JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Ban Mark McGwire

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.24.14 AMBud Selig means business. In case you don’t realize Bud Selig means business, he’s letting you know that, dammit, he means business.

That’s why Ryan Braun is gone for the season.

That’s why Alex Rodriguez is banned for 211 games.

Selig is mad and fed up, and he’s not gonna take it any longer. Cheaters can’t be tolerated; must not be tolerated; will never again be tolerated. Those who are caught cheating will be taught a very strong lesson: Crime doesn’t pay.

And yet …

Mark McGwire—arguably the most damaging cheater of them all—has never been punished; has never been suspended; has never faced any sort of ban or condemnation or, well, anything. The man who took one of baseball’s most cherished records (61) and lied to demolish it, remains a figure within the game. After spending three years as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, he now holds that position with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, Mark McGwire, is teaching young people how to rightly swing the bat.

This is laughable.

If Bud Selig is serious about shaming those who robbed the game of its decency, his first step should be to prevent McGwire from ever working for MLB in any capacity—ever. Think about it: What Braun did sucks. What ARod did sucks. What McGwire did, however, was morally criminal. In the process of breaking Babe Ruth’s record, Roger Maris was booed, jeered, threatened, taunted. He lost his hair and much of his weight; took up smoking to calm his shattered nerves. The record wasn’t a mere record. It was an iconic symbol; the number a tribute to a man’s strength and determination and, yes, decency.

McGwire didn’t just mess with that. He ran it over with a truck; slammed it over the skull with a steel bar; said, “To hell with history, to hell with sportsmanship—I will do whatever it takes to eliminate Roger Maris from the record book.” And he did.

Shameful.

To his credit (I suppose), McGwire is likeable and contrite. He has expressed regret and remorse and … and … I don’t care.

Some 3 1/2 decades ago, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were (wrongly) suspended from being involved with baseball by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for their relationships with casinos. It was stupid and shortsighted, but also spoke to the power a commissioner has. Selig, like Kuhn, can use his authority to tag players (and ex-players) as harmful to the sport’s well-being.

This is what he should do to McGwire. And Barry Bonds. And Jose Canseco. And Roger Clemens. Say, “Because you cheated, you are no longer welcome here. You deemed yourself ineligible; you are not worthy.”

Case closed.