Sportswriters, at times, write things that don't make sense. If you are covering a team with many other writers sharing the same opinions, you'll have to offer a different perspective to stand out. That, or you can blend in to the crowd.
But there are some things that are inexcusable. Gwen Knapp, of the San Francisco Chronicle, provided one of those today.
Now that Tony LaRussa has publicly revealed his fantasy of using Mark McGwire as a pinch-hitter if the Cardinals remain in contention when MLB rosters expand Aug. 31, the Giants should feel perfectly comfortable making the same option available to Barry Bonds.
We can all agree to suspend judgment, since the commissioner himself, after years of re-casting himself as the steroid sheriff, graciously welcomed the news that McGwire would become the St. Louis hitting coach. Apparently, all is forgiven, including McGwire's decision to duck questions in front of Congress.
I don't see how Selig could have done anything differently in this situation. Did you honestly expect him to react angrily to the news that McGwire was hired as the team's hitting coach? Is he going to come out and condemn the Cardinals for hiring McGwire, despite is past associations with performance-enhancing substances.
(I'm not saying McGwire took anything, but it's safe to say McGwire is guilty in the court of public opinion. I don't have evidence for anything, but I also think McGwire was juicing.)
No, Selig can't do that. It would tarnish Major League Baseball if he said something along the lines of, "We don't want McGwire associated with any Major League team." Why? Because MLB didn't do anything to McGwire's career numbers. If he's not guilty of anything in the past in MLB's eyes, then why should he be guilty when it comes to being hired for a job?
We can't use Selig's response to McGwire's hiring as evidence to anything. Selig could think McGwire is the biggest cheat MLB has ever seen and wants nothing to ever do with him. Selig could think McGwire was the cleanest player who ever lived. His reaction in both instances would be the same. Therefore, it's inconclusive as to whether or not Selig has forgiven McGwire.
We also know that sportswriters have not forgiven McGwire. For that, just take a look at the results of the Hall of Fame balloting. The fans probably haven't forgiven McGwire, especially after his non-showing in the Congressional hearings and his reluctance to speak with the media concerning his past after being hired by the Cardinals.
I'm also willing to bet that the fans will boo McGwire relentlessly should he ever step to the plate again.
What's even worse is Knapp's closing line to her column:
If McGwire can go up to the plate and belt one out in September, we'll marvel over how 46 has become the new 26. The words "human growth hormone" won't cross our minds or lips.
Really? Are you kidding me? McGwire is guilty in the court of public opinion, that much is certain. As soon as he stepped to the plate, the words "human growth hormone" and "cheat" will cross the minds of fans and "boo" will cross their lips.
As for the sportswriters who do not vote for McGwire (about 75%), they will be thinking the same thing: McGwire is a cheat.
If McGwire does hit a home run, at the age of 46, that will be more reason to suspect he's a cheat. Teams stayed away from Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro after their ties to performance-enhancing substances. Neither could find a job, despite wanting to play and perhaps being productive.
Manny Ramirez was booed after he tested positive for a women's fertility drug. Alex Rodriguez, as well. David Ortiz, a well liked player, was booed after being linked to the 2003 drug tests by the New York Times. Roger Clemens couldn't find a job despite being one of the better pitchers over the last 50 years.