|January 12, 2010|
|McGwire Comes 'Clean'|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Mark McGwire came clean today with an admission -- a confession, really -- to the Associated Press that he was using steroids when he smashed Roger Maris' record for most home runs in a Major League Baseball season in 1998.|
Now, Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame should consider locking him out.
McGwire's legend had already been tarnished since his teary refusal to discuss "the past" when he was called before Congress in 2005 in a probe of steroids in baseball.
He told the AP he "hid it from everybody," including his family and used performance-enhancing drugs on and off for a decade.
"I had good years when I didn't take any, and I had bad years when I didn't take any," he said. "I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn't have done it and for that I'm truly sorry."
The slugger, who retired in 2001, has avoided the spotlight until this offseason, as he agreed to join his former St. Louis Cardinals as a hitting instructor for the 2010 season.
His acknowledgement to the AP today brings the story full circle, in a way, as it was an AP reporter who noticed an over-the-counter supplement known to be a precursor to steroid use in McGwire's locker in 1998.
Despite his gaudy statistics, McGwire was ignored for Hall of Fame consideration for the past four years (he's been eligible since 2007), garnering less than a quarter of the 539 votes possible.
McGwire never lied to Congress or angrily denied rumors and accusations tossed his way, unlike another former shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, Roger Clemens.
But today's revelation that his home run record was tainted -- the mark was broken by Barry Bonds, who faces his own steroid accusations -- is a step toward McGwire's re-entry to the sport and an attempt at rebuilding his image.
McGwire was a well-liked teammate and gave time generously to charities during his career -- especially his own foundation keyed in on child abuse. He'll likely spend the rest of his days denouncing steroid use and will be a powerful spokesman against drug use. His case against performance-enhancing drugs would be bolstered by a lifetime ban (official or unofficial) from the Hall of Fame.
The Cardinals could also send him packing.
After all, if he is welcomed with open arms back into baseball, what kind of lesson is that to a kid thinking about "juicing" up his game. Sure, McGwire will be ostracized by some of the public, but he had a successful career, made a lot of money, and will likely retain legions of adoring fans despite the revelation.
Yankees Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids last year and faced few (if any) consequences. He'll get a World Series ring this spring and will collect the richest contract ever given to a professional baseball player over the next decade.
What's the lesson in that?
If baseball has any PR sense, it will think long and hard about McGwire and the message the sport is sending to its fans, especially the young ones who would do just about anything to stand in the batter's box and launch a ball over the fence.
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