"The Truth Shall Set Me Free", so says Mark McGwire after releasing his statement to the press yesterday that he was indeed a steroid user for the better part of the decade. It was Mark along with Sammy Sosa that revived the sport of Major League Baseball from one of it's lowest places in the history of the sport.
McGwire, who never tested positive for any illegal substance during his playing time, stood up before a Select Committee of United States Congressmen and said he would not talk about the past. From that moment on McGwire has been vilified by the fans, the press and the broadcasters throughout the land.
What all of us learned yesterday for the first time was what went on behind the scenes of that committee meeting. According to Mark he had every intention of coming clean that day before Congress but his lawyers advised him in order to avoid prosecution he would need to get immunity. The lawyers met with the two key members of the committee who could not promise immunity so they all agreed that McGwire who refused to lie about his steroid use could say that he would not speak about the past.
Does that make a difference to anyone? It does to me. The committee knew what Mark was going to say and they agreed not to push the issue.
Perhaps the most amazing part of his revelation was that Mark did not feel that his performance was not accelerated by the use of steroids. His claim about taking low doses just to help heal his injuries and himself to "Feel Normal" comes across as either terribly naive or just plain stupid.
McGwire feels that if he were healthy and never took steroids he still would have managed to hit 70 home runs in one season and 583 overall. Really? What Mark clearly does not get is all baseball players play the game going through a series of injuries. Some are obviously more debilitating than others and most of the players of the "Steroid Era" did not use performance enhancing drugs to improve their game.
McGwire is going down the same road as Andy Petitte did for using steroids to help heal injuries faster. So what became of Andy? He's still considered a star and a favorite on a Yankee Team that has seen the use of PED's before.
What happens to Mark McGwire is anybodies guess. He may come out of this like Petitte or Jason Giambi or even like Alex Rodriguez whose play in the playoffs allowed people forget his disclosure 11 months ago.
I have always been a fan of Mark McGwire ever since his rookie year in Oakland where you could not notice his awesome power and his ability to hit gigantic home runs. Now he become the batting coach under his former manager and dear friend Tony LaRusso who has been a consistent supporter of Mark throughout his career.
St. Louis is a baseball friendly town. I don't expect their acceptance of Mark McGwire will be met with animosity or cruelty. If the Cardinals batters are tearing the cover off the wall and they succeed to get to the playoffs and further then Mark should feel secure in his home park.
However it won't be the same on the road. Philadelphia and New York immediately come to mind as places where Mark ought to leave his batting helmet on at all times.
Finally comes the question as to his election to the Hall of Fame. I'm not a big fan of the hall primarily due to the fact that I see the baseball writers lack of knowledge about the players and their criteria for acceptance to the hall being a joke. Knowing I can't change that, I don't feel Mark will ever get 75% of the ballots to get him in. I believe that all the players of this era who have admitted to taking steroids and those who don't admit it but is perceived to have like Barry Bonds, I expect none of them will see themselves enshrined in Cooperstown.
Like everyone else they will have to buy a ticket to get in.
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