Thursday, January 28, 2010

18 comments Gene Wojciechowski Just Doesn't Give A Crap Anymore

I spend nearly every day of the week mocking some sportswriter somewhere for writing a column I don't like or think is bad journalism. The most frustrating columnists are those like Gregg Easterbrook who is just absolutely sure he is right, but he just isn't...or maybe someone like Bill Plaschke who probably doesn't even realize how terrible he is, so he writes every column with a great amount of confidence that he shouldn't have. You get the feeling they are trying to be good sportswriters, it's just not happening for them.

Sometimes I get the feeling Gene Wojciechowski isn't even trying anymore. The latest column he wrote is about Pete Rose (curiously I tagged him as Peter Rose when I first tagged his name and discussed him here) and Mark McGwire and the similarities they have. He mailed this one in. It's not well-researched or well-thought out in any fashion. It's just there for people to read if they get bored. Or it can be used in case someone has run out of toilet paper. Of course it's a short article, so it may not even be that useful as toilet paper.

I feel like Gene's editor told him to write an article about Mark McGwire and his thought process went like this:

"Mark McGwire isn't going to make the Hall of Fame any time soon. Pete Rose isn't going to make the Hall of Fame either. Both did things that baseball frowns upon, so there must be similarities between them, vague as they may be. Let's see if I can put a column together about this and blame Major League Baseball."

So that's what he did.

Mark McGwire is back in. But Pete Rose is still out?

Mark McGwire did not make the Hall of Fame, so he is not "back in" necessarily. He is on the ballot which is something Pete Rose can't say. Other than the fact both players are disgraced in the eyes of many fans and Major League Baseball there really aren't that many similarities in the situation of these two players. One was banned for gambling, the other used steroids and has been sort of unofficially blacklisted, except by his PED forgiving ex-manager Tony La Russa.

Major League Baseball continues its hit streak of hypocrisy.

Here is where there the entire column Gene writes here falls apart. There is no Major League Baseball hypocrisy. Pete Rose was found to gamble on baseball games, WHICH WAS SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED BY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WHEN HE GOT CAUGHT, while there was no such rule on the books when McGwire used steroids. So there was nothing inherently hypocritical in Major League Baseball for banning Rose when he broke a rule MLB had, but not punishing McGwire for breaking a rule not currently on the books of MLB.

Sure, maybe Major League Baseball should do something about McGwire being the hitting coach for the Cardinals but it really wouldn't make sense to punish him for violating a rule that wasn't a rule when he played. So the entire comparison between Rose and McGwire falls apart because there isn't a justifiable comparison between the two players and their wrong deeds.

Knowing this point, Gene's entire column falls apart. Yet, I will continue going forward...

How is it that McGwire receives a standing O from St. Louis Cardinals fans, but Rose still has his 68-year-old face pressed against MLB's window?

These are two completely different things. On one hand you have the fans reaction to Mark McGwire and on the other hand you have MLB's reaction to Pete Rose. If I am not wrong, Pete Rose got cheered in 1999 when he was introduced in Atlanta during the World Series. So given the fact they were both cheered by fans, the fan reaction to both is fairly similar. The difference in reaction by MLB to McGwire's transgression was very little to nothing because there is nothing MLB can do to permanently punish McGwire, while MLB's reaction to Pete Rose can be explained by the fact it is against the rules to gamble on games when affiliated with MLB. Hence, while Gene tries to combine the two reactions into a contradiction, there is no contradiction present.

McGwire not only goes directly from his self-imposed isolation tank to a big league coaching job, but he has Cards manager Tony La Russa running interference against anyone who thinks this is a bogus idea.

Major League Baseball may have a hard time controlling how Tony La Russa runs his baseball team and who he chooses for his coaches. So it's not exactly MLB's fault that La Russa continues to run interference for his PED-connected players. Again, Mark McGwire hasn't been banned from baseball for life, while Pete Rose has. So there is the difference in these two players Gene is looking for and feels the need to ignore.

Meanwhile, Rose, who has forgotten more about hitting than McGwire will ever know, remains an outcast. Huh?

