Cleaning MLB's dirty laundry
Shocking news, huh? Mark McGwire admitted he used steroids. Who would have thunk?
We can only hope that McGwire's bout of contrition spreads so other people in baseball will come clean with other "revelations.''
Pete Rose: "All right, all right. I admit it. I didn't bet on the Reds to win all the time. Sometimes I bet on the Reds to tie. There! Are you finally satisfied? Now can I manage again?"
Joe Jackson: "Yeah, I helped throw the 1919 World Series. People say I was illiterate and dumb, but c'mon, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to lose a game. (By the way, what's a rocket?) Anyway, I was in on the whole thing. Took the money and dumped the games, though I was smart enough to play well in the games we won to make my stats look good. But I never showed up in no cornfield and I never told any farmer to plow under his crop, so don't blame me when the bankers come foreclosing on his farm. A voice told him that if he built a ballfield, a dead man would come visit? Yeah, sure. What the voice should have told him was: Don't make 'The Postman.'"
"So now will you let me into the Hall of Fame? I mean, I know I wasn't supposed to be the brightest guy in the world, but shouldn't a lifetime ban end once you're dead?"
Babe Ruth: "No, I didn't call my shot. I was good, but not that good. I was just pointing out a smokin' blonde in the bleachers. But I sure as hell wasn't going to tell that to the press.''
Roger Clemens: "OK, OK. I admit it. And I wish I had been honest about this whole thing from the very beginning because it would have saved me a whole lot of grief and anguish. But once you get trapped in a lie, it takes on a life of its own and becomes really hard to get out of, you know? It's been truly awful living this lie and I want it to end.
"So, yes, I admit it. I did know it was a bat when I threw it at Mike Piazza.
"I just hope kids will learn from my mistake and always tell the truth from the start."
Nuke LaLoosh: "Annie had nothing to do with it. I wore women's underwear because I liked it. Even when I wasn't pitching. In fact, I'm wearing some now."
Don Denkinger: "In retrospect, it's possible that perhaps I might have missed the call. Maybe. It's hard to tell. It was a bang-bang play and I think instant-replay camera angles are deceiving, especially when you slow them down like they do. But yeah, I guess it's possible Jorge Orta was out. So will St. Louis fans please stop phoning me in the middle of the night? And early in the morning? And in the afternoon? And in the evening. ...'
Manny Ramirez:"Yeah, I took those fertility drugs, but not to stimulate greater testosterone production. I took them for my hot flashes.''
Random columnist: "Yes, I suspected McGwire took steroids while he was playing. How could I not? He was the size of a garbage truck. It wasn't anything new. People had been talking about steroids in the game for a decade -- remember how fans chanted 'Steroids! Steroids!' at Jose Canseco in the 1988 postseason? But I still glorified McGwire because I loved seeing him hit home runs, the same as everyone else did. I said he was saving the game. And now I'm demonizing him because he ruined the game.
"So does that mean I should also admit to being a hypocrite? Well, sorry, I'm not going to. And I'm not going to vote for him for the Hall of Fame, either.''
DONNIE, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT
• Brace yourself, Cactus Leaguers. Maricopa County is considering raising the taxes on rental cars even more to pay for a new facility the Chicago Cubs want in order to stay in Mesa rather than move to Florida. As it is, all the rental taxes and user-fees at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport already add up to nearly half as much as the actual car (be aware of that when reserving a car so you won't be unpleasantly surprised and curse the attendant). Why doesn't Arizona save everyone money by just meeting passengers as they get off the airplane, shuttling them in a chain gang to Mesa or Glendale or Goodyear or whichever suburb wants to get a big league team, and putting them to work on the new facilities for a day? You know, like an Amish barn-raising or Habitat for Humanity, except with leg irons.
• As a follow-up to last week's Off Base about the 10-man limit on Hall of Fame ballots, BBWAA president John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press points out that from 1936 (the first year of voting) until 1956, writers were required to vote for exactly 10 candidates, all of them from the 20th century. Which is very interesting. I suppose that when the Hall of Fame opened (1939), there was nearly four decades worth of players to consider so they had plenty of candidates, hence the desire to vote for a lot of guys. When they eventually worked their way through the backlog, the BBWAA dropped the 10-man requirement and instituted the 10-man maximum. Of course, baseball had far fewer teams and players to sift through during those early decades compared to our current 30 teams. Which means we are currently judging significantly more players and voting for fewer of them; next year, we'll consider guys from 24-30 teams who played anywhere from 1970-2005. And yet people say BBWAA voters are getting soft and lowering the Hall's standards! Please.
• I think matching the World Series champs against the Japan Series champs is a great idea. The problem is finding a time to hold it. Holding it after the World Series is impractical because the players from both leagues are worn out then and also have tee times scheduled. And imagine the outcry if a pitcher came up with a sore arm after throwing his 260th inning of the year. A better time would be near the end of spring training the next March. While there undoubtedly would be roster changes for both teams, this would still give a better approximation of the champion teams than after the end of an exhausting season when the top pitchers receive needed rest and the position players are too tired to give their best effort. Of course, you still would have to convince major leaguers who hate traveling to Cleveland that they need to get on a flight to Japan.
• I just thought it worth noting that last week's BCS National Championship Game ended after midnight ET. Not that I saw too many columnists whining that the game should have been played during the day so kids could watch it (when they're in school). That's a complaint reserved only for baseball.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter at jimcaple.