Hello again everybody...
The hits keep on a-comin'...
I thought the weekend was chock full of news! But apparently the news truly never stops. There were a couple more major bombs yet to fall over the last couple of days.
Naturally, I feel the need to rant and ramble a bit about both of them.
I see no reason to dawdle...
Off we go!
”The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything - or nothing.”
- Nancy Astor (1879 - 1964), the first woman to sit as a Member of parliament in the British House of Commons.
What a coincidence?! Today we're discussing two gentlemen. One who wants to change nothing, and the other who wants to change everything. How fortuitous!
Big Mac says he's sorry...
… but I'm not sure I buy it.
Mark McGwire now admits that he used steroids “off and on during the 90's” including during his historic run in 1998 when he broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record.
Naturally, no one's surprised by his admission. After the third or fourth time that he told members of Congress “I'm not here to talk about the past” in 2005, it became obvious that he'd used, and his lawyers had told him to admit to nothing for fear of prosecution.
So why am I still bothered by the situation?
Because once again, we've got a star athlete going about handling a scandal all wrong.
Instead of holding a press conference, say at the Cardinals' spring training facility shortly before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report, McGwire releases a carefully worded (and doubtlessly PR-manager-scripted) statement to the Associated Press. Then he conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with hand-picked interviewers.
I don't mean to disparage Bob Costas, St. Louis radio or the New York Times. But people aren't going to believe that McGwire has really run the gauntlet until he's taken on “all comers”.
I don't envy the idea of having to answer questions in a questionably-controlled environment like that. But I believe that if you're truly sorry, then you stand up and take your whipping (in this case of the verbal variety) like a man. And Bob Costas isn't the guy to deliver said whipping. Sorry Bob, you're just not.
But the manner of McGwire's admission isn't the only thing that bothers me. It's the justifications he insisted on offering that have me shaking my head as well.
First of all, he says, “I wish I'd never played in the steroids era”. So he's trying to push some of the blame off on the “era” he played in.
The problem with that is that McGwire was at the vanguard of that “era”. The Bash Brothers (McGwire & Canseco) were amongst the first to go from “big” to “cartoonishly big”. And McGwire was certainly the earliest example of the “bloated slugger setting records” version of PED-user that we've grown to know and loathe.
Sorry Mark, you can't blame an “era” you helped start. You weren't reacting to what was going on around you. You were helping to inspire what was going on around you. Barry Bonds saw the love that you and Sammy Sosa got after you ballooned up and chased history in '98, and decided that if it was okay for you guys, it was okay for him. Now not only is the single-season home run record tainted, so is the career record.
The other part that bothers me is McGwire's insistence that the steroids didn't help him hit home runs. When asked if he thought he'd still have hit all those home runs without using PED's, he responded, “I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for health purposes.” Health purposes here having the meaning of aiding his recovery from injuries.
But that doesn't wash either. If a player is able to recover faster from injury, it only follows that he's given more opportunities to hit home runs. Ergo, the steroids absolutely helped him hit home runs.
I understand that steroids can't improve hand-eye coordination, and that if you're not born with the ability to hit a baseball, no amount of injections are going to give it to you. But there's no way you're going to convince me that the quicker recovery time, along with the increased strength that we know, we know steroids bring doesn't aid a professional hitter in hitting more home runs.
Why can't these guys just come clean? Why can't they just say “I did it. I took them because they weren't against the rules and I wanted to improve my performance on the field. It was wrong, and I'm sorry”? Why is that so hard?
Instead of the “next day” story being, “McGwire apologizes”, now it's “McGwire says steroids didn't help him hit home runs”. And the story gets perpetuated. Instead of it being over, now it's going to continue.
If McGwire thinks that he's done what he has to in order to put this to rest, he's sorely mistaken. I fear this is going to follow him into Spring Training, and we're going to end up with a video of McGwire blowing up at a beat reporter before the team packs up to head north.
I hope I'm wrong. But I just don't get why these guys can't just come clean. I don't understand why there has to be justifications and mitigating factors. Stand up and make a real apology and take the heat , Mark. It's what's best for you and what's best for the game you claim to love.
Lane Kiffin is a carpet-bagger of the highest order...
… and I never thought I'd say this, but Al Davis was right to send him packing, and in the long-run, Tennessee is better off without him.
News broke last night that after Pete Carroll had skipped out of USC for the NFL just ahead of NCAA sanctions, the Trojans had turned around and hired Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin to be their new head coach.
Kiffin, son of well-known NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, rises to national prominence as the offensive coordinator at USC.
After interviewing for several college head coaching vacancies, he accepts a head coaching job with the Oakland Raiders which seemed odd since he had minimal NFL experience. After just 20 games with the Raiders, he was fired in a falling-out with owner Al Davis. When someone like Al calls a coach a “liar” and someone who “brought disgrace upon the Raiders”, that my friends, is an indictment!
After being fired, he accepts the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee and immediately sets about pissing off as many other SEC coaches as he can. Most notably, Florida head coach Urban Meyer. He suggests several times that there's a lack of integrity in Gainesville, yet it turns out that the “rules” that Meyer supposedly broke, didn't actually exist.
And now, 14 short months after promising Volunteer fans that he'd help restore their program to prominence, he bolts with the bulk of his coaching staff for Los Angeles. Oh, and did we mention that he's raiding cross-town rival UCLA's coaching staff while he's at it?
So what have we learned? Apparently Lane Kiffin is a liar, doesn't understand recruiting rules and has no business lecturing anyone else on the subject of “integrity”.
Every sport has its trouble. And we all know that coaching contracts aren't worth the paper that they're printed on. But this has become ridiculous.
How many times does John Calipari get to leave a school under investigation for breaking rules before he stops getting primo jobs? (I know he's a basketball coach, but the example fits.)
Nick Saban gets out of his LSU contract by going to the NFL, and when that isn't working for him, leaves the Dolphins in the lurch to go back to college in the same conference as the Tigers. How is that fair?
Is there any question that Pete Carroll will be welcomed back with open arms by a major university if/when his stint in the NFL fails, even though it's going to come out that he broke NCAA rules while at USC?
And how on earth can USC brag-up hiring a guy who's left a trail of slime like Lane Kiffin has?
Something is wrong folks. I love sports as much as anybody. And college football is one of my favorites. But this ridiculous coaching carousel is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. How any family can allow one of these jokers into their living room to recruit their 18-year-old and put any faith in them is beyond me.
I guess I should find some positive in all this. Now I have an NFL team I don't have to bother rooting for anymore (Sorry, Hammer... but I can't root for a Pete Carroll-led team after he basically skates from whatever sanctions he earned while at USC), and I have a new college team to put into the “Pantheon of Hate”. Any program that wants a clown like Kiffin at the head of it, is someone I can easily root against.
I don't know how to fix it ladies and gentlemen. But I can certainly point at it and say, “Indianapolis (home of the NCAA headquarters), we've got a problem!”
That's going to wrap it up for today. Wow, that was a lot of venom to spew. And frankly, I'm not sure I feel any better. If you've got thoughts, or opinions, or if you think I'm way off, please attach a comment and let me know!
I'll be back on Friday to wrap up the week (hopefully with no more disappointing news) with the usual DFTU tom-foolery.
Until then, thanks for reading!