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Is anyone surprised to hear Mark McGwire finally admit what most already knew? Big Mac came clean to speak of the past by confirming he was another baseball playing steroid junkie. So why now? Why should anyone care after years of denials? There are a few reasons some should care, especially Hall of Fame voters. So, I'm going to shake a stick at McGwire's confession.
First off, McGwire missed the mark. For me he comes across as a former drunk telling people he used to drink while wondering why he went to bars. No kidding. Somehow, this dillusional guy is trying to tell people steroid use didn't help his ability to hit homeruns two seconds after telling us all how he needed steroids to recover from various injuries. Really? What about the most obvious fact hardly anyone isn't telling you? Mac was only able to suit up because steroids sped up, or helped get over, injuries when most other players might have been forced into retirement or perform below expected capabilities. Of course steroid's helped hit home runs. Just from the simple fact he was able to play.
Next up, he claims not wanting to get bulked up like Governor Arnold or The Hulk. Give us all a break. Has anyone viewed pictures of Big Mac as a rookie? And, then as Bigger than Big Mac during the Roger Maris chase? What made me sick most of all after hitting number 62* was the press conference when he nearly came to tears hoping the record breaking bat would be placed next to Maris' bat in Cooperstown. Mac and Sosa, two overly inflated muscle heads, were media darlings while chasing Maris. Baseball honored them as men who saved the game from ruin after then recent set backs and strikes. It was a complete sham. I suspect, and previously blogged, the Commissioner of Baseball knew full well there was a dire steroid abuse problem rapidly spreading across MLB. Selig has denied it all the way even after former players came forward and even when BALCO first came to light. His bat should be forever banned from the Hall as a symbol to followers so history never repeats in this instance.
No one can ever know for sure how Mark McGwire's career would have turned out had steroid abuse never become an issue. He was a home run hitter before PED's came into play. His 49 as a rookie rewrote history books. He never did come close to 49 again until coming in contact with steroids. He was oft injured. Using was soon becoming the norm with players. Not only for those in need of body repairs but, also for those looking to further careers, better statiscal production, and yes, for the money!
One thing is clearly evident. No way would Mac have hit 583 career home runs. Denying steroid's helped hit homeruns isn't believable and nobody should fall for it. Check this: 1988-1991 he averaged 152 games/played and 31.5 home runs/season. 1993 he played only 27 games, 1994 only 47. This is the time frame when he was recovering and juicing. Well, well, well... guess what happened upon Mark's return to live action? 39 round trippers in only 109 games followed up by 52 & 58 in consecutive seasons (96/97). Is he trying to fool the public into thinking it wasn't about home runs. He had come within 3 home runs of tying baseball's once golden home run record. Is he really telling us he wasn't using more often, trying to get stronger, bigger, quicker swing in an attempt to break an ever elusive 61? It's a joke. Stats prove it too. 1996-99 averaged 149 games/season adn an unreal 61.25 home runs/season including 70 and 65 in 98 & 99. During the record breaking 1998 season a bottle of androstenedione was found in his locker (an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product that had already been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC). No it wasn't banned at the time but alarm bells should've been ringing. It wasn't only Mac. Plenty of others were suspect. Now we know, again. Baseball from top to bottom and bottom to top knew all along and were complicite as an entity of covering up. Nobody cared when paying customers filled ballparks and baseball owners pockets.
Back to my earlier question. Why is Mac trying to come clean now? Two reasons. The Cardinals recently re-signed Mac as their hitting instructor so it makes perfect sense from an organizational side to get it over with now before spring camp opens. Plus, manager LaRussa has openly wondered aloud of activating McGwire August 31 for late season and playoff eligibility. Might as well have the distraction out of the way now. Second, in my eye's it's really all about one thing and one thing only.... I offer no proof other than Mac's former actions are repeating once again. It's only about the Hall of Fame, period. Here's my analysis. 58 home runs came so very close to breaking baseball's home run record. Mac did anything he could to get past a record which had stood since 1961. A coveted number only a few had even remotely approached. So, Mac did what he had to... "cheat"... artificially pump up his body and his ability. In 1998, 70 home runs shattered the record. Soon to be broken again by another body swelling Barry Bonds. History repeats, and it's doing so now. Mac now wants into the Hall badly. His rep forever tarnished by Congressional testimony and questions. Legacy tarnished badly enough only 20% of votes. Just as he had done chasing after Maris & 61... he's now coming clean to do everything possible get in. Just wait and see. Here was a guy who tried avoiding interviews and the spotlight since retiring. Now, he's going to transparently suck up to sportswriters nationwide. Suddenly, Mac will be doing interview after interview as the Cards travel from city to city. Just to cozy up to the voting sportswriters hoping and praying for enough votes to a Hall of Fame nod.
McGwire and Pete Rose denied when 99% knew they were covering up past actions. Why? To make the Hall of Fame. If sportswriters ever vote this guy in they're rewarding and creating new outside the lines type of players. Steroids era players should have a very difficult time getting HOF votes and rightfully so. Guilty by association for some? Yes, sobeit. Steroids era represents many things. Perhaps most of all the game is guilty of not protecting itself from outside influences. Non-using players guilty of not protecting the game and deserve harder scrutiny as enablers of this tarnished period of baseball history.