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No Surprise About Gibson's Thoughts

by: Brian F. Logush

You cannot argue with Bob Gibson's storied, Hall-of-Fame career. Don't even try. 251 regular season wins. 2 Cy Young Awards. The 1968 NL MVP. A 1.12 ERA in that same season. 14 consecutive seasons with over eleven wins (He pitched 17 seasons total). He even swatted 24 home runs in his Cardinal tenure.

So why am I not shocked when Gibson says that people like Jack Clark and Carlton Fisk need to lay off Mark McGwire and let the man do his job?

I should be shocked. I should be jaw-on-the-floor, no-words, holy-crap-Bruce-Willis-was-dead-the-whole-time stunned. This is Bob Gibson we're talking about. One of the most tenacious pitchers of the entire 20th century. The man who was so dominant at his position that the league decided to lower the mound five inches after Gibson's epic 1968 campaign. The man who hasn't exactly forgiven baseball officiating for lowering his territory.

But why am I not?

Is it because Bob works for the team? Doubtful. If Tony LaRussa gets hacked off at a color-commentator for criticizing Yadier Molina's "running", what would he do to someone who actually contributes to the team? No, this is just Gibby being Gibby. He is brutually honest, and doesn't really care. He just says whatever pops into his head, popular opinion be damned.

I think it's because Gibson told ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" this past July that had steroids been around in his playing days, he may have taken them. The discussion begins around 7:30. And more recently, he told Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel that he would have been "tempted" to use steroids had they been offered to him. He cited the drive to compete, the urge to be better than your opponent as reasons to take steroids.

Does this change our perception of Gibson? Should we think less of him because he believes McGwire should be left alone? He also says he would accept admitted-users if they ever get into the Hall of Fame.

Now that is a ceremony I would like to watch. I accept that McGwire won't be getting in. And I doubt Jason Giambi and Andy Pettite will. But Alex Rodriguez is the intriguing candidate. If he gets voted in, how will the rest of the enshrined accept him? Gibson says he would. But would Reggie Jackson, who hopes no known juicers get into Cooperstown?

The Hall already has players who did not-so-great things. Mike Schmidt received the third-highest percentage of votes in voting history, and he admitted to playing with amphetamines during the 70s and 80s. Willie Mays was tied to the same drug. And Gaylord Perry may be the most famous cheater with a plaque, as he confessed to using a greased-up baseball throughout his whole career.

Everybody, including myself, has their own views on McGwire. That doesn't matter. What Bob Gibson thinks doesn't matter. But he has a point. The time for questioning and slamming McGwire needs to come to an end. Spring training is less than three weeks away. It's time to put all the negativity aside and focus on the task at hand.

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Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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