Mark McGwire is heading back to baseball.
And I’m thrilled by this.
Certainly Mark McGwire will always be known for being a power hitter, anyone who smacks 49 round trippers their rookie season would be, but McGwire was an astute student of hitting. Read this SI article from 1992 (six years before his historic record chase) which describes McGwire’s rebounded success after a dismal ’91 season, and pay attention to the details of adjustments McGwire made to his hitting stance, the eye exercises and, yes, the weight gain. Years before his historic ’98 season McGwire was dedicating himself in the weight room, to what was already a Herculean frame, but credited his success to his stance and reaction time.
The blogging community is already up in arms about the kind of coaching McGwire will offer to the Cardinal players as being of a steroid nature.
For years McGwire has been hounded for his refusal to participate as congress carried on their steroid witch hunt. But I don’t blame him. Yes McGwire never denied using steroids. And yes, his silence virtually declared his guilt on some level. But when McGwire said he was not there “to discuss the past”, he acknowledged that he was in a damned if he does damned if he doesn’t situation. And it was absolutely true. There was nothing McGwire could do to prevent the fallout of bad press and rumors and guilty-before-proven attitudes, and that’s unfortunate.
Congress summoned together these athletes (McGwire, Canseco, Sosa, Palmeiro and Schilling) under the guise of addressing the presence of steroids in sports, specifically baseball, and the effect it was having on Americas youth. Then it became a series of “Did you take steroids? Did you see anyone take steroids? Did you take steroids? Did you see anyone take steroids? Could you serve as an ambassador to young players on the effects of steroids? Did you take steroids?...”
I think our congress and national pastime missed out on a huge figure who could have effectively served as an ambassador to young players on the harm of steroids because they were too busy trying to crucify the man. I do think the Cardinals, thanks to Tony La Russa, have found a jewel of hitting coach.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.