Bigger than the return of Greg Maddux to the Cubs organization yesterday, was Mark McGwire's announcement about his steroid use. The ginger behemoth admitted to the world that he did in fact use performance enhancing drugs, including in 1998 when he broke the single season home run record. In other news, water is wet, the sky is blue, and Jenna Jameson has seen more dick than the Boston Celtics' locker room. While I'm sure that for Cardinal fans, this comes as a bigger shock than finding out Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father, the rest of the baseball world lets out a collective meh. But I'm not here to talk about the past.
Oh, bullshit, yes I am. This announcement by McGwire might have had a little more meaning if he'd manned up and mentioned it in front of Congress. Oh, I know, he was advised by his lawyers not to speak, even though he now claims he wanted to come clean. And I'm sure that same lawyer had a gun in McGwire's back the whole time he was testifying or whatever it was that he did at that sorry excuse for a hearing. And Cardinal fans, I'm not giving the Cubs' own Slammin' Sammy a pass on this one either, as he was just as embarrassing as your boy. At least McGwire didn't have a lawyer read a written statement, claiming poor English as an excuse. Now that McGwire has owned up to his misdeeds, I would hope that Sammy has the good sense to follow suit.
What annoys me about the McGwire statement is that I personally believe that the only reason he's repenting now is because he's been given the position of hitting coach for the Cardinals this season. I'm sure he's only coming clean is so he won't have to answer questions about this for the entirety of the season. At this point in the whole steroid debacle, maybe it's a little ridiculous of me, but I think having a hitting coach who's an admitted cheater might just affect the credibility of whatever performance he gets from the players this season. What kind of example is he going to be setting for the kids who come up from AAA ball? "Make sure you practice your fundamentals, kids!" Wink wink nudge nudge. "It's what worked for me!" The Cubs find themselves in a somewhat similar situation, as Rudy Jaramillo comes over from the Rangers, a hotbed of PEDs at the height of the steroids era. However, Jaramillo never set a homerun record or served as a co-saviour of the sport. McGwire did.
If baseball is truly to put the specter of PEDs behind it once and for all, it needs to divest itself of those who profited the most from that era. Rewarding McGwire and others like him by allowing them to return to the game after sullying the sport and then lying about it sends the wrong kind of message. If you're going to do that, then you might as well allow Pete Rose in the Hall and just stop this nonsense about testing and maintaining the "purity" of the sport. What I see is this: McGwire cheated. He lied about cheating. Now he's given a chance to return to the game and the fans are expected to believe that he will do an honest job with the Cardinals' young players. Because he says so. Because Tony LaRussa says so. Because Bud Selig says so? It's not the past we should be talking about. It's the present and future of the credibility of the sport.
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