Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


The Right Thing for Mark McGwire*

posted by Scot McKnight

Mark McGwire, who some years back embarrassed himself in front of our country’s highest legislators, says now the time is right for him to come clean and admit that he used steroids to enhance his physical abilities during his incredible home-run slugging seasons. In particular, he used steroids when he broke the HR record. 

Admission is the first step.
I have two more suggestions:
First, McGwire needs to ask the Commissioner to remove his name from HR records and wipe his name clean out of the books. His enhanced body lifted his performance ability beyond what was expected of him, and also what the game and record books request — just for a player to compete his best level his body can offer. No more. No less. He gave us “more.” If he really is confessing, then he will not himself want to live with his name on the record books.
Second, the Commissioner needs to — indeed must — assess McGwire’s offenses and assign a penalty. It is not enough for McGwire simply to offer this late-in-the-game and just-before-he-becomes-a-coach apology. Something has to be done to exact justice to the game, to the fans, and to the teams that lost games because McGwire was ramped up on drugs. We will be glad to forgive McGwire but I think he should be willing to remind the fans that he participated in the steroid era. Would it be too much to ask that on the back of his jersey we add an asterisk? McGwire*


From SI.com:

“I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize,” McGwire said in his statement. “I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the nineties, including during the 1998 season. I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.

“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry. Baseball is really different now — it’s been cleaned up. The Commissioner and the Players Association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.”



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Comments read comments(26)
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Pat

posted January 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm


Is there a penalty for lying before Congress or was he even under oath?



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Danderson

posted January 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm


I hope the same will be said about Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and other “stars” who have abused the system. I don’t think McGwire acted alone. Where have you gone Hank Aaron….



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Mark Mathewson

posted January 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm


First, for full disclosure, I’m a life long Cardinals fan (sorry Scot!).
Second, I agree that it would be good for McGwire to request his records be stricken from the books (though I doubt MLB would do it) and that MLB should enact some appropriate “penalty” for McGwire’s actions. However, I’m not too sure about the asterisk thing. It sounds like a scarlet letter of sorts and wonder how well that comports with the Jesus Creed (sorry, again, Scot – couldn’t resist that little dig).
Finally, I was encouraged to learn that McGwire called Pat Marris (Roger Marris’ widow) today and apologized to her. Amidst the disgrace of all this, that was admirable.



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Mark Mathewson*

posted January 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm


It’s ‘Maris’ not ‘Marris.’ Sorry about that.



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Bill

posted January 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm


Folks, I can’t help but disagree. When McGwire was hitting all those HRs, his behavior might have been reprehensible, but it was fully within the rules at the time – steroids were not banned by baseball at that time. Besides, many other “entertainment” professions allow for artificial enhancements. If plastic surgery were banned by Hollywood, or airbrushing banned by magazines, there would be no actors to watch. Equipment is another category. Baseball at least has rules against corked bats. In golf and tennis, technology has made players better than they really are.
Oh, and… how many researchers (and theologians) rely on search engines and software to make their job easier and publishing cycle faster? Dare I mention the widespread use of legal stimulants such as coffee and nicotine to improve intellectual clarity and endurance? I think criticism of performance-enhancing substances in sports as somehow violating the “spirit of competition” flies in the face of what most people do every day, and other competitive professions allow. I could see it, perhaps, in amateur (such as Olympic and NCAA) competition, but when you turn pro… your body is yours to manage. You get paid to entertain. The “spirit of competition” is nothing more than an illusion to keep us all fans and spending our money on tickets and merchandise.
I don’t think McGwire owes anybody an apology. He’s a sports entrepreneur who happened to lose a gamble on the market value of clean public perception.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm


Mark, I thought of that Jesus Creed line too but I think McGwire needs to be a constant reminder to the fans.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm


Bill, I think McGwire disagrees with you and he thinks what he did was wrong. He regrets it.



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Marcys

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:03 pm


Pat #1 – McGwire refused to say anything when before Congress, so unlike the others (e.g., Sammy Sosa), he didn’t commit perjury.
I too, like Bill, think nothing should be done. It’s very clear that baseball didn’t care. If they cared, there would have been testing. I am a huge baseball fan. If anything, their lack of testing policy encouraged these guys to do steroids (not that it makes their actions ok).
I have a huge problem with punishing McGwire when baseball turned a blind eye, whether its by removing his records or not voting for him for the Hall of Fame. Also, what percentage of his opponents used steroids? We’ll never know. Did Curt Shilling or Randy Johnson use steroids? What about Ken Griffey Jr or Frank Thomas? They weren’t named by Canseco or anyone else at this point, but we’ll never know. This era is tainted, but the tainting is so pervasive that everyone should be treated the same.



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Marcus

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:04 pm


Sorry I typed my name wrong in the comment above



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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm


Marcus, OK, I accept that Selig didn’t care enough to do anything about it. But, we’ve got to respect McGwire’s own words: he thinks he did something wrong, and most people agree with him that he did something wrong, and it destroys the integrity of the game, the level playing field of competition, so it’s wrong — whether explicitly banned or not. The fact is that instinct says McGwire was wrong, and he admits to that instinct.
I could add one more: Maybe McGwire should call Sammy Sosa and ask him to come clean, and then Sammy could do the same … and within a month we could put this all behind us.
In the annals of sports history, the steroid era will be an embarrassment.



