Mark McGwire as Cardinals hitting coach?
I'm still waiting for the punch line.
In order for this to work, McGwire has to discuss what he hasn't wanted to discuss forever, and you know what that is. Instead, he spit at a bunch of congressmen during a hearing on steroids during the spring of 2005 on Capitol Hill by telling them, "I'm not here to talk about the past."
Yeah, well. The guy has no choice now. He will be hounded by his "past" on every Cardinals road trip. I'm guessing that more than a few folks in St. Louis also will have questions about his "past."
So why did you start using steroids?
When did you stop -- or did you stop?
Why did you choose to deceive those congressmen on national television instead of having the guts to come clean?
Where have you been hiding -- and why have you been hiding -- during most of the last eight years since your retirement from baseball with the Cardinals?
How come you're returning to baseball now?
No doubt McGwire understands the art of swinging and succeeding. He played Dean Martin to Sammy Sosa's Jerry Lewis when they battled down the stretch of the 1998 season for the all-time record for home runs during a season. They both topped Roger Maris' magical 61, but Sosa finished with 66 to McGwire's 70.
Not only that, McGwire retired in 2001 with 583 home runs, courtesy of leading his league in homers four times. He also topped Babe Ruth's previous record by slamming pitches out of ballparks at the rate of one every 10.61 at bats.
McGwire can teach, too. He has received accolades from Matt Holliday after they've worked in the shadows during recent years. He also has been a quiet tutor to others, including youth with the Cardinals' minor-league teams.
Those things are secondary to the big thing. Actually, this is the only thing: Mark, tell us the depth of your cheating with performance-enhancing drugs to become baseball's all-time biggest slugging fraud before Barry Bonds?
It's not going to happen. A preview of stonewalling to come from McGwire and from those around him with the Cardinals occurred on Monday during a news conference in St. Louis . It was to announce that Tony La Russa will return as Cardinals manager and that McGwire will replace Hal McRae as hitting coach.
La Russa was there. McGwire wasn't.
It got worse, because La Russa said of McGwire's role, "You're going to see a hitting coach -- much like Hal, in that the guys who do a good job -- Mark's not gong to hang around the (batting) cage just watching BP. He's going to work from spring training in the early morning until the last guy leaves in the afternoon."
To translate La RussaSpeak: The Cardinals are going to keep McGwire away from public view as much as possible. Goodness knows, what might happen if somebody gets close enough to ask McGwire one of those questions.
What about those questions, Tony?
"Well, I've already addressed (McGwire's steroid rumors) since the first time it came out, and I have never changed my comment," said La Russa, McGwire's manager when he made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics in 1986. La Russa also was McGwire's manager during his five years with the Cardinals. Added La Russa, "I've seen him get stronger. In fact, when you see him, he's not a guy who has wilted down to nothing. I mean, he's as big and strong as ever. He works out every day.
"So I've already said what I believe. He's a product of hard work and of a lot of discipline with his diet and all of that stuff. I think the organization; we all feel the same way. Now at some point, he's going to have to talk, and I don't know what he's going to say."
I know what McGwire has to say. He has to say he was guilty of much of what has been alleged about his steroid use. Which brings us back to that question as to why he left seclusion: Cooperstown , perhaps?
In order to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame, you need 75 percent approval from those voting during a given year. McGwire received 23.5 percent during his first year of eligibility, 23.6 during his second and 21.9 percent last year.
Not good. So maybe this is McGwire's way of politicking his way back into the public's consciousness. Maybe he'll become the anti-Pete Rose by calling a huge news conference to display a bunch of tears and ask for everybody's forgiveness.
Maybe there is a wrecking ball in front of the Gateway Arch.
Terence Moore is a national columnist and commentator for FanHouse. He is a frequent panelist on "Rome Is Burning," an ESPN show hosted by Jim Rome, that is seen Monday through Friday at 4:30 PM ET. Moore spent more than three decades working for major newspapers, including 26 years as an award-winning sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He resides in Atlanta.