Monday Mark McGwire, former St. Louis Cardinals slugger and the man who hit 70 home runs during the 1998 season to break Roger Maris’ 37-year-old record of 61 homers, admitted he used steroids while he played baseball by sending a statement to the Associated Press.
“It’s something I’m certainly not proud of,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “I’m certainly sorry for having done it.”
I’m sure a stunned silence fell across the country . . . either that or everyone just nodded because we all had a pretty good idea he juiced. Even I admit that, and I am huge Cardinal fan and supporter.
But does it really matter that he used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, both oral and injection versions? Not really.
McGwire said he used the steroids to simply help his body heal and recover from a stretch of time when he was plagued with injuries, and I believe that.
He was already a big guy. He had no reason to bulk up.
He truly thought he was just using them to stay healthy, not to crush the ball. He didn’t see it as an advantage over anyone.
Sure, some might argue that simply making himself healthy was an advantage, especially in the home-run race of 1998, but what athlete who loves competing wouldn’t take steps to get themselves healthy and ready for a game?
Are vitamins a performance-enhancing drug? Does taking ibuprofen to combat aches and pains equal taking a PED?
No, and that’s asinine to even consider.
Of course, those types of drugs are legal. Are steroids legal? No, but does every other professional sport have tons of athletes you use steroids? Of course. That’s the nature of the athletic world these days because the salaries are climbing ever higher and the pressure to win is so great that Atlas himself might even break a sweat carrying that load around.
No, that doesn’t make it right, but it is just the way it is. There’s no need to get all bent out of shape about it. Just accept it. It’s not like they are hurting others with second-hand steroids, so who cares? Everyone just needs to collectively agree that performance-enhancing substances are now a part of the game and move on.
And that’s why McGwire, who has lived off the radar since retiring in 2001, decided to come forward now. Sure, he could have said something during on March 17, 2005 when he spoke before a Congressional Committee investigating steroid use, but he wasn’t ready yet. The committee wasn’t granting him immunity, so he repeatedly explained that, thanks to advice from his lawyers, he wasn’t there to talk about the past.
Some might try to say, then, that he lied during his testimony now that he has come forward, but one stupid people would say that. During his testimony, he never said he didn’t use steroids, he simply avoided talking about the situation. Brilliance, I say.
Now McGwire may never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he should.
When McGwire was a rookie at the Oakland Athletics in 1987 he hit 49 long-balls. If you’re keeping score at home, that crushed the previous rookie record of 38, which was held by both Frank Robinson and Wally Berger.
Those 49 home runs also earned him the honor of being named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1987.
The following three years he hit more than 30 homers each season, which made him the first Major Leaguer to hit 30-plus home runs in each of his first four full seasons.
That’s impressive and more than enough reason for him to get into the Hall of Fame, steroid use or not.
Just because he used steroids doesn’t mean he didn’t have talent.
Do you know how hard it is to hit a tiny, round object with a diameter of less than 3 inches when it is flying at you at nearly 98 miles-per-hour?
It is tough, and it takes incredible skill to do it consistently. The bat speed alone must be incredible, and the eye-hand coordination must be impeccable.
“I was given a gift to hit home runs,” he told Bob Costas on MLB Network. “There’s not a pill or an injection that’s going to give me, going to give any player the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball.”
Exactly. He has skill, and that’s why he should be allowed in the Hall of Fame. Sure, he made a mistake by taking steroids, but he didn’t kill anyone. Why should he be crucified and stripped of his records? People should recognize the strength he has shown by coming clean, and then he should be forgiven.
No asterisks should be put next to his record, either. He did it. It wasn’t the juice. It was Mark McGwire that hits those home runs. He just did it in a different, more competitive, era of baseball, and that’s what everyone needs to understand. The game is changing. There’s no point in fighting it. Just accept it without condoning it.
St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa has shown support of McGwire through this, and I’m glad. The two are good friends, and now McGwire is the Cardinal hitting coach, which I still feel is a great move for the Cardinals organization.
I wish McGwire luck in the future, thank him for all the memories I have of watching him in the 1998 season and assure him he did the right thing by coming clean before beginning to coach the Cardinal hitters.
But do I care that you used steroids, Mark? Not a chance. It’s just not that big of a deal.