Yesterday’s news that Mark McGwire used steroids and human growth hormone on and off for 10 years shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone (especially not Tony Larussa and Bud Selig). It was painfully obvious that the man was a liar. Baseball players don’t hit 70 homeruns in a season through hard work and God-given ability, they just don’t.
When he told a congressional committee that he “wasn’t here to talk about the past”, McGwire really told America that he had used steroids to set the all-time single season homerun record, but didn’t want to be held accountable for his actions. The hulking beast of a man was nothing more than a coward and a cheat, and McGwire hoped that disappearing into the shadows would allow him to eventually restore his broken image. Well, after five years and four Hall-of-Fame ballots it was clear that silence had done nothing but further tarnish his reputation, so he decided on another course of action.
When Mark McGwire agreed to become the hitting coach for St. Louis he realized that he would eventually have to talk about the past, and he decided to do so on his own terms with a written release to the AP and a carefully staged interview with Bob Costas. McGwire was able to say what he wanted to say (while glossing over details like what kind of steroids he took) and used the media platform to tout his past exploits and pave a smooth return to the sport. McGwire talked at length about what he had done and why he turned to steroids, but what did he really say when he wasn’t choked up with tears? Let’s take a closer look at some of the major points of the interview and press release:
1.) “I was given a gift to hit home runs…the only reason I took steroids was for health purposes.”: Throughout the interview McGwire continued to reiterate the point that “the man upstairs” had granted him the ability to hit homeruns, and in a sense, that’s true. McGwire was always a good homerun hitter, including a record-setting 49 in his rookie season, but he makes a point of saying that he could have hit 70 homeruns without the help of PED’s. Does he even believe what he’s saying? No, steroids won’t help your eye hand coordination, but they sure as heck are going to make a baseball travel farther. How many of his warning track outs turned into homeruns because of steroids? Normal human beings don’t hit 70 homeruns in a season no matter how talented they are. McGwire knew full well that steroids did more than just keep him healthy, yet refused to acknowledge this important fact. I guess I can’t blame him, it was a pretty “loosey-goosey” era.
2.) “I’ve never been asked point-blank, ‘Have you ever taken steroids?'”: McGwire wants us to believe in the interview that no one in his life; not his wife, kids, parents or manager (LaRussa) had any knowledge of his steroid use. Really? Look, I’ll readily admit that the America public is generally gullible, but he expects us to believe that no one in his family ever asked him about steroids? His wife never once talked to him about steroids when he was asked to speak in front of a congressional committee? His son never brought up steroids when McGwire was labeled a cheat and liar by the media? He said plenty of farfetched things in his interview, but this might be the most unbelievable of all. News flash Mark, “coming clean” does not involve continuing to lie—your arrogance is dumbfounding.
3.) “All I tell you is, I’m sorry and it’s been one of the toughest days of my life and I totally regret everything I’ve done.”: Is McGwire sorry that he did steroids or is he just sorry he got caught? It’s not like he accidentally did steroids once and then magically cleaned up his act (looking at you Andy Pettite). Look, people make mistakes, but when they make the same one for 10 years straight they’re way past regret. Did he really have 10 years of “health issues” that forced him to take steroids? Was the increase in strength and batspeed just a nasty side-effect? The only reason McGwire is “sorry” is because the Cardinals told him to and his publicist decided it was the best way for Big Mac to repair his reputation. McGwire is not sorry for what he did, he’s sorry because he’ll never be able to get into the Hall-of-Fame because of it. True repentance involves no ulterior motive.
Mark McGwire finally came out on Monday after years of solitude and told America he was sorry for ever using steroids and that he wished he had never played in the steroid era. Well Mark, I for one don’t forgive you. You didn’t tell the truth five years ago when you had the chance and you aren’t telling the truth now. Baseball fans are not stupid or ignorant; don’t treat them like they are. Tell the truth, apologize and you be will forgiven. Keep on lying, and you will be forever branded a cheater and all of your accomplishments will be marked with an asterisk.
Baseball fans and the entire sport deserve a real apology for what you did Mark. Now go put your shirt on, and give us a call when you’re ready talk.