Do you remember Mark McGwire? He used to be one of America’s Baseball Darlings back in the days when sluggers looked more like football players and pro wrestlers than the football players and pro wrestlers did. He’s the guy who went from a lanky and wiry six foot five inches, 225-pounder to a bulked up 275-plus pounder at the end of his days as a player.
He’s a guy who in five years hit almost half of the total home runs (284) that he hit during his entire 16-year career (583). He’s a guy who did the big fizzle – due to injuries – at the age of 36, and was so ineffective at the end of his career that he had to be pinch hit for during the playoffs.
McGwire is the guy who made a fool of himself in front of the United States Congress back in the spring where – sounding like the weatherman character Brick Tamland from the Ron Bergundy movie – he repeated over and over “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
During the Congressional Hearings McGwire spoke passionately about how he was going to redirect the efforts of his foundation for neglected and abused children to help tackle the problem of kids and steroids. Click here to read an excellent piece by ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell in which we learn that McGwire’s foundation is not what he made it seem to be, and how McGwire’s foundation has not made any real efforts in this direction despite his public statements. Nice guy.
Now on the occasion of the closing of St. Louis’ Busch Stadium the incredible shrinking McGwire has told us that he will never speak about the steroid issue again. He also admonished the media, saying that the media “have been very negative towards me and that’s your job, but I’m a very positive person and I’ve moved on.”
McGwire’s take on how the media has handled his situation is pure nonsense and are the ramblings of a crybaby. If anything the case can be made that the media protected McGwire both during and after his playing career. When other players – most notably Jose Canseco – were being subjected to media scrutiny with regards to the steroid issue, McGwire despite bulking up to a ridiculous degree was largely spared by those who cover baseball.
The only time McGwire’s physique was questioned was after a reporter saw a bottle of androstendione in his locker at Busch Stadium. And even then the issue regarding “andro” revolved around the debate as to whether it was a steroid or not, and did not focus on McGwire and the likelihood that steroids AND “andro” are used in tandem.
Even on the eve of the Congressional Hearings most members of the media, almost as if to send McGwire signals and clues, were saying that all McGwire has to do was tell the truth and speak frankly. After his disastrous performance media disappointment was palpable and in the flood of the post-hearing analysis the message was the same; McGwire should have spoken frankly.
The real loser in all of this is McGwire as he has sealed his fate and cemented his legacy as one of the best sluggers of “The Tainted Era.” By saying that he won’t talk about steroid use in baseball – his use or use in general – McGwire has little to say that will be of interest to anyone.
McGwire probably figures that “dummying up” may be the best way for him to get into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. If he’s right he’ll have won a Pyrrhic victory.