Stat! Stricken! They’re Out!

The Free Admission of Mark McGwire:  A Sad Reflection on Baseball

The St. Louis fandom’s screaming, standing ovation at last week’s Cardinal Winterfest indeed signaled “Mac is Back” in baseball (and what a chirping Redbird he is now!), ending a dubious miracle of time-lapse photography by which we (unlike McGwire’s Bud) can clearly see an emerging emergency.  First, Barry Bonds frustration at being anything but first fiddle bursts to stunning fruition during the elaborate staging of the Selig-produced “Mark McGwireSammy Sosa 1998 Saving Baseball Show.”

Next we view the rigged race to eternal fame and untold fortune.  This was an ugliness unfolding–Bonds’ simmering jealousies(described so tellingly in Mark Fainaru-Wada’s and Lance Williams’ Game of Shadows) and steroid-free frame becoming, by all accounts (see History of Devil’s Bargaining) too much psychologically and physically for him to bear,without scratching his fatal itch.  Now Mr.McGwire’s faux mea culpas not only reveal his own dormant mind-body dilemmas, but force me to take matters into my own hands, giving me just cause to utilize my Barry Code “stricken from the record clause” claws and literally remove Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and infamous others from the Code’s Batting Encyclopedia for their successful ruinations of baseball history.

After his recent belated admissions, the unnaturally Big Mac unleashed a volley of whiny regrets that centered on his own victimization:  the “steroid culture,” his body “breaking down”—even the “mistaken notion” of the public that his usage increased his home run totals!  Of course, mutually enabling and gifted manager Tony LaRussa tried to re-enforce the sullied slugger’s jaw-dropping claims about the unique swing and work ethic that will now be so generously shared with Albert Pujols and the rest of the needy Redbirds.

Those formerly secret and strangely ineffective PEDs that evidently had no part in propelling McGwire’s batted balls to previously unreached distances and numbers were only the beginning of his good natured, unabashed revisionist lies and delusions. When questioned about the possibility of clearing the air with George Mitchell in his 2007 report, McGwire, lost in circumspect retrospect, casually responded that aside from the fact that his lawyer had advised against it, “not one player, of course, had talked to Mitchell,” and closed the conversation pleading yet again his Congressional mantra, “Let’s all move on!”
“But when we look back, it’s funny: Frank Thomas really might have been the hero of the story.” Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated

Which brings us to Frank Thomas, the one player who did talk to Mitchell, the one player who railed most against rampant steroid use in baseball for years previous to 1998. As a critical matter of fact, ’98 was for Thomas, like Bonds, a year of decision for the leading batter of the ‘90s. As the great Bonds got second billing to the Slammin’ Sammy/Big Mac tour, despite his becoming the first player ever to pass the 400 HR/400 SB career combo, Thomas’s record eighth straight 100 RBI, 100 BB season was easily overlooked, especially since his average had slipped below .300 for the first time (.265).

The response to a somewhat lowered standing in the game could not have been more different.  For Bonds, it was thus (as written in the prologue of the resource-full Game of Shadows): “As the 1998 season unfolded, and as he watched Mark McGwire take over the game—his game—Barry Bonds decided that he, too, would begin using what he called ‘the shit.’”

Thomas’s concern was not the performances of McGwire, Sosa, or Bonds, but his own struggles: “This game has a way of humbling you. You have to work harder. You have to make adjustments.” And although Thomas would never recapture the full glory of his first seven seasons, he proudly batted and battled onward: a third MVP lost to that roid-using, law abusing Jason Giambi in 2000, finishing his fine career in the traditional manner hitters had always honorably attempted while facing the quickening pitches of Father Time. Surpassing 500 homers and .300 average should soon earn him a deserved place in Cooperstown.  With over 6000 Bases Batting and less than 6000 Outs Batting, the “Big Hurt” has already been ensconced in the BarryCode Batters Hall of Fame.

But what of the “juicers,” those obvious culprits who not only would shamelessly invade the Batters of Hall of Fame but also the innumerable leaders’ lists of the Batting Encyclopedia?  For all the years of airy talk that threatened “possible removal from the record books,” baseball’s policy of polite policing still extols the conspirators, further hallowing hollow records with Most Valuable Player and Silver Slugger awards.

What can be the code of the Code? If not a banishing, then a vanishing, a completely “out-of-site” penalty for such cheating.  Is there precedent for such umpiring? Aren’t these players innocent until proven guilty?  More pointedly, was McGwire culpable before his admission? A jury verdict of innocence didn’t prevent Judge Landis from sending Black Soxers into their exiles. For the sake of corrected chronicling, the BarryCode Batting Encyclopedia doesn’t need a court of law. That is why I can declare the righteous Judge Landis himself guilty for his “self-collusion,” historically preventing baseball’s integration with his one-man  prejudicial rule (another equally seamy diamond story).

So, armed with an opinion and a firm regard for the opinions of an informed baseball citizenry, I will strike the following “Dirty Dozen” from the records for contaminating our sacred pastime:

1. Barry Bonds
2. Mark McGwire
3. Sammy Sosa
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Rafael Palmeiro
6. Gary Sheffield
7. Jason Giambi
8. Miguel Tejada
9. Manny Ramirez
10. David Ortiz
11. Ken Caminiti
12. Jose Canseco

Much more to come–and many more to go!

Welcome back, Henry Aaron and Roger Maris-755 and 61, what magical numbers! And Happy January 31 birthday, Ernie Banks–again Cub all-time HR leader with 512, after Flintstone-chewing, bat-corking, English-challenged Sammy bids adieu again!  As far as McGwire goes,he doesn’t go far–no need to taint any career Cardinal list headed by Stan Musial with the name of a bogus Bash Brother.  Finally, don’t buy Bonds–the true Giant is still Willie Mays!

How can we see the brave new world of PED-free statistics on the BarryCode website?  Simply by pressing the NOPE (No Performance Enhancing) button on the BarryCode Decoder (bottom left on Home Page).

Note that all players, including the steroidal sluggers listed above, appear on Don Sevcik’s BarryCode lists, fueled by an ever vigilant logic and providing further fortuitous comparisons while maintaining his original vision for the BarryCode. I thank Don for indulging my reality on this issue and dedicate today’s blog to Carlton Fisk, ex-Sox socker who in retirement has finally been socking it to this guilty group of artificial record holders!

So let us close with our soothing words of the day: Stat! Stricken! They’re Out!

All input and output appreciated, Barry

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One Response to “Stat! Stricken! They’re Out!”

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