Growing up a kid in the Midwest, baseball was my passion. Every summer was filled with excitement as the boys of summer hacked away toward another World Series title.
The excitement when the ball left Mark McGwire's bat was equivalent to a young child waking up to see a ton of presents under the tree on Christmas Day.
I guess that's right, because for me, baseball was like Christmas.
When McGwire broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record, I remember where I was, where I was sitting, and how emphatic my reaction was, as I proceeded to run around the house with my older brother chanting, "Big Mac!"
But on Monday, I got a lump of coal in my proverbial Christmas stocking.
After much speculation and denial, McGwire finally admitted to using steroids.
He told the Associated Press Monday that he took them "occasionally and during the 1998 season."
Because of my love and passion for the game of baseball, it's a tough pill to swallow anytime someone admits to using performance enhancing drugs.
But it's especially hard when one of my own, a St. Louis Cardinal, admits to it.
Although I'm not surprised that this news finally came out, I'm definitely let down. I feel betrayed as a fan not just of the Cardinals, but of baseball in general. Not to mention one of my fondest childhood memories is now fully tarnished.
Baseball takes another punch to the gut from the steroid era, with more sure to come.
What was once America's pastime has now become the source of jokes for sports fans, often being called a cheater's sport. Some would say that most of the good players of the sport in recent years didn't even play fair.
Unfortunately, that's pretty true.
I wasn't as shocked by McGwire's admittance as I was with some other players', but that doesn't mean this hurts any less.
It's time for anyone who used performance-enhancing drugs to finally start respecting the game of baseball and admit to using them, or else America's pastime will never be able to move past the darkest era of its history.
Follow Cole on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ColeClaybourn