I realize this question may be a bit out of, ahem, left field for me (Am I getting my sports metaphor right?) I am not a baseball fan. I don’t dislike baseball, but I just don’t follow it. I couldn’t even tell you who won the last world series!
But I have been totally fascinated by this whole baseball and steroids issue. I devoured all the San Francisco Chronicle exposes on Barry Bonds, and tried to follow, as much as I had time for, the 2005 Senate hearings at which former Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire refused to answer questions about steroid use during his playing career.
And on Monday, we had McGwire’s tear-filled apology press blitz. Arranged by former George W. Bush secretary Ari Fleischer, according to the New York Times. (Rolling my eyes on that one). And we heard from La Russa, saying he had no idea at all until Monday that McGwire was using steroids. La Russa was McGwire’s manager when he was both in Oakland and St. Louis.
As I said, La Russa is a local hero for establishing the Animal Rescue Foundation, the well-regarded Walnut Creek-based nonprofit that bears his name.
But does La Russa’s denial of knowing anything about McGwire’s steroid use ring true, and does it tarnish La Russa’s good guy image? Some baseball fan bloggers are highly skeptical of La Russa’s denial, and even disappointed and angry about it.
From MLB Fanhouse’s Terrence Moore’s column, McGwire, La Russa not fooling anybody:
It’s nice that Mark McGwire finally admitted on Monday what everybody already knew years a go. Plus, you’re always better off telling the truth — no matter how long you’ve perpetuated a blatant lie, but none of this matters. …
… This is disgusting. I’m talking about everything, ranging from McGwire remaining a coward by announcing through a printed statement to the Associated Press that he spent parts of a decade slamming all of those home runs with a boost from steroids (surprise, surprise) to St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa continuing to insult our intelligence in so many ways.
Let’s get La Russa’s silliness out of the way. To hear him tell it, he hadn’t a clue that McGwire was swinging and juicing throughout his career. He said he only discovered as much when McGwire phoned him on Monday with the news — you know, presumably either before or after La Russa realized the Earth was round.
This is the same La Russa who was McGwire’s manager during his first 10 seasons in the major leagues with the Oakland Athletics and his last five with the Cardinals. This is the same La Russa with a prominent law degree, which would make you think he is fairly observant — maybe enough to see that somebody he was around nearly every day for 15 seasons was growing from a skinny little thing into Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. This is the same La Russa who told ESPN, “I’m really encouraged that [McGwire] would step forward. As we go along, his explanations will be well received.”
Guess La Russa really does think the Earth is flat. Either that, or he wants the rest of us to believe as much.