Well, I guess we have about as much proof as we’re ever going to get. Mark McGwire today, has issued a statement admitting to using steroids. So where does this leave us with McGwire, his legacy, and his future?
The first thing that I am reminded of, is that MLB had no rule in place in 1998 that made it against the rules for a player to use steroids. It is my understanding that there may have been legal ramifications of having or taking steroids, but no rule or procedure specifically related to steroid use at the time. However, the drug policy that MLB put into place didn’t take effect until 2006.
The next thing that came to mind was his “fun” day in front of Congress. March 17th, 2005 was undoubtedly not a good day for a few MLB players (Sosa, McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro, to name a few). McGwire was very clear about not “talking about the past” while there, and never once answered a question one way or the other regarding his possible use of steroids. So there is the bonus that he doesn’t appear to have perjured himself.
And while I have not seen tonight’s interview with Bob Costas as of yet, it appears (from the Tweets I am seeing anyway), that Costas really took it to McGwire. As he should be doing at this point. We’ve watched him be unwilling to discuss this topic for the better part of the last 10 years, and it appears that the weight of the issue has finally become too much to bear.
So what does all this do for his legacy, and for his ability to work as hitting coach for the Cardinals?
Honestly, I don’t see this affecting the view on McGwire one way or the other. For people who had already decided that he wasn’t a Hall of Famer because they thought he used steroids, this isn’t going to change their minds. For those who had been voting for him, in spite of the evidence that was out there that he may have used steroids, this seems unlikely to sway them either. Many believed that there was a good chance that he had taken steroids, and in spite of this were still willing to vote for him for the Hall of Fame.
I wrote last month about his candidacy, and thought he should get in. I wrote then, that with an absence of proof that he had taken steroids, that we had to judge him based on the breadth of his career. Well, he’s admitted to it, and essentially given us our proof. So where does it leave me?
I’m hard pressed to think that this honestly changes my thoughts about him. While I wanted absolute proof, I still knew in the back of my head that it was extremely unlikely that he was 100% innocent of taking any performance enhancing drugs. So that still colored my views of him, even if I wouldn’t necessarily change my mind about him.
The fact that he has now attempted to address these questions should allow him to take questions a couple of times near the beginning of Spring Training, and hopefully allow him to address the functions of his job as the hitting coach for the Cardinals. Hopefully anyway.
The sad fact remains this: Another player from this era, whom we had believed to have done performance-enhancing drugs, has now admitted to it. And more players from the same era are going to be lumped in with these admitted users, and guilty-by-association. And for the players who truly did play the game clean, they have another player that has done a disservice to himself and to his counterparts. And there’s really nothing that they can do about this. Which is just sad.