The big story capturing the sporting world right now pertains to a familiar topic. Steroids in baseball. Another player has officially come out and admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. It is a familiar face. One that everyone suspected and pretty much knew took the roids, but now he has officially admitted. Yes, I am talking about the Big Mac Attack, Mark McGwire. In an interview with Bob Costas, McGwire admits to steroid usage in the 90s. His omission was very heartfelt and people could clearly see how emotional the subject was for him. It felt good for Mark to finally admit to his past mishap.
The thing that baffles me about this entire scenario that has played out is not that McGwire admitted. We all knew he took steroids. People do not all the sudden go from hitting homeruns every 14 at bats to hitting them every 9 at bats midway through a career. No the thing that is baffling me is that McGwire is adamantly saying that the steroids did not help him hit the long ball. They just helped him stay healthy..
McGwire says that in 96, after being injured a good amount during the 4 prior seasons that he was on the brink of retirement. There were “pressures to perform.” Mark, I hate to say it, but enlighten me on the pressures to perform. You got to play baseball every day and were known as one of the elite players in the game. Most people would take your day job in a second and deal with some injury riddled years.
Also, please enlighten me on how steroids just helped you stay healthy. You realize that by staying healthy, your numbers will increase. So therefore they helped you increase your numbers. They also helped you increase how often you hit the longball. You all the sudden were hitting a long ball every 9 at bats rather than every 14. So yes, they helped your production and were not just there to improve your health. I realize that steroids do not improve your hand eye coordination. But realize that your body ballooned with ripped muscles. Mark was already strong, but all the sudden he got huge. Please do not tell me that this did not improve his ability to hit the long ball.
In 1994, baseball seemed to be falling apart and underwent a strike. Many thought that this would be the end of the MLB as we knew it. And in some ways it was. The 1998 season was one of the most exciting in baseball history. The New York Yankees produced possibly the greatest team of all time winning 114 games and easily nabbed the World Series title. But the real story of the year was the long ball. Mark McGwire and the man who loved to blow kisses, Sammy Sosa, were hitting homerun shots at an amazing pace and were capturing the American public. All the sudden there was great interest in the American pastime again. I mean don’t chicks dig the longball? Well McGwire ended up hitting 70, while Sammy ended up with 66.
Many thought that this 2 headed HR hitting monster had saved the game. Well now, 12 years later, as we look back, were they really helping the game? I mean yes, they got the American public back into baseball which was huge. But they also have become 2 of the defining characters in the steroid era, which has scarred the integrity of the game for forever. So they were hitting HR’s which was entertaining, but they also were cheating behind the scenes which is the worse thing they could have been doing for the game.
McGwire’s numbers are amazing and without the speculation of steriod use all these years, he would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. I mean 583 homeruns, 1414 RBIs, 12 all star games, a gold glove, 49 homeruns per season (a record), and a World Series title. Unfortunately for Mark, everyone knew that he took performance enhancing drugs and have been waiting for him to admit for years. He says that this omission is not to help his status with getting into Cooperstown. And this may be true. But either way, I am sure it feels good to get this off his chest finally.
Just know Mark, that you will always be a main face of the steroid era. This will never change. I will be happy for you if you do one day get enshrined into Cooperstown. This is very unlikely. Now that you have the burden of this off your chest, enjoy teaching hitting with the Cardinals and enjoy the game of baseball. Make sure the players that you will now be mentoring do not make the same mistakes that you made.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.