Monday, January 11, 2010

"Big Mac" serves up some humble pie

The timing, to some, is a little convienent, considering that less than a week ago it was announced that Andre Dawson was the only one voted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America, but Mark McGwire, recently hired as a batting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, finally admitted to using steroids during the great home run chase in 1998.

The real question is, what took him so long? He refused to answer questions before Congress pertaining to steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PED's) a few years ago, which turned him from hero to pariah pratically within seconds, or in about the amount of time it takes for a baseball to leave his bat and land in the bleachers some 400+ feet away. By refusing to cooperate with Congress, McGwire virtually sabotaged his own chances of being enshrined in Cooperstown. There is a large number of sports writers who've already gone on record as saying they'd never vote McGwire or anyone else tainted by steroids (i.e. Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds) into the Hall, despite the fact that you already have someone like Gaylord Perry, who committed a more common kind of cheating (using a "spitball") during his playing days, and you have men like Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb, who weren't exactly choir boys themselves.

Before today, there was talk that McGwire, who finished his playing career with the Cardinals around 2003, might be placed on the active roster, making him a player-coach, available as a late inning pinch hitter. Such a move, it was said, would be made late in the season, assuming the Cards were contending for another NL Central title. The Cardinals might feel they could use "Big Mac" as an added gate attraction, even though the man who succeeded him at first base, Albert Pujols, is currently the Cardinals' #1 star. If the Cardinals were to activate McGwire, say around August 1, then he doesn't become eligible for the Hall again for at least 5 years, depending on when he moves back into retirement. It's all about image rehabilitation in this case.

I seem to recall reading a newspaper account that said that McGwire had a bottle of andro in his locker during the '98 season. At the time, it wasn't a banned substance, but it would later be added to the list of prohibited items. In 2010, if McGwire and the Cardinals are serious about having "Big Mac" come out of retirement as a late-season offensive weapon, and he really is willing to repent for his steroid use,  I'm sure Pujols could loan him the one thing that would be of greater use. A Bible.

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