Pete Rose has forgotten more about hitting than Mark McGwire will ever know? Gene does realize that Mark McGwire is a Hall of Fame caliber player, based on his steroid aided statistics of course, and was a good hitter? I hope he realizes this.

They both compromised the game and they both suffered irreparable harm to their reputations. But somehow Rose's baseball sins are mortal and McGwire's are venial.

Venial? That's some fancy words Gene is trying to distract us from the substance of the article with. I can see how someone who has a hard and fast stance against steroids would disagree with this statement, but Pete Rose literally messed with the integrity of the game, while Mark McGwire didn't do it to the degree Rose did. Pete Rose was a man in a position to control the outcome of games, while Mark McGwire mostly controlled the outcome of his at-bats.

I know steroids are not exactly like other forms of cheating like scuffing the ball, throwing a spitball or using sand paper, but really the result is the same. The difference in Pete Rose and Mark McGwire is the difference in one person cheating in a college English class and the English professor grading the papers in a way to control the outcome of what students get what grades. Steroids are micro-level cheating while gambling on baseball is macro-level cheating...especially when a MLB manager is the one doing the gambling.

Just so there's no confusion, Rose was a creep. He gambled on baseball games, got caught and then lied through every one of his Charlie Hustle teeth for nearly 15 years.

So if Mark McGwire was Pete Rose, he would keep publicly denying the use of steroids and then when he is trying to sell a book come clean in 2013 in order to get publicity for his book and get back in the good graces of baseball. According to Gene, this is a suitable idea.

Just so there is no confusion, what Pete Rose did was specifically prohibited by MLB, while steroids were not specifically prohibited at the time McGwire claims he took them. Also, so there is no more confusion, gambling on the outcome of baseball games when you are in an authority position is much more serious than an individual player on a baseball team cheating. It sucks and I don't like it either, but I feel it to be true.

He violated the game's most sacred rule and was thrown out of the profession like a scuffed ball gets tossed aside by a plate umpire.

Yet, while saying all of this, Gene Wojciechowski still can't figure out why Major League Baseball is treating Pete Rose and Mark McGwire differently. One violated baseball's most sacred rule and the other violated baseball's non-existent at-the-time steroid policy.

Rose finally admitted he bet on baseball in 2004. Doesn't matter. The MLB-issued lifetime restraining order prohibits him from coming within a foul pole of the game.

What Rose should have done is this: Take illegal steroids and performance enhancers, deceive baseball fans, make millions of tainted dollars, cheat the record book and the Roger Maris family, press the truth mute button, go into hiding and then reappear five years later with tears in his eyes and a confession with more holes than a catcher's mask.

Actually yes, perhaps Pete Rose should have done that instead since there isn't a rule banning PED users for life and there is a rule banning anyone affiliated with MLB who gambles on baseball games for life. Perhaps Pete Rose should have taken illegal steroids (though there is almost no doubt in my mind he took some "greenies" or some other substance that is a borderline PED...a lot of the players took them in his time) and then apologized a few years later. He didn't do this though. He gambled on baseball and lied about it repeatedly. I would like to see him in the Hall of Fame since I think the "character clause" that often gets brought up in relation to Rose and PED users is a joke.

Also, I am sick and tired of the "McGwire went into hiding" act the media has put on McGwire. He retired from baseball, he doesn't have to face the media and their inane questions while he is retired if he doesn't want to. The media isn't a court of law where a person HAS to speak to them and clear his name to avoid punishment, though it often seems that way and the media feels like a person isn't truly coming clean until that person's entire life story has been told publicly.

So in summation, regardless of the type of cheating that had taken place, gambling on baseball had the punishment of being banned for life, while there was no such punishment for PED use. That's the bottom line.

To McGwire's credit, at least he admitted the obvious and apologized. Still, how come Rose's gambling admission in 2004 makes no difference to MLB, but McGwire's recent admission of steroid use (nearly six years after his embarrassing congressional appearance) results in a welcome-back hug from the league office?

