Let me start out by saying I am not a huge Mark McGwire fan. Nor am I a McGwire Basher. I read his printed release. I watched his entire interview with Bob Costas. It was not all that I hoped for. I think McGwire should ask for a refund from the P-R firm that prepared him for the interview. Either that or he ignored the advice he was given. Yes Mark admitted using steroids. Yes Big Mac said he was sorry. There was true emotion. I believe his apology is heartfelt and he was sincere in everything he said.
Where he fell short was when Costas asked if his home run records were tainted. The answer, I believe in my God given talent and all those home runs were legit. Bad Answer. McGwire may actually believe he would have hit all those homers even if he had not taken the steroids. And you certainly don't want him to lie. That's what got him in trouble in the first place.
Anyone looking at the statistics for that era are going to question every record. Guys who were hitting 10 home runs a season suddenly hit 50. Baltimore lead off hitter Brady Anderson is a prime example. In his first 4 full seasons in the bigs he averaged 12 home runs. The next he hit 50. Need more evidence? The 15 top home run ratios of all-time came during the steroid area. Major League Baseball then instituted drug testing and there is a sudden drop in power. Take a look at life after steroids. Since Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001 the top home run total is 58 by Ryan Howard in 2006. A-Rod hit 54 in 2007 and Andruw Jones 51 in 2005. In the other 4 seasons the top home run hitter did not even reach 50. Coincidence?
So for McGwire to say the steroids did not help him is a little hard to swallow. Even if he believes that there were certainly better ways to say it. How about, "I'm not an expert on steroids so I don't know how much of an impact they had. But I do believe in my God given abilities and I know I hit all those balls hard." That certainly is not a lie and doesn't sound as defiant.
Now all that being said I have a little trouble with the backlash against McGwire that started right after the interview with Bob Costas ended. I heard one commentator say McGwire's performance was worse than his testimony before Congress. Are you kidding me? You could not possibly get worse than Mark's responses to lawmakers. I apologized last night, was sincere, and answered every question. And it was a better apology than any other admitted steroid user has given.
Another guy took a shot saying at least we know where McGwire got all his power from. What planet does this guy live on? McGwire set the major league record for homers by a rookie with 49 in 1987 long before steroids were an issue. The guy is 6'5", 250 pounds, with a great swing. He worked hard on batting and studied pitchers and hit home runs at every level of ball. Let's not diminish his natural abilities and say the only reason he hit homers was because he took steroids.
These are the same sports commentators who accepted A-Rod's steroid apology even though he gave 2 conflicting versions of the truth. Jason Giambi simply said I'm sorry, but never said what he was sorry for. The storm for both of these guys have blown over. Some of these commentators appeared to be waiting for their chance to pounce and no matter what McGwire said last night they were going to lash out.
I'm not defending McGwire's steroid use. It was wrong. Does McGwire deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Probably not. His accomplishments are tainted. Should all the records for a 4 or 5 year span have an asterisk next to them as the steroid era? Probably.
McGwire was not the only one who has remained silent. Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro and others have refused to talk about alleged steroid use. And those who have talked have already been forgiven for their steroid use and given a second chance. Mark McGwire deserves no less and I hope the fans of St. Louis will give it to him.