In 1919, two players were banned who, still today, are debated by many purist baseball fans—Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver. There are many historical accounts of these two legends' ban, but one thing is common: They knew about their dishonesty and they refused to be a snitch. In turn, they were branded accomplices by the newly-appointed commissioner of baseball—Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Jackson and Weaver cheated the cheaters, which in and of itself, was cheating. While many Chicago macro-baseball-economics majors may have recognized the true perpetrator of the problem, a tight-fisted-Charles Comiskey, one thing is not in question—he was a cheap business owner and owned what he wanted. Guess what?!? This was his right.
Sure, there was a different ethical/legal problem with baseball owners—colusion—but guess what? This was the modus operandi of the day.
Today, we have a new Pete Rose and his name is Mark McGwire. Why should he be forgiven? He waited until the fire burned out and then came out with his contrite message. What is the difference? He still lied and still deserves a lifetime ban from baseball.
McGwire was not Rafael Palmeiro: he did not confirm or deny his role in the steroid-era. What McGwire did was differ responsibility for undermining the most sacred record in baseball—the home run record.
Mark McGwire is part of the worst 20-plus years of baseball. Barry Bonds cannot escape from McGwire's shadow—even I think that his knee injury may have something to do with steroid use. Nevertheless, by avoiding responsibility and then "coming clean" McGwire is a selfish fool who deserves to have his name wiped from the records book—be it his home runs per at bats record or otherwise.