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Curt Schilling Discusses McGwire on The Big Show

01.11.10 at 5:06 pm ET
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Retired pitcher Curt Schilling checked in with The Big Show to discuss Mark McGwire’s admission that he used steroids starting in 1989, including during the 1998 season in which he set the home run record. To listen to the complete interview, click here. A transcript is below.

What’€™s your take on McGwire and how he handled this?

I think he’€™s the first guy to come real clean ‘€“ legitimately clean. No more, ‘€˜Well, I did it once and I never did it again.’€™ I think everyone knew to some degree. But until you had your word, like everything else, it was speculation. I’€™m glad. I’€™m glad he did it.

Do you think this plays well with fans? He went into detail.

It seems like everybody else lies about it, then they lie about the lies. I always feel like any time you hear guys talk about stuff like this, there’€™s 10 times the stuff that you don’€™t know. He said he used it on and off throughout the ‘€˜90s. I’€™m probably pretty sure, based on playing against him, looking at him, the way he was the entire decade, he probably used the entire decade. Why wouldn’€™t you if you got the results he did from them?

Players probably chuckled when he said he wasn’€™t using steroids.

The ones that weren’€™t doing it with him, I’€™m sure.

Jose Canseco was another player who came completely clean.

Yeah, but he’€™s disgusting.

At the Congressional hearing, McGwire said that because lawyers told him to say that he should say what he did about not addressing the past. You said it’€™s a lot different under oath. Were you advised by attorneys?

The quotes that got me subpoenaed were locker-room chatter, grab-ass stuff that you do on a daily basis. In front of Congress, you’€™re under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you’€™re going to put a name out there, you’€™re going to end someone’€™s career and ruin someone’€™s life. Having not seen anyone inject themselves, anything I would have done, anyone I would have named would have been speculation. I certainly wasn’€™t going to get myself in trouble or get anyone else in trouble without a 100 percent guarantee of the fact that it’€™s true.

You’€™re guarded in the way you say things if you’€™re trying to hide or cover up. I didn’€™t know. I never knew. Everyone railed on me about clamming up. There was nothing for me to say. The comments that I’€™d been quoted on were the comments you made on a daily basis in the clubhouse when you were shooting the bull.

Half of it is crap. You speculate. You talk. Over the course of a nine-month season, a lot of people say a lot of things that are hyperbole and blown out of proportion. It was a common topic for a long period of time. I spent 10 years defending Roger Clemens ‘€“ the only guy in the clubhouse defending Roger Clemens.

Does this put pressure on other guys to come forward (aside from Clemens and Bonds, given their perjury cases)?

He told the story we’€™re expecting to hear from everyone else who got caught. That’€™s the story. That really is the only defense, unless you were a guy who went to a legitimate doctor and got a legitimate prescription for extreme cases where steroids are prescribed. If you don’€™t’€™ come out and do what he did, then everybody is going, ‘€˜Well, what else don’€™t we know?’€™

How do you think it plays out in the public and with Hall of Fame voters?

Knowing what I know about Mark McGwire, I don’€™t think he cares about either one. I think he wants to come back and coach and be on the baseball field, be in the clubhouse, be in the environment again. I don’€™t think he gives two wits about what guys say and write. I really don’€™t. He never was a guy who was motivated by that stuff.

I always looked at him kind of like I looked at Barry. You were one of the best ever, and you had to cheat to be better? I don’€™t get that.

Will this change the minds of voters? Will there be forgiveness in the public eye?

I love Mark and I think the world of Mark. I’€™ve known him for quite a long time. I don’€™t mean any disrespect, but I’€™m not sure he’€™s a Hall of Famer anyway. He hit a lot of homers for a lot of years and that’€™s all he did. I’€™m not belittling that, but the Hall of Fame is for the best of the best. He was never a guy, I don’€™t know. I think it will change, and he will end up getting a pass.

But there’€™s a line that, once it’€™s crossed, you can never go back. When that first player ‘€“ that Palmeiro or Bonds goes in ‘€“ then no one can ever use the steroid defense again, I don’€™t think.

Now that he’€™s admitted to use from the late-’€˜80s on, his greatness was based on his power. We now know he got the power from PEDs.

I think he was a naturally huge guy anyway. I think he always had a lot of power. But I’€™ve always argued, and football players can probably give me a better response than other people, I’€™ve never looked at steroids as the motivation for guys to use them to get huge biceps.

