Rosenthal ponders McGwire’s quiet return

Mark McGwire

In a recent piece for FoxSports.com, Ken Rosenthal points out that the baseball world seems to have accepted Mark McGwire.

McGwire did not move to change the conversation, yet the noise did subside. He was not a distraction to the team in spring training. He is not a distraction now.

All this amounts to a positive step in the evolution of how fans, media and people within the game view players who used performance-enhancing drugs.

Other past users should draw inspiration from Big Mac, recognizing that they can admit the truth, emerge with a clean conscience and move forward.

No matter what you think of McGwire, he deserves the chance to be hitting coach of the Cardinals, who host the Mets this weekend on MLB on FOX (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET).

It bothers me that he used PEDs. It bothers me that he refuses to admit they helped him as a hitter. It bothers me that he has failed to fulfill his pledge to become a national spokesman against steroids, a pledge that he made to Congress in 2005.

But exactly how long should any of us harbor resentment toward McGwire and other past users?

People change. Perceptions change, too. Forget the Hall for a moment. If McGwire can regain at least a measure of dignity, then why not Sammy Sosa? Why not Roger Clemens? Why not Barry Bonds?

While I agree with Rosenthal, I think he should acknowledge that our interest in McGwire has also weakened because more important things are happening in the sport. I mean, what’s really left to say about Big Mac? I know there are many out there that loathe the idea of a baseball cheat being allowed back in the game, but they’ve even exhausted themselves talking about it. MLB follows 30 teams and hundreds of players over the course of seven months. Simply put, nobody wants to read about a hitting coach for too long. Rosenthal is correct in that our resentment for McGwire may be waning, but it’s not because of McGwire’s recent sound decisions. It’s because the story is boring. We all made up our minds a long time ago about how we viewed McGwire — his steroid admission just hardened those opinions.

It’s also tough to despise a guy that didn’t directly harm anybody but himself. Sure, he sullied the game of baseball, but he had many accomplices. I tend to group all these steroid guys in a giant cluster of disappointment. I don’t have a unique hatred for each and every one of them anymore. McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens — they’ve all exiled themselves from the hearts of the baseball-adoring public. If one of them comes back, like McGwire has, the story will lose steam quickly.

McGwire doesn’t have our forgiveness. We may empathize with him, but hitting statistics never go away. Instead, he’s become a sports figure we’ll simply deal with because we’re tired of mentioning him.

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Bonds says he’s proud of McGwire

Barry Bonds says he’s proud of friend Mark McGwire for admitting to his PED use back in January of this year.

From ESPN.com:

“I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire. I’m proud of him,” the 45-year-old Bonds, back in the Bay Area for a reunion at AT&T Park of the Giants’ 2000 NL West champion team, said when asked what he thought of McGwire’s January admission. “We’ve had a great relationship throughout our entire lives and throughout our career. I’m proud of what he did. I’m happy for him.”

He appeared to be in great shape and said he is down to about 225 pounds from his playing weight of 238.

“I’ve just been working out a lot, that’s all. I work out all the time,” Bonds said. “It’s been in my genes my whole life. I just don’t work out as hard anymore. I don’t lift as heavy weights anymore to be bulky. I don’t know, I’ve got that Hollywood look.”

I’ve got that Hollywood look? Does anyone else need to vomit or am I the only one?

People love to talk about “Manny being Manny” when it comes to the antics of Manny Ramirez, but ManRam has nothing on Bonds. This is a man that will look the media dead in the face and tell them that he’s proud of Mark McGwire for admitting his PED use, as if he shouldn’t have done the same thing long ago. Barry is one of those people that has subscribed to his own lies for so long that he actually believes in them now. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.


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McGwire sticks to story: Steroid use was to heal

Mark McGwire showed up on the first day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training and offered yet another apology for his use of performance enhancing drugs during his playing days. He maintains that the steroids were used to help him heal, not hit home runs.

From USA Today:

Mark McGwire said Wednesday that performance-enhancing drugs helped him get on the field and get more at-bats, but he stopped short of saying that the illegal drugs helped his power.

When asked about not admitting that steroids helped his home-run power, McGwire, the new batting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, said that he took steroids to help his injuries.

“That got me more at-bats and a chance to play,” he told reporters during a 17-minute interview outside the Cardinals’ clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium, hours after he first worked with St. Louis hitters at their spring training home.

There are people in this world that start to believe in their own lies after awhile. I’m not sure if McGwire fits that mold, but it’s amazing to me that he can look at people with a straight face and say that the drug use was only so that he could stay healthy.

He could apologize 100 more times and what he says still wouldn’t carry any weight until he admits he juiced so that he could hit 500-foot home runs. If he just wanted to stay healthy, then he didn’t need to bulk up to the size of a freaking linebacker.

His apologies are very hollow and insulting to baseball fans, but at this point it’s just time to move on. He’s not going to change his story any time soon.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Dealer claims McGwire used to get bigger

Curtis Wenzlaff, a former trainer convicted of dealing steroids and who says he supplied Mark McGwire with performance-enhancing drugs in the late 80s, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that Big Mac’s goal was to get “bigger, faster, stronger” from taking roids.

Wenzlaff also delivered the quote of the week when speaking on the subject:

“Will it help you hit a baseball?” Wenzlaff said. “Let me put it to you this way. If Paris Hilton was to take that array, she could run over Dick Butkus.”

When asked for his reaction to McGwire’s claim that he only took steroids to stay healthy enough to play, Wenzlaff said: “I chuckled. If excelling and kicking ass on the field is the end result I guess that’s a healthy, good feeling. But for health, there are other things you can take for health that are anabolic, but it wouldn’t be that type of combination.”

When asked about McGwire’s goal for taking the array of steroids he recommended and provided to McGwire, Wenzlaff said, “As anybody — bigger, faster, stronger.”

Shocking.

See, this is my problem with McGwire. He came “clean,” yet he still lied while doing so. He must honestly think that the general public is incredibly stupid and naïve. I would have had more respect for him if he came out and said:

“I’m ashamed – I took steroids and I want to come clean.”

“Why did you take steroids, Mr. McGwire?”

“Because they gave me big muscles and I wanted to hit as many home runs before my career was finished.”

He’d still be a cheater, but at least people could have respected him more for telling the truth. Now he just looks like a cheater and an idiot for thinking that he could get away with telling everyone he used drugs for health reasons. I’m not suggesting that everyone should buy into what Wenzlaff is saying, but it’s a joke to think that McGwire didn’t use riods to bulk up and smash 550-foot moonshots out of Busch Stadium.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

McGwire briefly faces fans and press in St. Louis

At Mark McGwire’s first public appearance since admitting to steroids he received a standing ovation from fans but evaded hard-hitting questions from reporters.

From ESPN.com:

His scheduled news conference, however, was shifted to an overcrowded hallway at the last minute, and McGwire evaded questions about the criticism he’s received from ex-players. The former home run king emphasized repeatedly he was ready to move on.

Dressed in jeans, a sweater and running shoes, the 46-year-old McGwire walked on stage to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, the hard-rock song played before his at-bats with the Cardinals.

He was cheered by fans who secured seats as much as 3½ hours earlier.

This is already playing out poorly. While McGwire’s confession was admirable, his claims that steroids didn’t increase his hitting power are ridiculous. Reporters are going to continue hammering him with embarrassing questions until he states the obvious.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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