Do it, Mark. Start talking. It's time.
Rumors of performance-enhancing drug use have swirled around Mark McGwire for years, especially since his playing career ended in 2001, and each time McGwire has steadfastly refused to discuss them. That is his right, but that doesn't mean he is right. His silence about all the steroid allegations over the years used to be understandable insomuch as he seemed unwilling to incriminate himself or others. But with his reputation plummeting as fast as his Hall of Fame vote count, it's clear that there isn't much left for McGwire to lose by finally opening up about whatever connection to steroids he might have.
This is not to say with certainty that McGwire did use illegal substances during his career. But the longer he avoids talking about it, either to admit to the rumors or to dispel them, the more he invites others to write his history for him. The latest -- and surely the saddest -- chapter in that book comes in the form of a tell-all supposedly being shopped around to publishing houses this week that was written by McGwire's estranged brother, Jay, who claims he introduced the slugger to steroids in the 1990s, even injecting his older brother with the drugs himself.
Many people have surmised that McGwire doesn't talk because the only thing he can say is to admit guilt. Even if that's the case, McGwire is better off doing it than not. Those players who have admitted to steroid use in the past -- Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts and Jason Giambi come to mind -- were virtually exonerated by the press and the public and given points, at least in some circles, for their honesty. It is only those who continue to deny wrongdoing in the face of mounting evidence that remain subjected to the scorn, contempt and questions of fans and the media. Pete Rose denied gambling on baseball for about 15 years, and only came clean when he had a book of his own to peddle. That refusal to admit the truth, almost as much as the crime itself, is what will continue to keep Rose out of Cooperstown. McGwire's brother says he doesn't care about making it to the Hall of Fame, but if he cares at all about being taken advantage of by family members for their own greedy purposes, or having his once-idolized career tarnished further and further with each passing day, then it's time for McGwire to give his version of the truth.
It's time, in other words, for Mark McGwire to talk about the past.