old fashion way. Rose once said “Somebody’s gotta win and somebody’s gotta lose and I believe in letting the other guy lose.”

Rose may be an asshole. But Pete Rose never dogged it and there is no evidence he ever threw a game due to gambling.

In spite of McGwire’s crocodile tears and his bull shit about his “gift” for home runs, he would not have achieved the record without the advantage of performance enhancing drugs.

Mays, Mantle, Marris and Rose, earned their records the old fashion way, without the benefit of illegal performance enhancing substances.

Bonzer Wolf on January 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

Pete Rose should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He betted on games AFTER he was a player. Perhaps he shouldn’t go in the Hall of Fame as a coach, but his record is something that we won’t see beat for a very, very long time. He has the record for all time hits – 4256. The next closest active player has 2763, and this is Griffey Jr. Charlie Hustle needs to be in the Hall of Fame due to his achievements as a player.

Answer me one question. With all of the athlete felons that have all time records and they committed their crimes AFTER they were a player, should they also be stripped of their status? No, and Pete Rose deserves the same treatment.

Jarhead on January 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

It will be very tough for McGwire to get it, especially since his support for each year on the ballot is less than 24%.

Rocky Lore on January 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

#1- anabolic steroids are NOT a “performance enhancer” – note – performance is singular

#2- lifting weights is NOT a “performance enhancer”

#3- vitamins injected or swallowed are NOT a “performance enhancer”

anabolic steroids build muscle mass. so does weight lifting.

curt schilling was made a hero and still is today with his bloody socked tendon that was injected before that world series game with cortisone which is a STEROID but no one dares say that in public.

besides it was not against baseball rules back then. and shouldn’t be now. if these guys want to risk their health later on oin the future it their business. just like anyone in the country who wants to smoke cigarettes!

Bob S. on January 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

why he admitted it now? because he is starting his first season as hitting coach for the cards and seems quite likely he was told to do so before the first exhibition game and he appears on the field.

Bob S. on January 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I am not at all interested in all the back and forth about steroids in professional and non-professional sports. I do recall atmospherics about one of my friends who was a local highschool athlete and who went on to play pro football. All his teammates and friends heard that he was taking steroids. It was no surprise to me that a few years into his pro-football career he died of a malignant brain tumor.

docfromjerusalem on January 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm

What a loser. If anybody thinks that baseball, football and other “games” are games they are sadly mistaken. They are big business. They have owners, unions, managers, employees, and customers(fans).

Do not believe the myth that “sports” promote team play and “sportemanship”; they do’t. They only teach kids how to lie, cheat, steal, use drugs and talk with marbles in their mouth.

When one of these losers turns in and testifies against their supplier, then I may have a little smidgen of respect for them.

Forget this crap get your kids involved in science, model making, wood working, etc. Something that nurtures creativity and thinking.

DAVE on January 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm


Bob S. on January 12, 2010 at 8:34 pm

and then as king show started he announced canseco just cancelled a half hour ago because he was having a breakdown

Bob S. on January 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Thank you Bonzer Wolf you hit it right on the head. Bud Selig is the criminal mastermind of this whole mess. After the baseball strike in the 90’s he needed something to spark interest in baseball again. Mcgwire to my knowledge didn’t hide the fact that he took pills to help his game while he went on to break records. There was no testing and the commissioner looked the other way. Now that ticket sales are back up Selig can cleanse his conscience and pretend to look down from the mountain top at those evil-doers. The secrets over we know who took steroids and who didn’t and most of us don’t care anyway, so Espn needs to stop running this bogus story. Selig just hates Barry Bonds that’s why he’s trying to get him thrown in jail. Should these guys who shot up be in the HOF? “NO” you couldn’t do on your own like the true greats did so you don’t belong in the same sentence as them. After their usage was over their careers fell apart with the exception of Bonds he still had something left in the tank till he was black-balled.

Sic Semper Tyrannus on January 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

i was at a oakland a’s at toronto playoff game i believe it was in 1990 or 91 a year the a’s beat toronto in that series.

i was sitting down the 3rd baseline. jose canseco and mcgwire were on the a’s. canseco was playing left field. sellout crowd of about 50,000 as it always was at the skydome before the lockout. the fans in the left field foul line seats started screaming “STEROIDS” every time canseco took his place and while he stood there.

canseco turned around to face the fans in those seats, he then rolled up his sleeve and flexed his biceps and pointed at it with his other hand.

Bob S. on January 12, 2010 at 11:32 pm

I began to lose my interest in baseball when one of my favorite players, Ken Harrelson, stepped off a plane smoking a cigarette, but I’m encouraged by the thought that since my Chargers are such a lousy playoff team, maybe they are drug-free.

Aaron S. on July 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm

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