In baseball, I always looked at steroids, the motivation being to recover faster and to be fresher. Everyone that talks about them talks about the downtime being smaller and less, and you feel fresh for the entire season. I would argue that gives you an enormous advantage over me on Sept. 1, when I’€™m pitching against you and I’€™m dragging ass and it’€™s six months into the season, and you’€™re showing up like it’€™s the first day of spring training.

To me, it wasn’€™t the biceps and triceps. It was the bat speed. To me, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds were game-fresh, April-fresh on Sept. 1, that gave them a huge advantage in my mind.

We all talked about this ‘€“ all the freak injuries. It wasn’€™t a pulled hammy or a strained quad. It’€™s that everybody talks about the fact that steroids overstretch your body. You break joints. You tear ligaments in unusual or odd places. You look at all the guys over the last 10 years who we said, ‘€˜Hmmm, that’€™s kind of weird.’€™ You do freakish things to yourself from an injury standpoint. And people go, ‘€˜Wow ‘€“ that’€™s odd. That’€™s weird. How do you do something like that?’€™

How’€™d you get your body without steroids?

I always tell people this is not a real athletic body ‘€“ it’€™s a cruel family joke.

If McGwire’€™s motivation is to be back on the field, he was only going to be able to do this with a confession. We were trying to figure out how he’€™d do this. Now, he’€™s answered all the questions.

He did it perfectly. Other than admitting it five years ago, he did it perfectly. If I’€™m him, I sit there in spring training on that first day, and I say, ‘€˜You’€™ve got 60 minutes. I’€™ll answer every non-baseball question you want to ask me, and I won’€™t answer another one the entire season.’€™ He’€™s already answered everything you could want to ask him anyway. What else are you going to ask him? Who else do you know? He’€™s not going to answer that. He’€™s not going to throw other people under the bus.

It just reeks of honesty. He came clean, because I think he realized, I’€™m going to be in that environment, 24/7, for nine months of the year. I’€™m not going to give anyone an angle. I think he made the admission that we all wish everybody had made when they got caught, instead of the, ‘€˜Well, you know, I was trying to come back from injury and I only did it one time and it was my dad’€™s.’€™

If he gets positive treatment ‘€“ after being a pariah ‘€“ might more guys decide to confess?

The guys that don’€™t stand to get prison time, yes.

Giambi was accepted even though he never went into detail.

Another piece to this ‘€“ don’€™t discount this ‘€“ a lot of it has to deal with the people you’€™re dealing with. Everything I knew and have heard since about Barry, he was someone who was absolutely just a bad person.

To me, I always judge teammates on how they acted and interacted with non-uniform personnel, clubhouse kids, trainers and stuff. I’€™ve heard in the last couple years that Bonds was the worst ever at it and Clemens was not really cool about it. To me, that says more about you than anything else ‘€“ how you treat the quote-unquote little guy.

Jason Giambi is the world’€™s nicest guy. McGwire, really nice guy, those guys are going to get, I think, different treatment because they’€™re different people. They’€™re kind people.

I’€™ve heard things that [Bonds] has said and done. I knew Barry. I was friends with Barry. We had the same agent coming up, when I was coming up. I saw him say things and do things to people that I sat back and said, ‘€˜Wow.’€™

A lot of people cited race in how Bonds was treated by the media, yet Clemens got the same treatment.

[Bonds] treated people like crap, and half the time the race card was the card he played.

Clemens is in this until the end. What’€™s he thinking? If he’€™s clean, he’€™s a Hall of Famer.

I don’€™t think anybody on this planet thinks he’€™s clean. I don’€™t. And he was a guy who was instrumental in turning my career around. The lecture and speech I got from him was about hard work and dedication, passion, integrity, ethics, and all this other stuff. Then I come to find that it’€™s a lot of crap.

You can take steroids and still have a good work ethic.

Absolutely. That’€™s the thing about those guys. A-Rod and Bonds, those guys had unbelievable workout regimens that took it to another level. At the end of the day, it’€™s disappointing. It’€™s frustrating.

In a sense, I’€™m kind of like Pedro. I look back on what I did and the era I did it in, and I’€™m probably a little bit prouder of the fact that I did it the way I did it when all was said and done, and to think that I was competing against guys who were cheating, and probably a lot more than I knew.

At the end of the day, I got three rings. I don’€™t think steroids changed the amount of rings I got in my career, which is all I really care about.

Read More: barry bonds, congressional testimony, Curt Schilling, hall of fame
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