Despite falling a startling near 50% short of Baseball Hall of Fame induction, and having his brother come out last week and say he was the man who introduced him to steroids, Mark McGwire continues his silence in his post baseball career.
And in his silence stands a guilty verdict, that is casted by most baseball fans and the tone of the baseball media. Guilty of taking steroids, guilty of cheating his way into the record books and cheating his way in to fan’s hearts with his 1997 Home Run chase. His silence remains, despite the last time we saw Big Mac, he was near tears and be subjected to a brutal verbal lashing from members of congress. “I’m not here to talk about the past”, was the phase he used over and over again that mid-March day in 2005. Well Mark, I think it’s time to open the vault and talk about the past.
Who would have ever expected to see a man, with shoulders broad enough to serve dinner on, and the the sort of body size that made the bat look like a twig in his hands, would be reduced to tears in front of congress? The man who slugged his way past the unbreakable record of Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961. A man who was regarded as helping bring baseball back after a rough labor strike that erased an entire season would become one of the faces of the Mount Rushmore of disgrace for the game?
The whole era of baseball in the 90’s and early portion of this century was steroids induced. It’s time for the general public to take notice and begin to accept it. It’s hard to blame a man for taking a performance enhancing drug when you’re struggling to make a team, you have a wife and family back home, and the people you’re competing against for that job are taking steroids. But in McGwire’s case, the steroids allegations surrounded his entire career. It wasn’t a means for him to stay on a team- it was a means for him to smash records.
For McGwire, the time is now to start talking. Unlike Roger Clemens, McGwire doesn’t need to go back on things he said, he never confessed to steroids use. He can come out, apologize, and try to make the situation as human to people as he possibly could, and say he regrets it. He can dedicate the rest of his career towards being an advocate of the dangers of steroids use, if he chose to. Attempt to repair his image from a tragic hero, to man who’s tried to redeem himself for the mistakes he’s made. I understand a great amount of pride that will be lost when confessing to using performance inhancing drugs- especially for a player who never could run away from steroids accusations all his career. His whole career will get reduced to an asterisk. But for McGwire, it doesn’t get worse than the sort of pummeling he’s taking in the media and around baseball talk around the country. For McGwire, if being enshirined in baseball’s Hall of Fame has any value to him at all, he should take a page out of the bible and out of fellow baseball player, Andy Pettitte’s aplogy for using steroids; “The truth will set you free”.