...And I'm not talking about the Michael Jackson trial (though I do want to know--what happened to Mark Garagos??). Today I watched an accumulation of probably 6 hours of the House Government Reform Committee--i.e. the House panel investigating steroid use in major league baseball.
I watched the entire questioning of the five pro-players: Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Jose Canseco. First, there is no reason for which Rafael Palmiero needed to be involved. I not only admire Rafael for where he's come from, but as a player he is exceptional. Second, if Mark McGuire said one more time that he is retired, I was going to scream! We know this, but thank you Mr. McGuire for reminding us and establishing in our minds the fact that you are no help whatsoever to the problem that plagues America's pastime. Mr. McGuire, you were asked by the United States House of Representatives to testify on the issue of steroids in major league baseball-- stating that you were not going to discuss the past (and reveal that maybe your homerun record was aided by the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs) left very little to discuss with you...you are, afterall, retired!
As Jose Canseco's book came out I wondered how much he really knew about steroid use, but today I realized quickly that he knows nothing. His book was just a quick buck. A scam that ruined friendships, player's reputations, and any sort of admirable perception we as baseball fans had of him to begin with. Way to go Curt Schilling for calling Canseco a liar. When asked if Schilling thought the use of steroids was as far reaching as Canseco stated (80% of all players use some sort of illegal performance enhancing drug), he answered "No," and added "[Canseco] is a liar."
Canseco's statements in his recent book and in his numerous interviews greatly contradicted his statements to the House panel today. What he says is 80% current steroid use in his book--and begins saying in his statement--is quickly cut down to 80% use in a given amount of time he spent playing (1994-2000). And about his own steroid use and how it may have furthered his talent and career, Canseco stated "I am an exception to the rule."
Curt Schilling was definitely the MVP of the day--his appearance had less to do with speculation over his use or lack of use of steroids and had more to do with his outspoken views on the problem of steroids in baseball. He was solid on the questions he felt comfortable answering. I'm not sure his testimony made or saved the day for baseball, but it sure helped. My favorite line of the entire questioning process was when Bernie Sanders told Schilling he sounded like a politician.
The House operates on a different level than the Senate (which I am more familiar with), but I was quite impressed with several of the representatives. Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) was the only representative willing to take a stab at McGuire and then criticize him for not taking the opportunity to say anything on the matter. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-California) was very firm in his questioning. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was eloquent and ever a reminder that we need more politicians like him in Washington. Bernie Sanders was odd. I'm convinced that there is something in the water in Vermont. Rep. Sanders (I-Vermont) started off his questioning with a long rant about how much the House needs to concentrate on childcare, health care, and more relevant matters. He was then stern in his questioning. One by one he was brutal!
The highlights? 1.) The naming of Schilling and Frank Thomas as co-chairs to a Zero Tolerance Task Force targeting all sports and 2.) At the end of the long questioning process were the ending statements that reminded the players, the House, and those of us sitting at home wondering what this was actually accomplishing that we are all just concerned baseball fans seeking a level and equal playing field, protection of the youth, and assurance that America's favorite pastime will be around for years to come.
For further information:
MLB Steroid Testing Policy
McGuire Refuses to Say If He Used steroids
McGuire Doesn't Give Answers to Committee
Players, Execs Testify at Hearing
Let me just say this--if we truly want to look into and attempt to prevent cheating in baseball, whether that be through performance enhancing drugs or not, we can't exclude Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi no matter the circumstances and how 'bout we ask Sammy about that corked bat?