The Gospel Truth

A Big Mac Attack Part II | January 17, 2010

We all know now that McGwire was thinking of quitting, so bad was his pain in the early 1990’s from a chronic heel problem.

The idea of such a gentle giant succumbing to an “Achilles Heel” malady is laden with a rich irony.

Suppose he did quit in 1994?  I doubt I would still be a baseball fan!   Just as the Babe did in 1921, “Big Mac” literally saved baseball for me and I’ll wager millions of other die-hard baseball fans.

He literally took it off the railroad tracks of self-destruction in 1998 before the sinister villain of owner/player greed eviscerated it for all time.

“Big Mac” led a cavalry charge over the hills to save the wagon train.  With a little help from Sammy Sosa, McGwire pulled baseball back from the brink.

For those with short memories…in 1993 Major League Baseball was forced to cancel it annual World Series because the billionaire owners could not get an agreement with their millionaire players.

As a result we were all deprived of parts of two seasons and…the WORLD SERIES.

The last time there was no Fall Classic was 1904 when the National League’s John McGraw refused to play the upstart league’s champion Philadelphia Athletics.

In those 50 years baseball had survived two world wars, a Depression, Korea and Vietnam and several political assassinations.  It was unforgivable.

That’s like someone canceling Christmas because the elves went on strike.  It’s like the Pope refusing to say Midnight Mass in the Vatican because his Swiss Guard had gone on strike.

And believe me baseball has always been my game. Due to my indelible attraction for the game, I later taught what is arguably the first accredited baseball history course in the midwest at Maryville College in 1973-74.

Unlike most of our “professional experts” I have studied the game in its entirety and know its history–even its sordid side.

For me to walk away from a game I have loved and cherished since I first heard Vince Scully’s dulcet tones describe Pee Wee Reese ‘s sterling play at short-stop in 1952, would be tantamount to Tiger Woods forgoing golf and  saying he was entering a Buddhist monastery.  (Maybe he should do just that!)

What McGwire admitted to having done pales in comparison to the Black Sox of 1919, Ty Cobb’s beating of a crippled heckler in 1910 and Pete Rose’s nasty demeanor.

And while I am on Rose a USA Today columnist had the thoughtless temerity of favorably comparing him with Mark McGwire.

I suggest that she read a little history and then maybe she might understand that it was gambling that nearly killed baseball for good in 1920. What McGwire did in the short run at least was very good for baseball.

Those who had suspicions, like writer Ring Lardner did in 1919, should have raised them when baseball was losing its hold on the public consciousness.

Fat chance our keepers of the faith would have further jeopardized their dying golden goose.  It is only under the protective coating of baseball’s boundless success and record attendance–largely due to “juiced” players that they dare rock the boat of baseball history.

So please stop with all the self-righteous, “holier than thou” gum-beating!

About Big Mac’s regrettable appearance before Congress–just what business does the United States Congress have with baseball? Like they are the beacons of honesty and integrity?

Haven’t these people already ruined much of what is decent about American life?  Why do they have to put their ignorance to work on our once great National Pastime? Aren’t these the same people who are trying to destroy the best health care system in the world?

I knew immediately that McGwire refusal to answer their questions was the work of his attorneys. They could not get him immunity, so as they say  “silence is golden.” (I wonder how much gold he had to pay them and if he got his money’s worth.)

Now we find out that they warned him that he could have suffer prosecution or a grand jury hearing if he said the wrong thing.  What would trigger that?

Had “Big Mac” broken the laws of the land or were they referring to his denials as being perjury?  It seems to me all this flap about drugs and steroids–are they the same thing?  Are all steroids essentially the same?  Are they all bad for you?

I have always resented having to learn economics to understand baseball…now I’ll have to study pharmacology!

Too bad it just wasn’t just about sex…. Tiger Woods could have lied his head off in front of Congress and no one would have cared, except maybe Kenneth Starr.

Let Congress investigate golf and leave baseball alone!

I think one could make the case that both his “co-defendants” before Congress who even addressed their questions might have perjured themselves.

Sammy Sosa immediately forgot what little English he knew and Rafael Palmeiro vehemently denied he had used anything.  When he was busted months later for doing what he denied it made his testimony very suspect.

