coach on Monday.
Be it for legal reasons, a deep contempt for American rituals of contrition, or because he actually didn't use steroids, Mark McGwire has yet to give the teary confession so many want to hear him give. Good for him! I never cared for his boring play and don't think he's even one of the three retired first basemen who most deserves to be admitted to the Hall of Fame, but find his refusal to talk about the past wholly admirable.
Hopefully it will keep up even as he works as a hitting coach for the Cardinals next year. A lot of sports moralists will go on about accountability and what he owes the fans and like, but it's all a lot of rot. If he doesn't want to talk, he shouldn't, and no one should hold it against him.
You'll note that the players who have more or less owned up to drug use and then gone on to redeem themselves or at least fix it so that their use is thought of with relative indifference -- Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield -- have something in common besides being Yankees. They're active players. That confession and redemption go together doesn't imply that one follows on the other; it implies that the public cares more about what a player does on the field than anything else. After all, players like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz have (fairly or not) been tainted by drug scandals and have pointedly refused to give shame-faced speeches, and they haven't become pariahs either. Even Barry Bonds retained the adoration of San Francisco fans up until his last game, and while fans elsewhere didn't like him, they never had anyway.
Players like McGwire, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro are considered uniquely tainted only because the really heavy drug accusations against them came out either after or just before they retired, so that they never had a chance to wipe away the memory of scandal with on-field heroics. Batting coach or no, McGwire is not a player anymore and so will not have the same chance that Rodriguez has had to induce amnesia via the clutch hit. This being so, the whole premise on which the "he should give an awkward press conference for his own good" narrative is built isn't just slightly obnoxious; it's likely false. Here's hoping McGwire keeps his talk to hitting planes and hip rotation.