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McGwire did say he was taking Andro (as the result of a sportswriter noticing a bottle of the stuff in his locker during the '98 season). He was upfront about it, and there were few if any rules about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball in 1998.

Dr X

I recall that Mark McGwire admitted to using androstenediol, a prohormone. At the time, prohormones were legal, effective promoters of rapid muscle building, though not as effective as the potent cocktails that yield the appearance of a Sosa or a Bonds. I don't think that baseball had yet dealt with the question of prohormone use when McGwire made his admission.

Perhaps it was because prohormones were legal that reporters paid little attention. It's also possible that they didn't really understand what these recently invented supplements were.

Okay, here is an article written while testosterone prohormones were still legal. It appears to suggest that McGwire's use was known.


As Linkmeister and Dr X point out, Mark McGwire was indeed up front about his use of androstenedione. It was legal and no one seemed to have much to say about it, which is one of the reasons I have been puzzled by McGwire's behavior in the fallout from BALCO. Seems to me all he had to do was confirm what he had said repeatedly in the past. Unless he was also using something else. Good catch about Babe Ruth and his 60 in 8 fewer games. Puts McGwire's 70 in better perspective.


And, KLG, if he'd not hemmed and hawed during the Senate hearings and done what you suggest, I suspect he'd be getting more votes for the HOF.

Mike Schilling

McGwire was pleasant, at least during his home-run chase. Sosa was a great interview until he got caught and turned defensive. Bonds has never bothered to hide his disdain for the sports media.

Guess which one of those guys that did more or less the same thing it is that SI/ESPN/FoxSports tells us is the anti-Christ.


What Mike Schilling said. And there were plenty of us who didn't believe a single word that either the leaders or their media distributors were saying on the march to the imperialist invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor a single one that they are saying now, for that matter.


Darn, I had this whole long response written and Typepad ated it.

Suffice it to say, Lance, that McGwire entered the league hitting balls over the wall, in 1987.

Bonds did not.

Even allowing for both using them, Bonds started after he established his rep as a "for average" hitter. McGwire never had that startling contrast.

Ken Muldrew

"The question about McGwire, which can never be answered, is did he hit those 70 home runs directly because of the stuff he took or did he hit them because the stuff he took allowed him to play in enough games to hit them in."

Those are kind of the same thing. Muscle growth occurs through a process of injury and repair--remodelling. Steroids act on the repair side allowing one to train harder and more frequently. By making himself less fragile, McGwire was also making himself stronger. Training drugs are different from performance drugs.

Collective delusion in sport will continue for a long while yet. If you don't believe me, just ask around to see how many people believe that a human can run 100m in less than 9.95s without using training drugs. Most people will consider the hundreds of humans who have done so (and tested negative) and conclude that, yes, it is possible; common, in fact.


I don't know, Ken. I think I disagree with that.

After all, it took how long for a four minute mile to be run, despite decades of racing?

Sometimes, just better knowledge can be enough to push the envelope. Better equipment. Better training methods. Better nutrition.

I'm not suggesting it's impossible for everyone who runs a sub-9.95 to be juicing, but it's not impossible for one or two not to.

Here's an example supporting my contention: when Michael Phelps swam at the 2009 world championships, he shunned the polyurethane suits that other swimmers wore, which were banned effective 12/31/09 by FINA.

He lost the 200m freestyle to a German who was ranked ninth in the world in 2008, and who shaved four seconds off his time, something that took Phelps five years to do. 43 world records were set in Rome in 2009, and every race that had been swum in the 2007 meet lowered its meet record.

Every. Race. Even allowing that every single racer was juiced, including Phelps, we see that the technology of the PU suit was sufficient to alter the balance of power.

Mike Schilling

McGwire entered the league hitting balls over the wall, in 1987. Bonds did not.

Bonds's slugging average vs. McGwire's for their first ten full years:

.546(326 HRs)/.541(292 HRs)

The unjuiced Bonds was a comparable power hitter to the unjuiced McGwire, as well as a far superior defender (8 Gold Gloves to 1) and infinitely better baserunner (514 stolen bases to 12.)


Mike, seriously? Defense, baserunning and juicing have do with this discussion.

Bonds had 18 and 19 home runs in his first two seasons.

McGwire set the rookie record...with 46! If he wasn't juicing, which he likely was, he far, far and away had far more power than Bonds who had to advantage of hitting in what amounts to a bandbox of a park (3 Rivers). Hell, at 52 and with a torn bicep, I'd take a few cuts in Three Rivers and expect to hit at least one out!

Bonds was far more noticeable as a juicer when he started. McGwire was not, but that does not mean McGwire was not juicing.

Now, my longer post, which Typepad ate, acknowledged that both Bonds and McGwire had a skill, hitting a ball squarely with a round bat, that juicing could not possibly improve. Steroids add perhaps ten to twenty (some say fifty) feet to a hit ball, but you still have to hit it. Bonds was an incomparable hitter for average and for doubles, but he was not a power hitter in the sense that we acknowledge them today. He was a skilled hitter who could put a line drive in a gap once every game or so.

Mike Schilling

Bonds had 18 and 19 home runs in his first two seasons.

McGwire set the rookie record...with 46!

But, as I pointed out, after ten years their records as power hitters were almost indistinguishable.

Bonds was an incomparable hitter for average and for doubles, but he was not a power hitter in the sense that we acknowledge them today.

46 home runs in 1993, .667 slugging average, and that accomplished hitting in Candlestick Park. Don't be taken in by the myth of the "skinny, fast guy". Bonds had > 400 HRs before even any rumors have him on steroids.

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