Bash Brothers facing new reality

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Hitting back-to-back on Oct. 7, 1989, at the SkyDome, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire looked relaxed.

As if they were taking swings during early batting practice in front of six groundskeepers and a guard.

Never mind that 50,076 fans were booing, hoping they would swing and miss every pitch under the bright lights of a TV audience.

All Canseco did was launch a Mike Flanagan pitch into the 500 Level as the Oakland A's eliminated the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. Combined, the Bash Brothers -- Canseco and McGwire -- were 4-for-9 that game.

Flash ahead to yesterday when they resembled the bashed-in brothers, in front of the not-so-friendly glare of the TV cameras.

There they sat, testifying at a congressional hearing on steroid use in Washington, D.C. The two sat almost as far apart as possible at a table, which also featured Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, along with his lawyer and translator.

In his book Juiced, Canseco wrote how he and McGwire used steroids. Hence the Washington grandstanding: "I'd like to say how proud I am to have you living in my district," and asking big-leaguers why management did or didn't do that.

But the steroid problem was on the table. That's good.

Canseco was back-pedaling quicker than a York University cornerback. Despite writing how steroids were good and how he wouldn't be a major-leaguer without them, he switched.

Representative Stephen Lynch asked Canseco whether he still believes what he wrote. Canseco said his book took two years to write and he doesn't necessarily believe that. Said Lynch: "Guess I'll wait for the sequel."

Canseco testified he had not slept in days as he was upset, anguished over young men who took their lives due to steroids. Their parents testified.

Schilling threw a brushback pitch at Canseco, calling him a liar, saying: "In 19 years, I have never seen a syringe."

While McGwire did not take the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer on the grounds it would incriminate himself, like a Mafia kingpin, the former home run king had his own pat answer.

"I'm not here to talk about the past," McGwire said. Not once, not twice, not three times, but four times he said it.

In reading his opening statement, McGwire's voice quivered. Three times he paused for a drink.

"If a player answers 'no,' he simply will not be believed," McGwire said. "If he says 'yes,' he faces scorn."

The day began with Sen. Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame right-hander, sounding like a bitter ex-player, saying any home run records since 1993 (which covers McGwire and Barry Bonds) should be taken away. How many homers? Five, 10, all of them?

Canseco called on players to "cold stop" on steroids and labelled baseball's new drug policy as a "a complete joke." Representatives did the same.

"If Congress does nothing about this, MLB will not regulate itself," Canseco said.

McGwire volunteered to fight steroid use. His message? "Steroids are bad, don't do them."

When one representative asked McGwire how he knew steroids are bad, McGwire didn't answer citing the advice of his lawyers.

As Bash Brothers reunions go, it was not a good one, if you thought back to 1989.

It was good for baseball that the situation was addressed.


Videos

Photos