Those were not crocodile tears flowing yesterday when Mark McGwire blubbered his way through an interview with Bob Costas about his admission that he took steroids and HGH.
McGwire was truly sorry for the mistakes he made during his career. McGwire, along with Sammy Sosa, helped baseball distance itself from labor wars with an all-time binge of home run hitting in 1998.
But it’s now official. Mark McGwire was riding dirty along with other busted members of the PED gang. We had our suspicions, especially after he stiff-armed a congressional committee in 2005 with his “I’m not here to talk about the past,’’ defense.
Now, let’s talk about the past.
McGwire was a cheater during an era in which baseball’s drug policy was a joke and many players took advantage of it. The list of enablers is a long one, from officials on the MLB and club levels to teammates and even the media.
What’s fascinating is that McGwire believes the PED’s only helped him recover from injuries and stay on the field and had nothing to do with performance.
Sorry, Big Mac. You went from hitting 40-something homers to breaking the all-time single-season record. You’re going to have a hard time convincing us that it wasn’t the drugs.
McGwire likely has convinced himself of this – much like Roger Clemens has convinced himself that he’s done nothing wrong over the years. Yes, Big Mac, your swing had shortened over the years. Yes, you perfected the art of mental preparation. But when you missed first base and had to retreat to touch after historic homer No. 62, you were as massive as ever.
One of the biggest challenges facing Hall of Fame voters is how to judge players from the steroid era. Do we look at it on a case-by-case basis, don’t vote for anyone you suspected to be a PED user or vote for anyone you want because it’s safe to assume that most everyone was using before 2002.
The Hall of Fame is not an all-Saints club. There are lawbreakers and cheaters and racists in Cooperstown. Gaylord Perry was an admitted manipulator of baseballs throughout his career, and he’s in the Hall.
And how do we know players weren’t cheating in the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s? The way media saturates sports today makes it harder for unscrupulous athletes to operate.
Players cheated because they thought they could get away with it. To me, once you decide to join the dark side, you must pay for your mistakes if caught.
I have not voted for McGwire since he’s become eligible for Hall of Fame balloting. And I will continue to leave the box next to his name unchecked.