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Marcus

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm


I agree that McGwire did something wrong. I think, though, that baseball should have to face some consequences too. I think that the appropriate consequence would be allowing the records to remain. McGwire is never going to get into the Hall, (even though I think he should) which is punishment enough in my mind.



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Kyle Nolan

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm


1. I agree that as far as the record books go, McGwire’s steroid use should be noted, but with an asterisk as Maris’s was because he passed the record in more games. If he didn’t break the rules, he didn’t break the rules. I still think it’s wrong, but not enough to strike his name from the books.
2. Where is the grace in suggesting that he should have an asterisk on his jersey? I honestly find that suggestion a bit offensive. Mark McGwire was a great baseball player, steroids or no steroids. Steroids can’t make you hit like he hit when he was playing clean. Besides that, he’s apologized. Let him start with a clean slate as a hitting coach, and make his reputation through that.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm


Kyle, I agree with you that he has to be forgiven and I’ll stand in line to shake his hand in appreciation for his confession, but don’t you think some kind of penalty is to be paid? It seems a fitting justice, though, for McGwire to wear an asterisk for (unfairly) supplanting Maris, whose name will forever be connected (unfairly I think) to an asterisk.



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AHH

posted January 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm


The problem with the baseball authorities punishing McGwire (in addition to what others have already pointed out about their complicity) is that they want to encourage such “coming clean”. Or at least that is what they should want.
If people like Bonds, Sosa, Clemens et al. don’t confess (i.e., continue to lie), there isn’t any justification for punishing them (maybe Bonds if he is criminally convicted). So punishing those who confess would create more of an incentive for the remaining dozens or hundreds of cheaters to continue their denial.
But I do sort of like the idea of self-imposed penance. Maybe donating endorsement money from those years to an anti-drug charity. Maybe asking writers not to vote for him for the Hall of Fame.



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mike

posted January 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm


really? an asterisk on his jerseys? this article smells like a cubs fan wrote it. he admitted he was wrong. he apologized. do christians suddenly get to judge others simply because their screwups happened in our favorite sports?
and there’s this: the league turned a blind eye on all this garbage because season-long home run derbies were saving the game. how can he be punished (as you’re suggesting) by a league that didn’t ban steroids until a few years ago?
what he did was wrong. he’s (finally) admitted it and apologized. let it be and show some (real) forgiveness.



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Mike M

posted January 12, 2010 at 12:00 am


What a person puts into his or her own body is no one else’s business. On the other hand, if McGwire signed a pledge promising not to use performance-enhancing drugs, then that is a violation of a contract or pledge and is definitely a sin. The ancient Israelites understood this better than most modern-day Christians.
Where do we draw the line? Whey protein supplementation increases performance. Too much can result in kidney or other metabolic damages. Creatine boosts performance but is a totally natural chemical found in abundance in meats. Are we going to ban beef? What about working out on Nautilus equipment to gain a performance edge? How about a female athlete on birth control pills (female hormones)? Getting pregnant would assuredly interfere with performance. Large numbers of athletes perform visualization exercises to increase performance. Some of those exercises border on occult practices. Are we going to ban them too? And the issue isn’t just one of whether steroids cause physical damages and should therefore be banned: lifting weights results in more injuries than steroids. In fact steroids help protect against weight-lifting injuries.



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Kyle Nolan

posted January 12, 2010 at 12:07 am


I think he has been punished, really. I don’t think anyone respected him as much as we had. Even before he officially admitted it, we respected him less. We all knew when he testified but wouldn’t say what he had taken that he had done steroids, and we saw him differently. I think he’s felt guilty for what he did. I think he’s felt shame for it. Let that be penalty enough. I don’t think we need to require him to bear the mark of that shame on his jersey. Even if they do strike his records (I don’t honestly care if they do or don’t. Give him an extra asterisk to distinguish his record from Maris’ if you want) we shouldn’t penalize him.
Somehow we’re failing to respect that he never lied. I don’t believe for a second that Sosa or Bonds didn’t use steroids, and they both said they didn’t. McGwire, under advice from an attorney, didn’t admit it, but he didn’t say otherwise. He didn’t lie. And now he came clean.
There’s been a trend in sports and celebrity to admit what you did, but not take the blame for it. Serena Williams is one example here. But McGwire admitted it fully, took the blame and the shame and the guilt. As far as I’m concerned, that’s enough.
I think the comparison to the Scarlet Letter is appropriate. That’s what an asterisk on his jersey would be, and I think we can agree that the scarlet letter wasn’t ok.



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Rick

posted January 12, 2010 at 7:17 am


Mike M-
“What a person puts into his or her own body is no one else’s business.”
Really? Are people so isolated that it has no impact on others, or that people should not care?
“Where do we draw the line?”
Exactly. So where do you think the line should be drawn? When is it no longer sport or athletics (if baseball has athletes ;^), but rather more about all the external factors that are “helping” people?
“And the issue isn’t just one of whether steroids cause physical damages and should therefore be banned”
Yes it is. And not just physical damage, but perhaps mental damage as well.
A good rule of thumb may be across-the-board medical approval of all suppliments, PED’s and other elements, and their specific LEVELS (your mentioning protein is a good example).
Let’s not ruin sports by throwing open the door and only giving “victories” to only those who take such dangerous risks, rather than to those who are trying to succeed in the natural spirit of their sport(s).



