Wednesday, January 03, 2007

From the "No Shit" Department

Mark McGwire as a skinny rookie; the (juiced?) ball McGwire hit for #62 in '98.

This story was released by the AP today:

A company that uses computer imaging claims baseballs had a larger rubberized core and a synthetic rubber ring in 1998, including the ball Mark McGwire hit for his 70th homer.

Universal Medical Systems Inc. said Wednesday that with the assistance of Drs. Avrami S. Grader and Dr. Philip M. Halleck from The Center for Quantitative Imaging at Penn State, it took images of 1998 baseballs.

"Examining the CT images of Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball one can clearly see the synthetic ring around the core -- or 'pill' -- of the baseball," UMS president David Zavagno said. "While Mark McGwire may or may not have used illegal steroids, the evidence shows his ball -- under the governing body of the league -- was juiced."

UMS specifically examined the ball McGwire hit for No. 70 -- a record surpassed when Barry Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001. Zavagno said the company tested about 35 baseballs in all.

"The synthetic rubber ring of the modern-day baseball, in this case that of Mark McGwire's prized 70th home run ball, acts as both a spring and a `stop,"' Zavagno said. "Much like a sling shot pulled back 10 or 20 degrees farther than normal, the subsequent restitution or rebound allows an object to fly faster and farther."

It's cool that there is some sort of evidence to prove what everyone has already known. After the MLB players' strike of 1994, which ran into spring training of '05, baseball was in some serious shit. Attendance was down, sure, but it was the disrespect of the game that sticks with me. Fans chanting, booing, throwing money at the players, fans running onto the field to disrupt the game time and time again. Baseball was in a sad state.

MLB needed to win back the fans, and compete with football and basketball for the fans money. Balls were juiced. Players were juiced. MLB turned a blind eye. And you all know what happened: Baseballs began flying out of the parks in record numbers. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa thrilled America with their chase of Roger Maris' single-season HR record of 61. They BOTH broke his mark. Steroid use was suspected, but no one really cared. Balls were flying out of the park! Dingers are fun to watch! Sammy had his little homerun hop. McGwire was hugging Maris' family! McGwire was hugging Sammy Sosa!

Then the Darth Vader of baseball (Barry Bonds) surpassed the unsurpassable McGwire record of 70 when he finished the 2001 season with 73 HRs. If there was any lingering doubt of steroid abuse, it was dispelled with this new record so soon after McGwire's. It was like when the second plane hit the WTC. Any thoughts that the first plane was a freak accident were forgotten. The truth was there, visible to the naked eye.

The results of this year's Hall of Fame balloting will be announced on Tuesday. My guess is McGwire pays the price. He won't make it, at least not this year.

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