Rosenthal ponders McGwire’s quiet return

In a recent piece for, 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.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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