Bob Costas-Mark McGwire Interview

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2010

Mark McGwire submitted to his first television interview last night after having released a statement earlier in the day admitting his use of steroids. Bob Costas interviewed McGwire on the MLB Network and asked some tough questions. This was no softball interview as Costas continued to press McGwire when he wouldn’t admit that steroids played a part in his increased home run production while on steroids

Instead McGwire kept bringing up his God given ability and hard work but stopped short of admitting the steroids were the reason he hit more and longer home runs.

Apologized to Pat Maris

He tells about calling Pat Maris the wife of Roger Maris. He said she was disappointed to learn he was on steroids when he broke her husband’s single season home run record. It is time that Maris has his record reinstated since McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds have either admitted they used steroids or have overwhelming substantial evidence in the case of Bonds.

Made Deal With Steroids Committee

McGwire said he was told by his attorney before the 2005 congressional committee investigation into steroids that he would be in legal jeopardy if he admitted using steroids. He worked out a deal with the committee that he would not talk about the past.

He emphasized how much it hurt him to not talk about the past after having heard the testimony of the parents of children who had lost them to steroids.

Apologized to Family, LaRussa

It was evident that he was truly sorry for using steroids particularly when he told of how difficult it was to tell his family and Tony LaRussa and that he had apologized to them in the last day or two.

Albert Pujols was among those he called and said Pujols was supportive and McGwire also predicted that Pujols will be the best baseball player in baseball history.

Denied Canseco Allegation

He denied being injected with steroids in a clubhouse stall as Canseco had written in his book saying it never happened. The MLB Network analysts agreed that it was not likely a player would inject another in the clubhouse.

During the interview he again as he had in his statement said he wished there had been drug testing. If my recollections are correct Bud Selig knew about steroids as early as 1993 but did nothing about it because he didn’t want to have a confrontation with the player’s union.

No Memorabilia From 1998

He related that he had given away all his 1998 memorabilia to teammates and others because he wanted them to have. It was evident that he wanted to let it be known that he had saved none of the memorabilia for himself.

Low Doses of Steroids

According to McGwire the steroid doses he took were very low and that he didn’t even know the names of the steroids he was taking. He said the steroids were only taken for health purposes and that he didn’t think they affected his home run numbers or length of homers.

Looking Forward to Being Cardinals Hitting Coach

He told of receiving a text message from LaRussa telling him he wanted McGwire for his hitting coach for the 2010 season. McGwire was enthusiastic telling about how much he likes to help hitters. He said his wife is from the St.Louis area so she was very supportive when he told her about the job offer.

McGwire went on to say that he hopes his being the hitting coach for the Cardinals will help help fans remember him more as a hitting coach than the man who testified before the steroids committee in 2005.

More Contrite Than Alex Rodriguez

It appeared to me that McGwire was more contrite and honestly was sorry for his actions. I didn’t get that vibe from Alex Rodriguez when he admitted using steroids in his spring training news conference last year.

McGwire broke down and was having difficulty keeping his composure several times during the interview. Costas wouldn’t let him off the hook even when McGwire was having problems keeping his emotions in check. Costas emphasized with McGwire during the emotional moments in the interview but still asked tough questions that McGwire was not comfortable with.

Costas gave McGwire several chances to say that his power production had increased because of steroids but McGwire didn’t take advantage of chance to admit they did make a difference.

MLB Network Analysts Feedback

After the interview MLB Network analysts Tom Verducci, Joe Magrane and Ken Rosenthal all agreed that McGwire had made a mistake by not admitting the steroids made a difference in his performance on the field.

Verducci made a great point by questioning why he would apologize to Pat Maris if the steroids made no difference in his performance.

Verducci and Rosenthal both thought that since McGwire would not make a complete admission of guilt that he hurt his Hall of Fame chances.

Peter Gammons commented in a phone call and said that he thinks McGwire is still in denial by not admitting the effects of steroids on his performance.

The MLB Network also showed a chart showing that McGwire had hit many more homers after using steroids:


Games – 990

At Bats – 3,342

HR – 238


Games – 884

At Bats – 3,654

HR – 342

McGwire hit 117 more homers from 1995-01 in only 312 more at bats than during 1986-94.

Summary: The interview was very emotional for McGwire and I think he made a heartfelt apology but at the same time he didn’t come clean by not admitting the effects of the steroids on his performance.

By not coming clean he may be subjected to more questioning and his best move would be to tell the rest of the truth before spring training starts. If he truly wants to put this behind him he has to be more forthcoming.

The way it stands now he is likely to get less Hall of Fame votes in 2011 because it was an incomplete apology. I have more respect for McGwire after watching the interview but would have had even more respect if he hadn’t failed to tell the whole truth.

I can’t imagine Barry Bonds ever making an apology like McGwire did yesterday but if he wants to have a remote chance of being in the Hall of Fame someday he too needs to make an apology. He won’t make one until his current legal proceedings are completed and he is exonerated from the perjury charges before the BALCo grand jury.

The question now is how many more baseball players will admit to using steroids knowing it could affect their chances to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame.