In his televised interview with MLB Network, Mark McGwire whiffed at his chance to fully absolve himself from the steroid cloud he’s been under for the last decade.
McGwire deserves credit, albeit a limited amount, for finally coming clean after refusing to “talk about the past” back when he addressed Congress in 2005.
Without question, McGwire's confession had the most emotionally charged dynamic to it in comparison to others (Alex Rodriguez immediately comes to mind) and the fact he took full responsibility for what he did was refreshing. Also, it was nice to hear somebody use the word steroids for a change. (Rodriguez was more comfortable with telling us he knew he wasn't taking tic-tacs.)
However, despite waiting nearly five full years to admit his wrongdoings, McGwire leaves the public- and more importantly the Hall of Fame voters—with the same doubts they had back in 2005.
This was McGwire’s ultimate chance to earn forgiveness. His day started by admitting he had used steroids throughout his playing career, including the 1998 season where his historic home run chase brought baseball back from the brink of irrelevance.
He not only gave us an admission, but wasn’t shy with using the s-word, which is more than can be said about some of his steroid-use-admitting predecessors, however when asked whether or not he believed his steroid use was indeed performance enhancing, McGwire failed to produce the answer many were expecting.
He was steadfast in his belief that his use of steroids was solely for the healing benefits they have also been known to provide. McGwire failed to admit that the use of steroids had any impact on his “god given ability” to hit a baseball.
Being either utterly dishonest with himself or those watching, McGwire refused to give steroids any credit for his astounding home run totals and perhaps more impressive home run distances.
There is no doubt that McGwire displayed sincerity when discussing how remorseful he was for making the decision to use steroids. That being said, if McGwire will have us convinced he only used steroids to help his body heal, why the feeling of such profound regret?
If McGwire feels his steroid use didn’t impact his performance, what is he so sorry about? We admire his passion for the game and his will to stay healthy while playing it, however if he feels as though he wasn’t cheating, why the remorse?
Making McGwire look even worse was his constant referral to wishing he hadn’t played during the steroid era, while also claiming he had wished baseball had testing for performance enhancing drugs while he was playing.
So if understood correctly, McGwire is disappointed that baseball wasn’t testing to outlaw substances McGwire claims weren’t in anyway impacting his performance. Excuse me while I spin my head back around.
Bob Costas, who conducted the televised sit-down, was outstanding in asking McGwire about every conceivable aspect of the entire McGwire steroid saga, including the timing of his admission.
McGwire was hired by his former manager Tony LaRussa to serve as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach a few months ago. Knowing that a barrage of questions regarding steroids would be waiting for McGwire upon his arrival to spring training, it seems logical that he took this opportunity to preempt that media storm.
The McGwire story is sad on a number of levels. In Mark McGwire, you have a ballplayer who was so beloved, and so important in restoring baseball as a national pastime who has become one of the poster boys for a scandal that has arguably forever tainted the game he helped save.
Even a chance to earn redemption was missed with McGwire’s delusion that his talent and accomplishments were exclusive of each other, completely unaffected by the drugs he both injected and consumed orally throughout the last decade of his professional career.
It’s difficult to believe McGwire left hall of fame voters with enough to change their minds when debating whether or not his candidacy became any more valid following his admission.
McGwire may try to have you believing hall of fame voting wasn’t on his mind when he made this announcement and gave this interview, however if that were the case, we may have actually received an admission that went as far as one of his majestic home runs he’ll try to have you believe had nothing to do with performance enhancing drugs.
Although he claims he didn’t need the PED’s while playing, based on the answers he gave during his interview with Costas, taking a performance enhancing substance before taking questions may not have been a bad idea.
At the end of the day, while this could have and should have been the first day of the rest of Mark McGwire’s life, the former slugger very simply swung for the fences, and struck out.