Mac remains King of Swing

The sports beat

Andrew Seymour

Every sports fan has seen replays of Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire slamming his 62nd home run, breaking the record for home runs in a single season.

While most fans have celebrated the tremendous record, some sports critics suggest McGwire’s accomplishment is tarnished because he uses androstenedione, a performance-enhancing supplement that raises testosterone. Critics say McGwire didn’t play fair by using the substance, which is illegal to buy in Canada and banned by the NFL, the International Olympic Committee, and American college sports.
McGwire did play fair though. Androstenedione, or andro, is not a banned substance in Major League Baseball. It is available over-the-counter in the United States. McGwire hasn’t broken a single rule by using the supplement. Even if he had, it’s debatable whether andro would help him hit any home runs at all.

Size and strength don’t hurt a home run hitter. Hitting a ball 350 feet or more requires strength. But timing and anticipation is essential. Being able to hit a baseball that is hurtling towards you at speeds over 90 mph requires a good eye and quick reflexes. If the swing doesn’t connect just right, a ball destined for the left-field bleachers becomes a harmless pop fly.

Andro might add a few extra feet to McGwire’s home-runs, but it’s not as if he’s just barely hitting them out to begin with.

One of the benefits of andro is it helps athletes recover from injury faster. Maybe McGwire would have been plagued by injuries if he didn’t use andro, as he was a few years ago. But it is impossible to say exactly what effect andro would have on recovery time, or whether McGwire would experience any major injury troubles at all.

But does it really matter, considering all he’s done for the game of baseball?

McGwire is a legitimate sports hero who single-handedly brought baseball back into the national and international spotlight. He is the Michael Jordan of his sport, healing old wounds from a players strike and giving fans something to cheer about.

This is a man who respects his teammates, opponents, history of the game, and most importantly, the fans. Who can forget the high-fives as he trotted around the bases, the hug for his closest rival, Sammy Sosa, and the embrace he gave the Maris family following his record-breaking swing?

Let McGwire have his record. With or without andro, he’s earned it.