McGwire is Latest MLB Player to Admit Steroid Use
Mark McGwire’s name has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for four years, and in each election he has failed to receive more than 24 percent of the vote from sportswriters, a total which is more than 50 percent short of the necessary two-thirds majority required to earn a plaque in Cooperstown.
On Jan. 11, McGwire admitted he was one of many Major League Baseball (MLB) players of the past two decades to use performance-enhancing steroids. This now ensures that the only hall he’ll ever get elected to is the Steroid Users’ Hall of Shame.
After his 2005 Congressional testimony where he said “didn’t want to talk about the past,” McGwire finally confessed what everyone already suspected in a tearful sit-down interview with sports journalist Bob Costas on the MLB Network Monday night.
While he did sound remorseful, he gave a similar spiel to every baseball player before him who has admitted similar misgivings. McGwire claimed he used steroids to “help his body heal” and that while they were useful in that manner, he believes they had nothing to do with the 70 home runs he hit in 1998 (which means he is either completely naïve or a liar, one would think). He also refused to specify which drugs he took in particular, but rather said he couldn’t remember their names (despite the fact that he said he took them consistently for at least five years).
Should McGwire be commended for finally speaking out? Not particularly. It took him a decade after his playing days were over and four-plus years after lying in front of Congress about his steroid use for him to come out. Because as the new hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, he probably didn’t want to have to face questions from the media every day about these allegations. But MLB commissioner Bud Selig would beg to differ with my opinion, as he said in a released statement: “The so-called ‘steroid era’ — a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances — is clearly a thing of the past, and Mark’s admission today is another step in the right direction.”
How do I begin with picking apart that line? With the supposed fact that “many” players during the so-called steroid era didn’t actually use performance-enhancing substances whatsoever? Or how about with his strong statement that this whole matter is “clearly a thing of the past”?
While players may not be using steroids as rampantly as they did a decade ago, this problem is not confined to the 1990s or 2000s alone. Recall Los Angeles Dodgers star Manny Ramirez, who received a 50-game suspension in May 2009 for having the female fertility drug known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in his system, a drug that’s typically used by athletes to restart their bodies’ natural testosterone when they are coming off a steroid cycle.
In addition, the names of a litany of players every year continue to be linked to steroids, either through the release of a new report or by their own admission (i.e. the afore-mentioned Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and David Ortiz, just to name a few big players who were tied to performance-enhancers in 2009 alone). The only remaining big bat of the past 10 years who has been tied to steroids and not admitted it is Barry Bonds, and unless the pending perjury case against him moves forward, one cannot expect him to come out and say anything soon.
While American society in general can be characterized as forgiving (how else could A-Rod go from being jeered in April to cheered in October?), McGwire should not expect any extra sympathy Hall of Fame votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America when they vote again next January. Rather, he will go down in infamy as yet another player whose greatness will be marked with an asterisk.