|January 14, 2010|
|McGwire Confession May Require Shuffling Asterisks|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire did one thing right in confessing that he used steroids while breaking the single-season Major League Baseball home run record: he apologized to Patricia Maris, widow of Roger Maris. |
McGwire, who claims 'roids were used only for health reasons, then shot himself in the foot, telling the media that he would have broken Maris' record without steroids. We will never know, Mark. And frankly, we don't care.
McGwire's mea culpa may lead MLB to do some mighty soul-searching and shuffle some asterisks. Big Mac's 70 home runs in 1998 surpassed the 61 that Maris hit in 1961 while playing for the New York Yankees.
McGwire's performance forever shut-up the bozos who insisted that Maris' record deserved an asterisk because it happened in the first-year that MLB expanded to a 162-game season. That bunk was cooked up by traditionalists protecting the then- record of the legendary Babe Ruth, who clubbed 60 homers in a 154-game season.
Left unsaid: Maris had fewer at-bats than the Babe in their respective record years. Maris also failed to measure up on the PR front compared to Mickey Mantle, who as the toast of New York sports, had the media in his back pocket. The "M&M Boys" went neck-in-neck in the '61 season with "The Mick" falling short at 54 dingers. Mantle, who succeeded Joe DiMaggio, "The Yankee Clipper" in center field was considered a truer Yankee than Maris, who failed to get the recognition that he richly deserved.
Maris, who retired from baseball as a Cardinal, wasn't on hand when steroid-juiced McGwire socked his 62nd homer. Maris' son, Rich, hugged McGwire for his "accomplishment."
Roger may return as baseball's all-time home run king as the asterisk action shifts to McGwire's 70 home run season. More asterisks may be on the way.
Slammin' Sammy Sosa, who reportedly tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, surpassed Maris in 1999 with 63 homers and hit 64 in 2001. If Sammy has any desire to make baseball's Hall of Fame, he should give Ari Fleischer a jingle to arrange the next steroid confession.
And all-time home run king Barry Bonds may become the ultimate asterisk. The Balco-linked Bonds beat McGwire's "record" with 73 home runs in 2001 and has 762 career homers, topping Henry Aaron, who faced death threats when he approached Ruth's all-time homer record.
It's too bad Maris isn't around to see MLB remove the figurative asterisk from his record and slap real ones on the records of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds.
Maris, however, never really got the breaks. He died in 1985 at the age of 51. The Yankees retired his No. 9 a year earlier, 23 seasons after setting baseball's home run record.
Mantle retired in 1969. His No. 7 was retired by the Yanks in 1974.
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