Well dumbass, I mean Gene, it's because what Rose admitted to was exactly what got him banned for life from baseball. So Rose was essentially admitting to the crime that got him banned, while there was no such ban for admitting PED use since McGwire isn't currently an active player. This argument is like saying a convicted murderer should be able to avoid the rest of his sentence simply because he admits what everyone already knows AFTER he is sentenced, that he killed a certain amount of people. You don't get credit for admitting to your crime after you have been punished for said crime. In the case of McGwire, there is no available punishment for him that could come from MLB at this point.

Not everyone is thrilled with Big Mac's return. Since McGwire's Confession Lite, Hall of Famers such as Carlton Fisk and Ferguson Jenkins have ripped him.

There is nothing like Carlton Fisk questioning how McGwire put up great numbers at the age of 34 when Fisk was putting up lines like 37 HR, 107 RBI, 17 SB, .238/.320/.488 as a 37 year old catcher.

Or how Fisk hit 18 HR, 74 RBI, .241/.299/.413 as a 43 year old catcher. That's also a 43 year old catcher that played 106 games behind the plate. No, those numbers aren't suspicious at all and I am sure it's just because Fisk had new exercises he did and took care of his body.

Carlton Fisk probably isn't the best person to question others about fishy numbers in their mid to late 30's. To be honest, if those numbers occurred during the Steroid Era he would be a prime suspect.

Soon, McGwire will report to spring training as the team's new hitting instructor. He gets to wear a major league uniform again. He gets to do what he loves.

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T GET A LIFETIME BAN FROM BASEBALL! There was a specific rule that said, "Don't fucking bet on baseball or you will be banned for life from the game." Shoeless Joe Jackson fell under this rule and he isn't in the Hall of Fame either. There was a rule and Pete Rose broke it. There was no such rule for McGwire. End of story.

Not Rose. The all-time hits leader (his career .303 batting average is 40 points higher than McGwire's)

Well that means Pete Rose is a much better baseball player than Mark McGwire. Mark McGwire had 423 more home runs than Pete Rose and had a higher lifetime on base percentage (.394 to .375). What does this mean? Nothing. Gene is trying to distract us by trying to remind us that Pete Rose was a great baseball player.

This isn't about the Hall of Fame. The moment Rose made a bet on baseball is the moment he forever forfeited his bronze plaque. McGwire should be held to an identical standard.

Except for the fact McGwire's crime was completely different and didn't have the same penalty attached to it, this statement makes sense. You can't hold two different crimes with two different penalties to an identical standard. Life just doesn't work that way.

Rose gambled. McGwire juiced. Both cheated.

Yes, both cheated. One person cheated and violated a baseball rule that goes back 100 years and the other cheated and violated the public trust and will never make the Hall of Fame or have credibility in the minds of many baseball fans. Both have gotten punished in their own way, and regardless of whether you think Pete Rose should be reinstated (I think he should be in the Hall of Fame but in the special "cheaters" wing that will eventually have to be opened), you have to admit he got a lifetime ban and if the commissioner doesn't want to overturn it, Pete Rose hasn't given him a reason to.

If Selig is going to embrace McGwire's explanation and apology, then he has to do the same for Rose. It's time to end the double standard endorsed by the commissioner's office and MLB.

It's not a double standard if the crime each person committed doesn't have the same penalty because they are separate crimes, albeit with the same result of breaking the public trust. Bud Selig hasn't embraced McGwire's explanation and apology, he just doesn't have much recourse to do anything about McGwire's PED use. He can suspend him, but McGwire would be back eventually and that just prolongs the problem. He can't ban him for life from the game unless he wants to be sued. What permanent punishment can Selig enact on McGwire since he didn't break a baseball rule in place when he used PEDs?

I don't know if it's the right thing to do, but it's the fair thing to do. You can't give McGwire a second chance, but ignore Rose's plea for reinstatement.

You absolutely can. If we are going to be straight by the book, Bud Selig has precedent to ignore Rose's pleas for reinstatement. No commissioner before Selig reinstated Rose and the fact Rose admitted to gambling on baseball to sell books shouldn't convince Selig to do so.

You can't hug one cheater, but stiff-arm the other.

The fact both players cheated doesn't mean the punishment for the cheating was or should be the same. Both players cheated but they cheated in completely different ways that required different punishments from MLB.