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Scot McKnight

posted January 12, 2010 at 7:57 am


Well, perhaps one way to say something else about the added asterisk is that there are consequences for bad decisions. Forgiveness does not always entail the elimination of consequences.



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Lukas McKnight

posted January 12, 2010 at 9:12 am


I’m not in on this one.
I think if you start asking people to wipe people out of the record books for cheating, you’re going to have to wipe a couple of generations of players for the use of amphetamines. As with McGwire, there was no MLB rule breaking, but there’s plenty of ethical (and health related) arguments against it.
Baseball has a long history of cheating- some are celebrated, and some scandalized (google Bobby Thompson’s HR had you’d find some evidence of cheating there as well). We’ll continue to do our best to expose cheating and keep it out of the game, but I don’t think you can erase the history of everyone that’s cheated in baseball.



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Your Name

posted January 12, 2010 at 9:23 am


Scot said:
“Well, perhaps one way to say something else about the added asterisk is that there are consequences for bad decisions. Forgiveness does not always entail the elimination of consequences.”
I fully agree. And if Mark McGwire is or becomes a follower of Christ, I think the asterisk will mean very little to him or anyone in the life to come. Is that too heavy or spiritual for this post?



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michaeldanner

posted January 12, 2010 at 10:46 am


McGwire said he was wrong and feels guilty for using steroids. It’s clear that he feels he violated the spirit of the game and the spirit of competitive athletics (although the lines are getting very blurry in our era of high-tech, performance enhancing, substances that anyone can buy at GNC). My big question is, why isn’t there more outrage directed towards MLB? You mean they are so behind the times that they JUST realized that athletes use steroids. I can appreciate that he feels bad, because in the court of public opinion he did something he shouldn’t have done. I also think MLB should be held accountable for the active role they played in turning a blind eye to this problem. You’re a fool to think that MLB was a passive player in this. They are smart enough to know what’s going on and they intentionally choose to do nothing long past the time when average folks knew this was a problem. Therefore, to strip McGwire of his records is wrong. Why? Because the organizing body that sets the rules for competition, MLB, said, through their rules and lack of rules, that what he did wasn’t wrong. On one hand, the game is played on the field of public opinion. But the record books record what happened on the baseball field under the rules of MLB.



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Josh Tinley

posted January 12, 2010 at 10:53 am


1. I agree that as far as the record books go, McGwire’s steroid use should be noted, but with an asterisk as Maris’s was because he passed the record in more games

The Maris asterisk never actually existed. Then commissioner Ford Frick (himself a big Babe Ruth fan) argued that there should be some mark in the record books, but no such mark was ever made. (At the time baseball had no official rule book per se.)
I actually wrote a chapter on this subject in my book, Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports (Pilgrim Press 2009), which I am now shamelessly plugging:
http://www.cokesbury.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=794312
http://www.amazon.com/Kneeling-End-Zone-Spiritual-Lessons/dp/0829818421



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Chris

posted January 12, 2010 at 11:40 am


I am going to have to side with Lukas on this one. While cheating is morally unacceptable while McGwire was at his prime it was not technically cheating. Also, you have to hold all of MLB accountable because they were complicit during the “steroids era” and made a lot of money off of juiced up players like McGwire and Bonds whose superhuman powers brought more fans and more money to each game. Also if you begin talking about taking away records and what constitutes “performance enhancing” it is much more complex than just taking a couple of pills. What about Doc Ellis’ no hitter that was pitched on acid: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vUhSYLRw14) . Or what about Tommy John surgery in which a healthy tendon is taken (sometimes from the player sometimes from another body) and surgerically “tied” to an elbow to replace a broken or frayed tendon. This is a complex issue that cannot be solved by pointing the finger at one person.



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Erik Halverson

posted January 12, 2010 at 11:46 am


I definitely think he was remorseful, and I’m all for forgiving someone, but there seemed to be plenty of BS in his answers. This espn article brings up some good points.
He doesn’t believe steroids had anything to do with his 70 homeruns. Really? Why apologize then?
He insisted he felt the record was authentic, but why would he bother calling the Maris family?
He doesn’t remember the name of what he took, but he took it on a consistent basis for at least five years. Really?
“This quote by Jayson Stark pretty much sums up how I feel:
Can he really believe that the steroids he took had nothing to do with those 70 home run trots he made that summer? Wow.
Has he really convinced himself there wasn’t the slightest connection between the drugs he took and the baseballs he kept mashing off distant scoreboards and innocent skyscrapers? Whew.
Come on, Mark. Can you really have been that naive? Can you really still be that naive?”



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Mich

posted January 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm


What I don’t understand about the Steroid Era in Baseball–is it even really over?–is WHY Fans don’t get reimbursed for being cheated?



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