I read this very sad article about Mark McGwire last week and wanted to wrtie about it, but I have been absolutely swamped at work. The article is long, but the general gist is that Mark McGwire has faded completely out of the lives of everyone he ever knew before the steroid scandal. He doesn't see his old friends from home anymore. He doesn't talk to his former teammates, agents, or coaches anymore. He lives in a gated community and plays golf and is trying to live as quiet an existence as possible.
This is only relevant because he recently became eligible for the baseball Hall of Fame. There has been great debate lately on blogs, on the radio, on ESPN etc as to whether McGwire should be elected to The Hall, whether he will be elected to The Hall and what is going on in the minds of the voters.
Most people I know don't think about this or care about this. I am not sure I particularly care either, I just hate hypocrisy when I see it. For all the talk about cheating and degrading the great game of baseball the facts seem to support that the press and MLB management knew about the steroid problem long before the ridiculous congressional hearings. They knew about it before BALCO. They knew about it before Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth's home run total. They knew about it before McGwire was humiliated in front of the nation. The press and management knew and collectively did nothing.
The 1994 baseball strike crippled the business of baseball. It alienated the fans and tarnished the game for a LOT of people. The 1995 season saw significantly depressed attendance. merchandise sales were way down, television and radio ratings were off and ownership was in a panic. Things started to come back in 1996 and 1997. Then we reached the golden summer of 1998 when baseball recaptured America's sporting heart. Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa's home run title chase became the only story of that summer. McGwire's fist pumps and Sosa's heart and finger kisses were on Sportscenter every night, in every magazine, on every newspaper. As McGwire got closer to 61 home runs the brought out Roger Maris' family to celebrate in pomp and circumstance of a sport reborn.
Sure, McGwire weighed about 65 pounds more than he did when he was a rookie and looked to be bursting out of his uniform. It was true Sammy Sosa looked like he had been inflated with an air pump. Yeah, Barry Bonds looked like a human bobble head doll. Who cared? Sportwriters wrote about the glorious romance of baseball's resurgence and the ownership breathed a collective sigh of relief as fans flooded back to the stadiums and people turned on ball games in record numbers.
Any baseball writer who wrote about the glory of the summer of 1998 who deson't vote for McGwire's candidacy is a hypocrite. Any baseball owner who talks about how steroids soiled the game are also hypocrites. That Mark McGwire has been humiliated to such a degree that he can't even talk about baseball with his neighbors is an absolute shame. It is a crime against baseball and baseball fans.
In the grand scheme of things is this important? Not remotely, but the article made me sad for the big guy.
No 1 of Consequence