Let’s jump right in, okay?
Yesterday Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids while playing professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a St. Louisan, I grew up watching Cardinal baseball and loving every second of it (three cheers for Whitey Ball!!), but I kicked professional baseball to the curb when the industry chose the cash cow of the long ball over sportsmanship and integrity after a damaging strike. ‘Twas during that post strike era when a certain Mark McGwire emerged as the second coming of Roger Maris.
Even though I wasn’t watching baseball anymore, I followed McGwire’s race to break Maris’s home runs in a single season record. And I noted the excitement of the fans and McGwire’s home plate celebration when he did what we now know he was bio-engineered to do and broke the single season record.
Then came the steroid scandals…and the accusations leveled against multiple players…and some leaked grand jury testimony…and a bunch of public denials…and then that freakishly evasive non-denial denial testimony by McGwire to Congress and then…silence.
Nothing…until McGwire’s name emerged a few weeks ago when the Cardinals teased the notion of bringing him back as a hitting coach.
The response to that was tepid at best and most of the local pushback came from McGwire’s past non-denial denial of steroid use so…wait for it…bring on the tearful sorta full disclosure interview with St. Louis native Bobby Costas yesterday.
If he used steroids to enhance his hitting…he cheated.
If he used steroids to accelerate his recovery from the physical toll of baseball…he cheated.
And even if the steroids didn’t work and failed to enhance his hitting (which is absolute bullshit on ice) or didn’t little to nothing to assist in physical recovery…even if that shit is true, McGwire still tried to cheat and would have gleefully done so but for the failure of the ‘roids to do what ‘roids do (and I’ll repeat, I think talk of the lack of impact steroids had on McGwire’s performance is absolute bullshit steaming on Mississippi River ice!).
Now, y’all can forgive McGwire all you want to…hell, reward him with a coaching job and name another highway after his cheating ass if it gives your life meaning…but do that shit while keeping it real and only after Mr. I Took Steroids But They Didn’t Help Me One Bit ass keeps it real.
He cheated and in doing so insulted the legacy of the Roger Maris, whose record feel to a lie.
He has insulted and damaged the game of baseball…which used to be a sport but, with this latest public display of fan apathy toward a blatant lack of athletic integrity, is on the verge of becoming as legitimate as professional wrestling.
McGwire cheated…and you can dress it up and pour perfume on it all y’all want – that motherfucker is as guilty of cheating his way to 61 as homemade sin.
For the love of the game…he should have come clean a million times ago and certainly before now. But even though he’s come clean McGwire’s cheating at the game doesn’t break my heart the way folks not giving a shit about it does.
For the love of the game…he should have refused the single season record and lead by example in a sport populated by athletes who only seem capable of remorse when they get caught or can find personal profit from sorta-demonstrating the emotion.
For the love of the game…McGwire should have known that baseball is bigger than him or single season records or some sorry ass newly revealed hitting coach opportunity to rehabilitate his own image while further tarnishing the game.
Because if baseball isn't bigger than McGwire and worth more than his quest for validation (puh-lease, don't mistake that mess for redemption), what is now sport can so easily become sub-rate theatre played on a stage with three bases and a home plate.
But for the love of the game, a man would sell his soul for 61.