Mark McGwire confessed to what we always knew to be true. He took steroids. He admitted it and he put it all out there. And it's certainly ironic that many of the same people that said he had to do this before taking the hitting instructor job with the St. Louis Cardinals are now spewing venomous and self-righteous diatribes in his direction. Want proof? Try this one. Talk about asking a guy to walk the plank and then spanking him while he jumps in the water.
You want the Fan's take? You want it in the first person? I don't care. I'll say it again. I don't care. It doesn't change my opinion of Mark McGwire. It doesn't change the magic he performed in 1998. It doesn't change how he single-handedly helped me through my first Labor Day weekend after the end of my first marriage. He brought me joy in a dark time. He was majestic and heroic when I needed someone to root for. I needed a bridge to my long-lost father who would have enjoyed the moment as much as I had. He brought tears to my eyes when I was sitting all alone. None of that changes.
So how was Barry Bonds different? McGwire thought the stuff would get him back on the field and perhaps keep him there. Bonds started using out of jealousy for McGwire and Sosa and the accolades they were receiving. That's how it's different. But even all of that doesn't matter to me.
No one will convince me that steroids (or whatever PED was used) can help you hit a baseball. If 50 to 80 percent of major league players were using, how come nobody else hit that many homers and hit them that far? The same really goes for Bonds. He still had to hit those baseballs and that's still the hardest thing in sports to do.
I have to laugh at the outrage. I have to laugh at the statement from even my personal hero, Peter Gammons, that he won't vote for McGwire now that he has admitted "cheating." How exactly does Mr. Gammons or Mr. Brown know that Andre Dawson didn't take some things and that Roberto Alomar never used the stuff? They don't. Nobody does. With all we have come to know, the whole era is suspect. So we might as well continue to do what we've always done and that's vote the best players of their era into the Hall of Fame.
Soon, Jeff Bagwell will come up for his vote. Was he clean? How do we know? Was Mike Piazza? Who knows. Let's put those two up under the microscope like McGwire and see what happens. Let's hound them and tell them they can never work in baseball again unless they admit what they might have done. I am not accusing them. I'm just saying the whole generation is suspect.
There are two things I appreciated about today. First, Bud Selig took the high road and said that Mark McGwire did the right thing and that it was appreciated. Good for Bud. That's the right spirit of the thing. As has been written in this space ad nauseum, the past wasn't tested. The past wasn't legislated against. It should be left in the past and granted that the game was asleep at the wheel on the subject. Test now and crack down on those who fail the tests. But please, for heaven's sake, let's stop cracking the players of the PED era over the head.
The other thing I appreciate is the support McGwire is getting from the Cardinals and the organization. What a healthy thing that is. This guy was a product of his era. He did things we wish he didn't do. But he has admitted it and we want him to work for us. Good for them. And good for baseball. Because deep down, I believe Mark McGwire is a good guy. I believe he wanted to be a baseball player and toward that end, made choices that he now regrets.
Forgiveness is the most powerful tool given to us in this universe. It is the most wonderful ability once learned. It is humble and it is enriching. My ex-wife and I have both discovered this tool and we have made the best of our lots since. If I can be forgiven and she could, why can't Mark McGwire, or that guy that just cut you off in traffic?
I support Mark McGwire and I appreciate his candor. I actually wish he hadn't apologized. There really was no need for it since it can't be undone. And really, it's probably not all that sincere when it comes right down to it. If he had a life like Groundhog Day and lived his life over a hundred times, in the era and situations he was in, he'd probably make the same choice another hundred times. They all would have.
So thanks, Bud Selig. And thanks, Tony LaRussa. And Tim Brown? Get over yourself.