by Thomas Wayne
Okay. Can we all finally **** about Big Mac and what he did or didn't do? The cat is now out of the bag (a cat most of us suspected was in the bag to start with), so let's toss the bag in the trash and move the EXPLETIVE DELETED on.
Earlier this afternoon former Oakland Athletic, St.Louis Cardinal and 12-time All Star Mark McGwire, through a statement issued to the AP, admitted to having used steroids off and on over a ten year time span during his 16 year big league career. Here are some segment's of McGwire's statement:
- "I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era."
- "I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected."
- "I'm sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids," McGwire said. "I had good years when I didn't take any, and I had bad years when I didn't take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn't have done it and for that I'm truly sorry."
Last year on Dugout Central I wrote an article about McGwire's silence on the steroid issue. I surmised that Mac silence on steroids was mainly because he could not win with the media no matter what he had to say on the issue. If he had said "no" I never used, he would have been called a liar and a denier and hounded forever by the vultures we call the national media. If he had said "yes I used," he would have been crucified as the poster boy for an era gone bad and hounded forever by the vultures we call the national media. I went on to say that it was in this no-win situation that Big Mac found comfort in total, unmitigated silence.
Obviously, things have now changed. With McGwire coming back to the Cardinals as hitting instructor he knew those same vultures would be out in full force hovering over him on a daily basis, trying to pick away at anything that will land them a story. McGwire's admission comes a full month before the start of the 2010 Spring Training and the timing of the announcement is about one thing and one thing only - his team. Mac was not going to put the Cardinals and his mentor LaRussa through a season of hovering vultures hanging out in the locker room with only one thing on their minds.
Now, about that article I wrote last year...there are two things I made clear then and I will re-emphasize them now.
One, I was not a Mark McGwire steroid denier. At the time I penned that article I said he'd most likely used and if he did it was probably for help in his work-out recovery times more than anything else. I'm not one of these baseball men who believes that a magic potion makes the man. I believe steroids can increase strength and recovery times. Period. No more, no less. Anyone who thinks that just using steroids made the careers of any big name athlete has never played any sport at a high level and can be lopped into the self-righteous, player hater category (are you listening Jim Rome? Jay Mariotti?).
Two, I have been and will continue to be (this was a truth in the first article and continues to be a truth now) an un-ashamed Mark McGwire fan. I will not run and hide simply because of potential ridicule by those who think they are holier-than-thou. For those who want to call McGwire a cheat or worse, I propose this thought to you. What did Mark McGwire really do when he used steroids or whatever? He did nothing more than try to be the best baseball player he could to help his team win ball games. Was it the right way to do things, the right way to help his team? Hell no. But in the end he didn't club a baby seal or spill crude oil on a seagull. He didn't leave his child locked in a car for 4 hours on a hot July day or beat a homeless man for the two bits in his pocket. His real crime? He made a poor decision.
These guys who act like baseball was kidnapped and molested by the likes of McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, or whomever (and all of you know who you are. You never were an athlete, never will be and any chance you get to speak bad of or bring an athlete down you're the first in line, salivating like a Pavlovian mutt) need to sit back and put this past era of the game into perspective. These men didn't sit around, twirling the ends of their handle bar mustaches cackling at their evil plans to cheat the game and take over the world. They simply made poor choices, but in the end, those choices were made to help win baseball games. Right or wrong, they cared about the game. They cared about winning. They just went about it the wrong way.
I say stand tall Mark McGwire. Your future in this game is still bright. I hope by the end of the 2010 season you can add Hitting Coach for a World Championship team to your resume. Until then, be strong. The next few days will have thousands of idiots like myself spouting off any number of opinions on your admission, and most of them will be negative. But I say the mistake you made didn't destroy the game. Hell, in the large scope of things, it's barely a bruise on a game that's been around 140 glorious years. You could actually make a case that your mistake in 1998 helped save baseball after it legitimately tried to kill itself, but that's neither here nor there.
As far as I'm concerned, you're forgiven. Hopefully everyone else can just move on.