Rose has groveled, begged and pleaded for forgiveness. He even sells T-shirts on his Web site that read, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball."

Yet again, Rose is trying to make money off the fact he bet on baseball. The fact Rose wants to make a profit off his lifetime ban doesn't help him seem like he is the type of person who is contrite and serious about it.

I don't know if my opinion would change if Rose gave out T-shirts that read, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball," but I know the fact he is SELLING the T-shirts doesn't help him too much.

McGwire issued a statement to The Associated Press and agreed to a handful of sit-down interviews, but has yet to do a full news conference (the recent six-minute fiasco in St. Louis doesn't count). Put it this way: McGwire hasn't gone through the full truth car wash.

You mean other than his interviews with Bob Costas, Tim Kurkjian, and ESPN's own "Outside the Lines?" I can't help but wonder what questions these guys didn't ask McGwire which Gene Wojciechowski wanted answered? Maybe if Gene had any credibility in the world of a known cheater like Mark McGwire, he could get his own sit-down with McGwire, but I have a feeling that would never happen.

Yes, Rose betrayed the game by gambling on baseball. There's no way around that elephant in the middle of the dugout. But McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte -- admitted PED users -- betrayed a similar trust.

Yes, they both betrayed a trust. It's the difference in someone stealing your car and stealing your wife. The theft remains the same but the penalty for both is different. Pete Rose stole our car while Mark McGwire stole our wife.

But who knows if Giamatti wouldn't have softened his own stance over 20-plus years? Anyway, Giamatti made a decision on his own. Selig is secure enough to do the same when it comes to Rose.

And he has. He's kept Pete Rose banned from the game. Decision made.

Rose made his major league debut in 1963, the same year McGwire was born. McGwire made his major league debut in 1986, the same year Rose played his final game.

Holy shit! They must be cosmically linked then! Bud Selig you must immediately de-ban Pete Rose from baseball because he is cosmically linked to another baseball player who was a cheater! It's written in the stars, it must be done!

So they are linked by years, by scandals and by confessions.

Yet they are not linked by baseball rules that guide the punishments for both players. Herein lies the problem with Gene's argument.

If Selig does the right thing, Rose and McGwire will be linked by 2010, too: the season they both returned from exile.

Weak. If I can criticize an entire article arguing a point with one sentence,

"Pete Rose and Mark McGwire are in different situations because there was a lifetime ban as punishment for those who gamble on baseball in place when Rose was caught gambling on baseball, and there was no penalty on the books for players who use PEDs when McGwire admitted to PED use after he retired."

Then you know it is a weak argument.

-Speaking of bad ass things to do, Bryant Gumble randomly accused Jeff Bagwell, Nomar Garciaparra, and Ivan Rodriguez of using steroids. I think that's awesome. I wasn't aware we could just randomly name people who we think used steroids without repercussion (That whole Raul Ibanez thing last summer sort of caused me to think this). Since I am feeling chipper, here's my partial list of players I think (but have no proof so I am not saying I am right) used steroids or some other PED:

Jeff Bagwell
Ivan Rodriguez
Nomar Garciaparra
Marcus Giles
Brian Giles
Javy Lopez (the catcher)
Kevin Brown (it sounds far fetched, I am aware of this)
Brady Anderson (for one year...maybe)
Gary Sheffield
Raul Mondesi
Jim Thome (though I hope not)
Albert Belle
Mike Hampton (again, it sounds far fetched)

That's just a partial list and I will hopefully think of some more in the comments.


Fred Trigger said...

Gabe Kaplar
Craig Biggio
Rickey Henderson
Cal Ripken Jr.
Greg Vaughn (not sure if he was on the list)
John Jaha
Vinny Castilla
Matt Stairs

When he implies Rose was a better hitter, it reminded me of a thread at BBTF few years ago. The author stated that he didnt think Jim Thome should be a HOFer. The discussion then somehow turned into who was a better hitter, McGwire or Tony Gwynn. Thats hitter, not player. The guy who authored the original article said he would take Gwynn. I dont know about you guys, but I would take McGwire every day of the week.

Fred Trigger said...

