Yet another former player has decided that Mark McGwire’s recent steroid admission and apology are not good enough for them. Ferguson Jenkins continued the trend by sending an open letter to the Associated Press in which he asserted that McGwire’s steroid-filled career “altered lives” of pitchers who gave up home runs to him.
Seriously, that’s what he said.
Nevermind that this is the same Jenkins, who is Canadian, that in 1980 was arrested at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium when officials discovered cocaine and marijuana in his suitcase. He was convicted on drug possession charges later that year, only to see the conviction immediately erased by a Canadian judge who cited his “exemplary conduct”. It should be noted that Jenkins is/was a national hero in Canada at the time.
So much the same as Jack Clark and Carlton Fisk, Jenkins feels that McGwire owes more than he has given. If it were up to these men, I’m sure McGwire would have to walk door-to-door, personally apologizing to each and every human on the planet for his past transgressions. Jenkins would have Mac visiting mental hospitals, where he would meet with all the former pitchers who have been driven to the asylum after their own lack of success in keeping McGwire in the yard.
Except that’s not the way it works.
Jenkins asserts that there were many pitchers whose careers, lives in fact, were significantly altered when McGwire took them deep. “How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs of them?” Jenkins asked in a telephone interview with the AP.
My guess: Probably not very many.
In fact, I can’t recall a single pitcher leaving baseball, either by his own choice or his teams, immediately upon allowing a McGwire home run.
I also find it entertaining that ESPN.com’s article on the matter listed several prominent pitchers who allowed a home run to McGwire in what turned out to be their final season. Among them, Bert Blyleven (who was in his 22nd season), Orel Hershiser (who was well past his own prime), and Donnie Moore. Moore certainly had his life altered by allowing home runs, but it wasn’t the one he gave up to McGwire, I don’t think. The Moore family has Dave Henderson and Don Baylor to thank for that.
But since ESPN has such a wonderful history of turning their analysts into the story (see James, Craig), why not have Hershiser make an appearance on Outside the Lines where he can talk about the effects of McGwire’s home run on his own life. Perhaps Hershiser can detail the years of counseling he has had to undergo, show us the bills from his psychiatrist. I’m sure Jenkins will tell you that Hershiser would have fared better as the Rangers’ pitching coach if not for having to face a juiced up McGwire.
In all seriousness though, this is just plain dumb.
Jenkins has done what Clark and Fisk have already done, cast the spotlight upon themselves one last time. Anything to get another 15 minutes I guess.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. McGwire doesn’t owe me anything, nor does he owe anything to Jenkins, or any of the pitchers he took deep. How many pitchers, I wonder, were using steroids when they faced McGwire? The answer is probably more than anyone would guess.
It’s time to quit whining. Jenkins and people of his ilk are just bitter. The steroid era happened, no amount of bellyaching is going to change that. Accept it, and move on.