Time for a lightning-quick take on the 'stunning announcement' that Mark McGwire juiced for nearly a decade while crushing bombs in the majors.
It's important to note that sports fanatics and critics are likely on one side of the fence on the steroids issue. You are either completely against using steroids and find the act a crime against baseball. Or, your take is that it's too difficult to determine what effect Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) may have had and, therefore, though it's unfortunate, the game is bigger than the sin.
The folks on the latter side of the fence are wrong.
I've blogged about steroids before, regarding a player very close to my heart. But McGwire's admission brought me back to the issue.
For those of you willing to take McGwire's apology, watch this interview with ESPN's investigative reporter T.J. Quinn. Did you listen to it?
McGwire claims taking steroids didn't lead to a single home run. You can't hit homers if you don't play in the game and take at-bats. McGwire said he took the drugs to get onto the field and...take at-bats. Therefore he is lying or in denial.
McGwire's career batting average was .263. Though that's respectable, the guys on the all-time homer leader list with him have generally better numbers. A-Rod (ANOTHER admitted user) is right behind Big Mac on the list, soon to pass him, but his career average is over .300. Frank Robinson (just ahead of McGwire) batted .294. Barry Bonds, MLB's tainted home run king, batted .298.
What does all that mean?
That McGwire was a pop-or-flop hitter. The ultimate fence-swinger.
He had over double the number of homers than he did doubles, 583 to 252, and he struck out more than he walked, 1596 to 1317. That final stat means less and less in today's playing era, but it still shows that he was by no means a patient or incredibly talented hitter.
He doesn't deserve the Hall of Fame...he never really did.
Did he help save baseball in the late 90s? That's arguable. He captured our attention and his feats impressed us. I was there watching every swing. But it didn't feel right then and it feels a lot worse now. To think that we idolized Big Mac and Sosa...two of the worst cheaters in the league's history...it's sad. I'm embarrassed.
And McGwire should be too. I find it unbelievable that a team, an owner and a group of players would find it acceptable to have him stand as their hitting coach.
He didn't do it on talent and work ethic alone. He cheated.
Aren't we taught that cheaters never prosper...that they don't win?
Some fans and reporters may choose to remember the following Mark McGwire:
But I choose to remember THIS Mark McGwire:
The one that lied to our nation's elected leaders and to all of us. The one that evaded the truth...until he wanted to get back into baseball and was FORCED to admit his wrongdoing. Commissioner Bud Selig said McGwire needed to do this to ease his transition back into the game. How sad.
The game, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Hall of Fame don't need him.
In my opinion, they never did.