McGwire Comes Clean, Sort Of

As you’ve no doubt already heard, former slugger/Congressional testifier Mark McGwire admitted today to using steroids during the ’89-’90 offseason, the ’93 season and his record-setting ’98 season (but not in ’87 when he hit 49 home runs in 557 AB, in ’92 when he hit 42 in 467, or ’95 when he chalked up a 39 in 317).

In related news, the world is round, the U.S. operates at a deficit and, should you throw a tennis ball into the air, it will come down.

We all knew this day was coming. It was not a matter of if, but when. Mark David McGwire fessed up to the juice, not to be confused with the creatine, andro or other powdery substances spilling out of his locker every time he reached a hulking forearm for his toothbrush in the the late ’90s. Cansecos everywhere rejoice.

For now, the Bristol-consuming story has knocked the Cowboys, Pete Carroll and Gil Arenas out of the ubiquitous ticker “Lead.” But don’t be surprised if this revelation gets less run than Darko Milicic. The difference between McGwire and the A-Rod-Manny-Clemens camp – besides the fact that these forerunners have watered down Mac’s Big Reveal – is that 1) McGwire was already the poster boy for steroid use and 2) and more importantly, many a Ray Ratto had already cast doubt on his Hall worthiness even with the presumption of a clean slate.

Put simply, baseball purists aren’t real impressed with this guy’s numbers. McGwire totes a career .263 average. Of the 144 position players elected to the Hall, only Gary Carter (.262), Ray Schalk (.253), Harmon Killebrew (.256), Bill Mazeroski (.260), Luis Aparicio (.252), Ozzie Smith (.262), Joe Tinker (.262), Rabbit Maranville (.258) and Coyote Cooperstown (made that last one up, but there’s an actual “Rabbit Maranville” in the HOF) have a lower average. And lest we forget, McGwire sat out the final game of the ’91 season to avoid violating the territorial sanctity of the Mendoza Line. He finished that year at .201.

Mac had 12 career stolen bases, a career high of 27 doubles, and was baseball’s quintessential Anti-Ichiro, memorably finishing his ’01 campaign/career with 56 hits and 29 home runs, a statistical anomaly that belongs right up there with 511, 56 and 2,632. So, um, McGwire will never convince John Hollinger, but as Albert Pujols might say, “He’d make a damn fine hitting coach!”

Are you like me? Are you wondering if Tony La Russa enlists a card counter to tutor his kids in arithmetic?

Player reaction to the confession was mixed. Mike Schmidt took the “I’m happy for Mark” route. That’s an odd response. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you and I are both sports writers. And let’s say that we’re 10 years apart and of equal historical caliber, only I steal all off my best work from the Internet. Now lets say that I’ve been credited for saving sports writing, singlehandedly spawned the greatest commercial of all-time, and out-earned you by millions. If you knew that I’d been plagiarizing all along, would you bust out a, “Hey, good for Robbie!”? Didn’t think so. Thank you, John Kruk, the ultimate “What If” guy – as in “What if he’d managed to convert those buds and burgers into actual muscle mass and added 200 dongs – hehe, dongs is a funny word – to his resume?” – for acting appropriately furious. Krukky’s head almost exploded during his interview with Karl Ravech on the 6 o’clock SportsCenter.

The best part of this story? How about the final line of Mark’s official statement: “I wish I never played during the steroids era.” I ask you, friends, great apology? Or greatest apology ever? Could Larry Craig have gotten off with this defense?

 “I wish that airport never had a bathroom.”

As an act of penance, Big Mac should be forced to forfeit his ’98 home run crown, or at the very least change his nickname. Does McChicken work?


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