Mark McGwire took the first step toward restoring his reputation on Monday, admitting to what most of us suspected all along. He was guilty of steriod use during his playing career.
Big Mac's image has been tainted ever since his ill-fated appearance before Congress in 2005. While Mark didn't actually lie that day, he certainly came across as someone with something to hide. Whether he was relying on bad legal advice or not, his evasiveness only served to essentially place a flashing "GUILTY" sign across his forehead. The man once credited with helping to save baseball in the '90's was now persona non grata in the baseball world, even within the forgiving confines of Cardinal Nation.
It seems like a long time since that magical summer of 1998 when McGwire and Sammy Sosa's pursuit of Roger Maris helped restore baseball's heritage and popularity. The efforts coming just a few short years after the 1994 work stoppage and cancellation of the World Series. McGwire was the All-American hero then, a knight in Cardinal red armor sent to rescue baseball from the evils of greed and labor strife.
McGwire will likely never return to that level of hero status in St. Louis or anywhere else, but he took the first steps toward public forgiveness by coming clean. Players such as Andy Pettite and Jason Giambi have come clean and gained some level of forgiveness from fans. Certainly McGwire immediately stands to gain respect that he could never have received in silence. I believe he is sincere about his desire to restore the faith of Cardinal fans and the entire baseball world in his new role as Cardinal hitting coach. I further believe he has a deep-seated love of the game and honestly regrets what he did to short-change his fans.
This was something he had to do eventually if he wanted to return to the baseball world and I am glad he did it now rather than become a distraction during Spring Training. The 2010 Cardinals have the potential to be something special and they didn't need the circus that would be McGwire's presence in Florida if he had yet to make a confession. McGwire is a good man who made horrible decisions. He deserves credit for coming clean, no matter how long it took. Here's hoping Mark just took the first step of many toward restoring some trust.