When we last left our (less) hulking protagonist slash devil beast human incarnate, Mark McGwire was given a standing ovation by people paying $40 to walk around a convention hall and pay more money for autographs of grown men and then getting shoved into a hallway for a five minute press grilling cut short when reporters started shoving each other for microphone position.
The circus has been kept under the big top for almost three months now; with the dawn of spring training on the immediate horizon, it’s time to raise the tents.
Mark McGwire…your unwanted exposure awaits. Here’s what we know for sure:
1) Mark has admitted to using steroids. According to him, usage was sporadic and intended to aide his recovery from painful injuries and their presence in his system did not enhance his on-field performance, just his ability to get on said field.
2) The media wanted to know how McGwire can reconcile the fact that his mere presence on the aforementioned field in and of itself isn’t considered to be performance enhancing, since if he never was able to at bat he never would have been able to hit the home run.
Seems like a fair follow-up to the extensive Bob Costas interview on MLB Network.The Cardinals, in their infinite wisdom decided to give national and local media exactly five minutes in a crowded hallway with Big Mac to get to the bottom of this.
You can watch the whole thing here —warning, it looks very much like a Law & Order spoof, but it’s not. It’s real. After that? Radio silence.
3) The media, not big on the whole "shut the hell up media, this story is done" vibe the Cardinals like to perpetuate will get their answers. And they’ll get them this spring.
4) Mark McGwire has retained the services of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to guide him through this re-entry into MLB. And he is no doubt hunkered down with the man once charged with making George W. Bush look smart, trying to formulate a plausible explanation to his earlier comments that steroids didn’t affect his performance.
The best bet? The truth.
And not the sniveling at the feet of the NY Post truth. Not the whitewashed, PR approved truth. The real truth: not one person walking the face of the earth knows how steroids affect baseball skills.
It seems obvious they help. But since Mark McGwire never lived a parallel life where he did exactly what he did in his steroid infused life, but totally clean, we will never, EVER know for sure if the juice helped.
So why not just say that?
Because no one likes to think rationally when it comes to steroids in baseball. Football players, hockey players, golfers—they get busted and it’s old news before it’s news. But sluggers 10 years removed from the game coming back to old teams to be a fairly low-rung coach? BIG news. Big.
Anyone, though, that’s doubting how this will unify the Cardinals is foolish. Already this offseason we’ve heard numerous players flat out pissed that Big Mac is getting grilled for coming out and being (pretty) truthful about his past with PED’s.
They’re calling him the best hitting instructor they’ve ever had and have made it known that if you’re someone that’s going to be sniffing around the locker room for dirt on McGwire, you’re going to get the cold shoulder from the rest of the team.
Since media types are lemmings and long desperately for the adoration of the men they watch change every day of their professional lives, this story will be big for a week when McGwire does report to Spring Training.
But once the NY and ESPN reporters move on to the next story, this chapter will be closed. St. Louis fans don’t like what Mark McGwire did. They feel like they’ve been cheated out of a great summer of memories 12 years after.
But more than anything, St. Louis fans are forgiving.
Come out and say you’re sorry and they take it for what it’s worth and move on.
On opening day, Welcome to the Jungle will once again be played at Busch Stadium. Number 25 will come out of the dugout, tip his cap, soak in the standing ovation and hopefully (HOPEFULLY) we can all move on from a story about mistakes in the past to a story about redemption in the now.