Tim McClelland has been calling major league games since before some steroid users were born, and he is a passionate defender of the rules of the game. Unless those rules involve steroids.
McClelland was the guest speaker at an Iowa Hawkeye baseball dinner last night, and naturally, the conversation turned to talk of steroids. He says that it was completely obvious to him that many, many players were on the juice, but when you really think about it ... who cares?
"They used it to make themselves better," McClelland said. "I can't fault a player for doing that. It was not against the rules of baseball, so I can't fault a player for trying to make himself better."
I'm tempted to make fun of McClelland for not knowing that steroids actually were against the rules as far back 1992, since, you know ... he's an umpire and everything. On the other hand, maybe what he's really saying is that they were against the rules of the league, not against the rules of the game, which is all he need concern himself with, right? (Players also weren't tested or punished for them, so it's sort of like playing the game without umpires.)
What's worse, is that I can't even make a joke about umps being blind, because even a blind ump calling a game with his head firmly lodged in his own ass could see that these guys were taking something.
"I had a catcher tell me, 'Us peons have to get off steroids; we can't afford them,'" McClelland said. "He said the guys that make the big money, because they put up the big numbers, can get the synthetic steroids, and they can stay on them, and that's not fair.
"What he was telling me is that there were a lot of guys on steroids."
So you take steroids to make more money ... but you can't get steroids without already having money. That's quite a dilemma.
"I'd like to see people kind of get over it," McClelland said. "It was part of that era. In 2004, baseball instituted the ban on steroids. The previous 15 years, you just have to realize there were a lot of people taking steroids."
That's actually completely reasonable. I take back every thing I said about his mother at that Boston game back in '96.