Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Juiced: The player or the baseball?

I’m not a big “conspiracy theory” guy but I do wonder about the timing of this study.

A company that uses computer imaging claims baseballs had a larger rubberized core and a synthetic rubber ring in 1998, including the ball Mark McGwire hit for his 70th homer.

Universal Medical Systems Inc. said Wednesday that with the assistance of Dr. Avrami S. Grader and Dr. Philip M. Halleck from The Center for Quantitative Imaging at Penn State, it took images of 1998 baseballs.

"Examining the CT images of Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball one can clearly see the synthetic ring around the core -- or 'pill' -- of the baseball," UMS president David Zavagno said. "While Mark McGwire may or may not have used illegal steroids, the evidence shows his ball -- under the governing body of the league -- was juiced."

The study's findings happen to be released less than a week before the 2007 Hall of Fame inductions are announced. McGwire, in his first year of eligibility for enshrinement, has been under intense scrutiny since his appearance before Congress almost two years ago. When pressed by members of the House Government Reform Committee about whether or not he used steroids, McGwire continually replied “I'm not here to talk about the past." His former teammate with the Oakland Athletics, Jose Canseco, implicated McGwire as a user of steroids in his autobiography entitled Juiced.

McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, is seventh on the all-time home run list with 583.

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