When I very first heard about Mark McGwire and him saying that he really did take steriods, I, along with many other people I'm sure, wasn't surprised very much. I'm disappointed that one of my greatest childhood heroes has done something like this and put a huge stain on his entire baseball career. But at the same time, I do feel bad for him because he's having to deal with the media bashing him and calling him a cheater, a fraud, a legend that never was, and all these other names. Like Bud Selig said yesterday, it's always good for someone to admit their problems. But regardless of what McGwire did, I'm still going to love the guy for making the game of baseball more entertaining with the his homerun record back in 1998. My thoughts about this might come out on in this article a little choppy and apologize if you think it is but I really don't care. Here's how I think about this whole Mark McGwire situation.
In 1998, I was eight years old and I didn't really care about much. The only thing I care about was Power Rangers, and baseball. I was on a little league team in my home town of Sherman, Texas and loved every minute, even though my athletic skills and coordination were still building while playing little league baseball. I couldn't hit a ball very far and if I would ever hit a homerun like all the big guys in the major leagues I saw on TV. I remember watching TV one night during that summer of 1998 and watching some baseball between the St. Louis Cardinals and some other team. I remember eating dinner and watching this big guy coming to the plate with the number 25 on the back of his jersey. he had a red goatee and big arms and a long bat. I stopped eating for a minute and watched the guy bat because I was just amazed by his size. The first pitch I saw coming towards him was a fast pitch right down the middle of the plate. the big batter took his first swing and before I know it, the camera switched to another angle of the ball flying in the air and over the left field wall of the old Busch Stadium. I couldn't help but be so amazed by how far that ball went! the television graphic came up saying the words: Mark McGwire HOMERUN. I don't remember which homerun it was that he hit during that season but I didn't care. That was the moment I knew that this guy was my hero. I saw my first homerun as a child! Mark McGwire was my hero. I remember how excited I got when he broke the homerun record with number 62. My mother was a fan of his too, so she recorded it on tape. I was so excited for him that I jumped on my bed and yelled! I knew the old "61 homeruns in a single season" stood as the record for wuite a few years and I loved seeing it being broken by my hero.
Over the years I started seeing the Cardinals' games less and less because I lived in northern Texas and not Missouri. But when I did, It was normally once a week or so. When I watched their games, I obviously watched them just to watched McGwire hit a homerun. But over the years and game by game, I started to see Mark's name on the lineup card less and less. I didn't know why. I knew that these were athletes and they needed time off every now and then to rest their bodies. It was still disappointing to see McGwire not in the lineup becuase that just took away the reason why I wanted to watch baseball during the summer. I just wanted the camera to zoom in on my favorite baseball player.
As the years went by and once the years of 2003 hit, I kept turning on my television set every afternoon and all I saw the announcers on ESPN talk about was one thing: STERIODS in baseball.
At first I didn't care. Until I heard Mark McGwire's name come up in the conversation come up. As a young kid, I didn't want to believe that the guy took steriods. But these announcers started to bring up pictures on the screen that showed the differences between his body shape of the days when he played with the Oakland Athletics and the more recent days when he played ball with the St. Louis Cardinals. the announcers were saying that there was a difference in his appearence and to be honest, I agreed. As much as I didn't want to think McGwire could've taken steroids, I knew in the back of my mind that there was a chance that he did because the difference's in his body over the years changed. I realized that the commentators on ESPN and other networks were right: Mark McGwire took steroids, even though he didn't admit it yet.
Yesterday, I heard about it. It was all over the news that Mark McGwire has officially told the world that he made the worst mistake a baseball player could make. I saw the interview with him and Bob Costas. While watching him admit it, I noticed the look in his eyes. That look of a child that knows that he/she did something wrong and apologized for. You know that look right? the tears start to come up in the eyes and the person knows what they did was wrong. Almost like a kid admitting he/she took a big test and cheated on it and got the high grade, or lying to their parents about something really important. It's the same way here: the little kid was Mark McGwire ad the parents and teachers were his friends, family, and fans of the game of baseball. Two thoughts were going through my head. The first one was that I knew that McGwire was guilty before he even admitted it but once he did, I was still in shock a little bit. I mean, this was my hero as a child. When I saw a baseball player hit a homerun for the first time, he was the guy who hit it. The guy that everyone wanted to be if they loved baseball. The guy that was a role model for kids because of all his accomplishments. I had his t-shirts, his jerseys, his action figures, and his baseball cards. All my friends from school asked me where I got the t-shirts and stuff because they wanted to go to that same store and get the same thing I had because they wanted to feel like they were McGwire too. He was like a super hero for a lot of kids because of his size and his ability to homeruns and make kids' eyes get bigger in amazement because they knew he was something special. Now it's the year 2010. Long after his days of baseball and my hero as a child admits cheating the game. The second thought that went into my head was that I still felt bad for him and he was still my favorite baseball player. He was the reason I watched baseball in the first place. Not the Texas Rangers (my hometown team) and their success in the late 1990's, not the New York Yankees and their Championship run, but because of McGwire and his abolity to hit a baseball so far.
Even though he might not go to the Hall of Fame, and even though he did admit to taking sterioids. We should all still be thanking him for bringing baseball back in 1998 along with his friend Sammy Sosa, another steroid user in the game of baseball. They should still be examples to our kids. I say that because they worked hard to get to the Major Leagues and they entertained us while they played and they should still be considered one of the greats of the baseball world. Mark McGwire is my hero for playing baseball, for entertaining me as a child, and for stepping up in front of the world and admit that he did the one thing that baseball players should never do. It takes a lot of guts to do something like. I saw his face and I knew that he was truly sorry for what he had done, and for that, I forgive him just like everybody else should do and move on from it. People make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Don't bash the guy for making a mistake. The guy didn't kill anyone or steal anything serious like that. Call him a cheater if you want but it still doesn't change the way I feel about the guy ever since the summer of 1998. He's my hero and a true winner in my eyes regardless of what he's done.