Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Preseason Baseball 2010--St. Tony's Skewed Take On Mark McGwire

La Russa was McGwire's manager for nearly all of his 16-year career in both Oakland and St. Louis. He was also his fiercest defender, especially after The Associated Press reported McGwire used androstenedione during his record-breaking season in '98. Andro, as it was known, was made a controlled substance until 2004, when it also was banned by baseball.The manager said he didn't know until Monday that McGwire used steroids."

That's a blatant lie," Canseco said. "There are some things here that are so ridiculous, and so disrespectful for the public and the media to believe. I just can't believe it. I'm in total shock. These guys remind me of politicians that go up and just lie to the public and expect to get elected."
Baltimore Sun 1/13/2010

Mark McGwire playing thirdbase for the Modesto A's circa 1985. (Pumpkincycle Photo)

Mark McGwire finally admitting to steroid use should have created a tiny ripple—as almost everyone already knew this. But there were two huge reactions to McGwire’s steroid revelation caused by his and Manager La R ussa's comments not passing "the smell test."

1) McGwire was almost uniformly condemned (except by Tony La Russa) for still not being forthright when indicating he took steroids for injury only and it didn’t help his god given performance one bit.

2) The reaction to Tony La Russa’s “I believe Mark and didn’t know until yesterday” performance also seems disingenuous, but Tony is given the benefit of the doubt as he saves animals, is a great family man, and is a patron of the ballet. (Oh, never mind that drunk driving conviction…)

But why does Tony La Russa get a special pass? Why is it constantly reported what a great and honorable guy (though bit of a control freak) Tony is?, thus this has becomes the general public perception of him. I don't know much else about him except for his propensity to make dozens of pitching changes and extend games. But I recall reading years ago about his abandoning his first family. When I mention this to people who readily give St. Tony the benefit of the doubt about his claim of ignorance re McGwire steroids, most people don’t believe it—as it is almost never reported. I tried to find it for a friend and could’t find any reference to it on the ‘net. Ain’t on Wikipedia’s bio of Tony. So it can’t be true..

Had to do some research the old fashioned way—from a book. And there it is on pages 145-146 of the book “Lady in the Locker Room (1993),” by Susan Fornoff, who was the beat reporter of the A’s. An early A’s bio of Manager Tony La Russa said he just had two children; when an old time reporter asked him about his other two children Tony La Russa said ‘ that was another life that no longer existed.'(145) Around the time of the Bay Bridge World Series La Russa’s ex wife and children tried to get newspapers interested in writing about them, while writers were gushing over what a great family man La Russa is. (145-146) "I was covering his first press conference, when he was named manager, and I said to him, 'It says here (on the press release) that you have two children. But you have four children,'....And Tony said, 'That was a previous life.'" from Lady In the Locker Room, p. 145

Look, people wind up in unique personal situations and no one is a saint. But as newspapers have gone to town to portray Tony La Russa as St. Tony, which then give his fishy statements certain veracity, it isn’t far fetched to imagine that as he conveniently changed the facts of his personal/ family history for public consumption he'd readily change the details of his managing team steriods to protect his legacy. In fact it seems likely..

(Postscript) The Fornoff book reminds up how disingenuous Commissioner Bud & Tony are when they said they knew nothing about steroids. At the end of September 1988 Washington post reporter Tom Boswell appeared on CBS alleging that Canseco used steroids. At Fenway Park, in the October 1988 playoffs, Boston fans readily sang "steroids..steroids" to the A's. (p. 159) And Bud/ Tony didn't notice any of this?

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