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Friday, February 18, 2005

Baseball fever

Here's my favorite Globe headline of the week: "Pitchers and catchers report." That link, by the way, takes you to a photo slide show of Red Sox pitchers (and maybe some catchers). Curt Schilling is featured in many, as is new acquisition David Wells.

One outfielder also showed up: 1988 MVP runner-up Mike Greenwell. He finished behind Jose Canseco in that year's award voting, and now thinks that he was cheated. So he's giving some interviews and gaining some publicity.

Given the revelations of this off-season, a lot of baseball fans are having some doubts about their favorite players. In 1987, my first year of rotissiere baseball, I drafted Oakland rookie 1B/3B Mark McGwire in the 24th round. I think we had 10 teams, which would have made him at best the 217th player picked. McGwire went on to hit 49 HRs that season -- and I had a championship team and favorite player (though he didn't completely supplant boyhood hero George Brett and he has been replaced by Jim Thome, who remains active).

Anyway, Canseco fingered Mark McGwire as a steroid user.

Press reports
are starting to address this claim. These quotes are from the same article, though I've left out a few paragraphs:
Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is one of many who have defended McGwire. Duncan, who was on the Oakland A's staff when McGwire broke into the majors and in St. Louis with McGwire retired, knows McGwire as a man who was relentless in his workout habits.

"You look at Mark and he is a specimen of a man and I personally don't think it came from building substances,'' Duncan said. "I think it came from hard work and I think it came from a guy who really nutritionally and physically took care of his body and improved his body.''

On Sunday, McGwire released his strongest statement denying the accusations.

"Once and for all, I did not use steroids or an other illegal substance,'' he wrote. "I feel sorry to see someone turn to such drastic measures to accomplish a personal agenda at the expense of so many.''

Tony La Russa, who managed both players in Oakland for nearly a decade and McGwire in St. Louis, called the allegations a "fabrication'' while interviewed for the "60 Minutes'' segment, a claim he repeated in an article he wrote that appeared in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle.

"Mark McGwire's historic career did not involve the use of illegal or unethical performance-enhancing substances,'' La Russa wrote. "Canseco's credibility has steadily declined to the point of zero.''
I hope this is the truth.

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