Monday, January 26, 2009

With a brother like Jay, who needs enemies?

So, Jay McGwire is ratting out his brother Mark on the subject of steroids. Just another sad chapter in the demise of baseball, eh?

He says it’s for big brother Mark’s own good. That’s why he also needs a six-figure book deal. Couldn’t just do it in a letter to the editor of the New York Times. Got to get paid so his brother can repent. Get paid. Repent.

If you think this sounds crazy, take a peek at the excerpts of the book he’s shopping posted at . The repentance part is the killer here. Jay claims to be the first to shoot his brother up but he’s since found God and hopes to be his brother’s keeper while, it seems, making the talk show rounds and signing hardbacks at Barnes and Noble.

Which is more corrupt here – baseball or religion?

Or, publishing? Make no mistake, somebody will buy this trash, no matter how dreary the writing, and the writing, based on the excerpts, is dreary.

I was forced to read these excerpts, boiled down to a few terse sentences, about six thousand times in the crawl during the Winter X women’s half pipe snowboarder competition on ESPN. I hate the crawl, whether it is on MSNBC, CNN, FOX or ESPN. Call me old school, but I remember when the only thing on the screen was the game. Offer me a television that will eliminate the crawl and I’ll shell out whatever you want. I enjoy the crawl about as much as I enjoy watching a basketball player pound his chest after sinking an uncontested layup.

But enduring the Jay McGwire crawl was a special sort of agony for a man who saw a particular form of grace in Mark McGwire’s homerun swing. Tawdry is how it felt.

Of course, the idea that Mark McGwire was juiced is no surprise. Let's pause for some honesty. I teach ethics; I know what it means to rationalize so I’ll save you a litany of rationalizations. You save me the hypocrisy. I promise you this: If you had told me when I was younger a drug would buy me one day in the major leagues -- no matter what the physical or legal consequences – I’d have been on that drug like a duck on a bug. I won’t kid you, or me, about the truth. And that's the truth, Ruth.

The Mark McGwire ornament still swings from a low branch on my Christmas tree every year. I offer no apology for it.

Jay McGwire says he just wants to set his brother free. He doesn’t say he is sorry for getting his brother started on steroids; at least he doesn’t apologize in the portion he leaked to He does sweetly speculate maybe his brother wouldn’t have topped Maris if he hadn’t pushed the plunger. But, he says, “at least I feel better about setting the record straight.”

He feels better. Oh brother!

--John Lofflin

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