Denny McLain is not as concerned with the fact that, he believes, many of today™s biggest Major League Baseball stars have taken steriods. It™s the culture of denial that has clouded the issue that troubles him most.
œIt™s not so much that they™ve taken steroids, it™s how they all lied about it, he said. œThe only guy who did the right thing was Mark McGwire. He decided not to say anything (in front of Congress) and just sat back and waited for the firestorm to come. It™s coming.
McLain broached the issue ” and several others ” as part of a candid address and question-and-answer session Friday afternoon at the 12th Annual Baseball in Literature and Culture conference, which for the second straight year was held at MTSU.
The day after his 63rd birthday, he acknowledged his signature season of 1968, when he was the game™s last 30-game winner, would not have been accomplished without the help of pharmaceuticals, particularly cortisone injections. He said the day after almost every game he pitched that season he spent a few hours in a hospital and took a shot in his pitching shoulder.
œThree days later, I™d go pitch again, he said.
He finished that season with a 31-6 record, a 1.96 ERA and 280 strikeouts versus only 63 walks. He had 28 complete games.
He made it clear he believes players such as Ivan Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all eventually will be exposed beyond all doubt as steroid users. He noted changes in the physical appearance of both Rodriguez and Bonds in recent years, and pointed to Clemens™ sustained greatness as likely evidence that they used performance-enhancing substances.
œBonds? C™mon, he said. œ… Not to condemn anything (Clemens) did because he had one advantage over everyone else ” he had great stuff. But Lord knows how much better he could have been if he had been using the stuff.
The issue affected him personally, he said, when one of his grandsons, a high school hockey player, asked about steroids.
œI think the message it sends is, ˜No matter what you have to do to win, you do it,™ McLain said. œI don™t think that™s the right message we need to be sending to our children and out grandchildren.