On an unrelated note, I'm listening to the radio and Michael Felger and Tony Massaroti are saying the pats should take Tebow in the 2nd round because he is a "gamer", a "locker room guy", "wont put up fantasy numbers like moss", and plays "the patriots way". And the freaking callers are agreeing with them.

Fred Trigger said...

Oh yeah "and knows how to win."

The Casey said...

Frank Thomas
Brady Anderson
Dante Bichette

Fred Trigger said...

see I dont think Frank Thomas did, because he was always a big ass mofo.

It looks like he just got fat, more than anything.

Fred Trigger said...

"Tim Tebow = Doug Flutie with talent." I will fight that to the end. There is no way Tebow will have half the career Flutie did.

Sorry, I'm just hearing so much stupid shit right now, I just have to share. Jesus, I wish I would've known, I would've live blogged this thing.

The Casey said...

Yeah, he played TE at Auburn. But couldn't he have been using all along, instead of just as he got older?

And he was a big ass mofo. That was kind of my point.

What about Ron Gant?
Bobby Bonilla

Fred Trigger said...

I think the joke with Thomas was that when his mother gave birth to him, he came out as 6ft tall and weighed 220lbs.

Fred Trigger said...

From a Caller: "I think you guys are high if you think Tebow is going 22. His intangibles alone will put him in the top 10, at worst 12."

Wow, and the hosts are high?

KentAllard said...

Tebow is getting drafted high because he "knows how to win"? I would like to point out my high school team was 9-1 my senior year. Just because I was by far the worst player on the team doesn't mean I shouldn't have an NFL contract.

That being said, I can't guarantee the Raiders won't draft Tebow, given their recent track record.

Fred Trigger said...

Shit, I place 7th in the NH State Tournament. Maybe I should have my PGA tour card.

Fred Trigger said...

My team finished 2nd, though. Maybe thats why I never got a card in the mail.

Bengoodfella said...

Wow Fred, you may have just set the record for "most posts in the comments of one's own blog." Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I forgot about Castilla. I don't know if I would take Rose over McGwire as a hitter or not. I think I may take McGwire, but I didn't see much of Rose when he played.

I forgot Biggio but I actually don't believe Griffey was a user.

I am completely torn on Frank Thomas. He was a big guy which as Fred and Casey were discussing, is a good point for/against Thomas being on PEDs.

I am afraid our Tebow nightmare has begun and it will only get worse. He can bring all the intangibles he wants into the locker room but the bottom line is that real scouts who have watched him for his skill, not who he is, have real questions about him. He's a project and you don't bring a project on a team for intangibles.

Like I said, if Tebow was a jerk no one would draft him until the 5th round. There is something to be said for his teammates liking him but it will take a patient and brave team to take him 1st round and expect him to play quarterback well in his 1st/2nd year. That's just my opinion.

Bengoodfella said...

He may be decent but a 1st round QB has to be a franchise guy, he can't be just decent.

The Casey said...

I think Tebow's a second rounder. Maybe Seattle, who's going to need someone in a year or two?

A question I have is what exactly constitutes a PED? How does Adam LaRoche taking ADD drugs to improve his concentration and focus not count? Or Tommy John surgery? How is that not the same, qualitatively? Someone's body has broken down to the point that they can't play the game, so they get body parts replaced, and that's better than taking drugs to help you recover from injury quicker?

Bengoodfella said...

Casey, that's a good question and one I don't have an answer for. I guess baseball differentiates between a PED that helps strength and conditioning wise and a PED that helps a person with a condition that they deal with in their personal life like ADD?

It's a good point though. A surgery like Tommy John would help a person play better longer. I don't know exactly where the line is. I think MLB thinks there is a difference in performance enhancers and surgeries/drugs that help a person play baseball again after an injury. It's a good question.

Fred Trigger said...

heh, yeah, sorry for taking over the comments section. You gotta admit, that is pretty ridiculous, though. The funny thing was, today Scott Zolak actually was the voice of reason. I dont know how much you know about him, but he is effin nuts, so that speaks volumes to me when he is the voice of reason.

Bengoodfella said...

Hey, take over the comments section whenever you want to. There is nothing wrong with it. I liked the commentary on the talk radio commentary you gave.