And how can anyone gauge if his steroid use added any home runs to his total?  Most of his dingers I saw cleared the walls by 50-100’.  How far did he really need to hit them? Do you think the Governator could hit a fastball or Lou Ferrigno?

McGwire still had to hit the ball.  Look at his rookie photos with Oakland when he was relatively slender.  He hit 49 home runs, still the rookie record I believe.

Lets face it since 1968 when no one in the American League could hit more than .301 baseball has done everything in its power to add power to the game. If you are looking for the origin of the “untraditional” DH, 1968 is arguably where to start.

To help the batter, ML baseball lowered the mound, outlawed pitching inside.  They also made smaller stadia while batters padded themselves like goalies.

Baseball did everything but make them pitch underhand or better put the ball on a tee.

As an aside to the Maris family who now say that McGwire’s admission means that their late father regains his home run record.

Maris hit his 61 home runs in 163 games.  Babe Ruth hit 60 in 155 games.  Maris got his 60th in his 156th game and his last one in the last game of the 1961 season.

So if McGwire is off the pedestal he stood on for three years, I think so is their dad.

To this with all due respect, get a life.  Without the other “M” in the Yankee line-up hitting in front of their dad, I seriously doubt he would have broken the Babe’s record.  And he had a longer season to surpass the Babe.

And to people who say that they should expunge all their records, thinking that makes as much sense as whistling “Dixie” in a dark alley in Harlem.

And what about Barry Bonds, who looks like he has been filled with helium? He broke a lot of hearts with his 73rd homer run in 2001.

Was he injured?  Rumor has it that he “pumped up” to beat “Big Mac.”  Now I have trouble with that attitude.

From what I understand he has more trouble with the IRS than he does over any home run record.

Look I have studied “Big Mac” from afar for years and think he is an honest, decent, quiet, almost shy kind of giant, who like his mentor and boss, Tony LaRussa does not impress with his communication skills.

I think he is still very family oriented and as he said, he did not want to put them through the anal exam that Congress often pleasures itself with.  I can believe that.  So I am glad that he is coming back to baseball because it was poorer without him.

I hope he can get his reputation back and maybe even make the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

I am however, eternally grateful that he did not go on with Oprah to make his teary confession.  That might have been more than I can take!

And finally I have my own “confession” to make. Though I do not list it in my bio, one of my favorite accomplishments was capturing a photo of “Big Mac’s” historic 70th homer on September 27, 1998.  It now hangs in the “McGwire Room” in one of the leading trattorias in Clayton.

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4 Comments »

  1. As long as a Democrat Party exists in the USA, we will always be at their mercy. They have protected every enemy of the USA since WW2. Sought out the Soros’s of the World to meet their pay rolls in support ant-Christian, Abortion, Death Lists, genocide, racism, same sex marriage, homosexual agendas, and any other immoral action against a Christian population. They want to destroy any principles or fibers of Freedom that may hamper their self serving power hungry egotism. They reflect every demagogue Dictator, Socialist and Communist that has ruled a country.
    McGwire represents a fair and honest man playing a 12 year old boys game. The Democrats use McGwire as a deflector from supporting our Country and Military in our War against World Terrorists, whom the illigetment President denies exists.
    Your Part 2 Bill is a classic. Thank you for all you do and…we will wavier your Penance this time.

    Comment by James — January 18, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    • As a footnote to what I have already written, Bryan Burwell of the infamous PD calls McGwire the “face of the steroid era” in today’s Post-Disgrace. Oh really! I guess he is blind to Barry Bonds who brought this stain on the baseball history to the forefront.

      Comment by bbprof — January 19, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  2. Dear BB: Do you really think baseball would have died without McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds? Oh Ye of Little Faith!

    Comment by Bud — January 23, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

    • Budster:
      It would have died in my soul—that’s enough for me and why are we so quick to believe all the “liars” and drug dealers who accuse him of everything under the sun. He impresses me as a kind, gentle giants who thought he was saving his career; I just don’t think he could be lying with a straight face—I think unlike his “co-defendants” Big Mac has a conscience that would eat him alive were he lying through his teeth; I am not quite that cynical about human nature; I think we should all cut him some slack. So contary to your position, I think I have plenty of faith. BB

      Comment by bbprof — January 24, 2010 @ 4:38 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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