Unfortunately for Big Mac the time to sanitize his reputation may have passed. In his favor, however, is the fact that he's not under indictment (Bonds), he never had cork fall out of his bat (Sosa), he never failed a drug test after angry finger pointing at Congress (Palmeiro) and he's not Roger Clemens. A mea copa won't get him into the HoF anytime soon but it will move the voting in a positive direction and give him some peace of mind.
If McGwire wants induction bad enough, he'll come clean. It's inevitable.
It's also unfair. Steroid users were not so much corrupt as they were opportunistic and lacking in public-relation skills. If their agents had pushed them to come clean early on and talk of the enabling culture, the blame would have rightly been more widely spread. Users weren't doing anything that wasn't already well-known by MLB and fans alike.
But the national mood changed from blissful indifference to feigned outrage. All of sudden everyone pretended to care. John McCain made threats. Maybe it was because of the surly Mr. Bonds (a sharp contrast to the affable Mark and Sammy), or maybe it was just too much enhancement of performance. The game was looking stupid.
Now McGwire & Co. are the steroid scapegoats, expected to shoulder all of the blame for the bad that came from America's infatuation with money, muscle and home runs.
But when do Bud Selig and the baseball owners take responsibility for knowing about the steroid use, for years doing nothing to stop it and profiting from the freak show?
When does the player's union come clean about protecting the users? Player Rep Tom Glavine (future HoFer) had a lot to say during the strike year of '94 but nothing about enhanced drug-testing. Ten years later, White Sox players would threaten to strike in spring training unless testing became real. Enter the union: no strike, no real testing.
And then there's the media, the conscience of baseball. Apart from a few lone voices, most sportswriters / TV analysts played dumb and stayed quiet. Lonely are the brave.
Big Mac's brother made news recently claiming he introduced Mark to steroids. Who can know the motive behind his claim (money / family feud / empathy), but Big Mouth Mac may be on to something: the truth can set you free. Good advice for all suspected users who are HoF aspirants. But the clock is ticking (see Pete Rose).