McGwire, La Russa Not Fooling Anybody
The guy still won't make the Hall of Fame.
Not only that, this is disgusting. I'm talking about everything, ranging from McGwire remaining a coward by announcing through a printed statement to the Associated Press that he spent parts of a decade slamming all of those home runs with a boost from steroids (surprise, surprise) to St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa continuing to insult our intelligence in so many ways.
Let's get La Russa's silliness out of the way. To hear him tell it, he hadn't a clue that McGwire was swinging and juicing throughout his career. He said he only discovered as much when McGwire phoned him on Monday with the news -- you know, presumably either before or after La Russa realized the Earth was round.
This is the same La Russa who was McGwire's manager during his first 10 seasons in the major leagues with the Oakland Athletics and his last five with the Cardinals. This is the same La Russa with a prominent law degree, which would make you think he is fairly observant -- maybe enough to see that somebody he was around nearly every day for 15 seasons was growing from a skinny little thing into Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. This is the same La Russa who told ESPN, "I'm really encouraged that [McGwire] would step forward. As we go along, his explanations will be well received."
Guess La Russa really does think the Earth is flat. Either that, or he wants the rest of us to believe as much.
Whatever the case, McGwire just made life crazier for himself, La Russa, the Cardinals and baseball. That's because, after years in seclusion following his "I'm not here to talk about the past" disaster before a Congressional hearing on steroids, McGwire was hired by La Russa after last season to be the Cardinals' new hitting coach. He didn't face the general media then, and he still hasn't done so (Monday night's interview on the MLB Network doesn't count). And despite what La Russa thinks, along with McGwire, for that matter ("I'm going to pour myself into this job ...," McGwire said in his AP statement, suggesting he won't have time in the future to answer a lot of questions about this stuff), the questions about McGwire and steroids won't end soon.
Actually, those questions will never end. Those questions will pound McGwire's ears at home and on the road. Those questions will consume everybody associated with the organization from spring training through the end of the season. Then, similar to what happened to the San Francisco Giants during their latter days with Barry Bonds and his steroids mess, those questions will cause resentment in the clubhouse while affecting the team in the standings.
Those questions also will lead to more questions throughout the game.
For instance: Since McGwire gave his no-news confession, why can't Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz and Bonds do the same -- or even more? And, as was the case for La Russa and others who were around McGwire during all of those seasons, how could anybody within a Louisville Slugger of Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Ortiz and the rest not know what they were doing?
What about those historic numbers? In 1998, for instance, McGwire soared past Roger Maris for the most home runs during a regular season. Sosa did the same. Three years later, Bonds did better than both of them, but those players were frauds, because they were artificially inflated, which means their numbers were, too.
Does this mean an asterisk should sit before or after their names whenever they are mentioned in a record book? Should we just throw their names out of the record books, along with everybody's name from the steroid era?
This is for sure: McGwire has a couple of ulterior motives here, and I told you about one of them -- his wrongheaded attempt through that AP statement to make his steroid questioners vanish. As for the other, he wishes to change his Hall of Fame status, because right now, he doesn't have one. He has been embarrassed during his four years on the ballot by not getting more than 24 percent of the vote. You need 75 percent for induction, and he was at 23.7 percent this year, and he knows why.
He is considered a disingenuous cheat, which isn't good if you're trying to impress your average Hall of Fame voter. I'm one of them. In fact, I join others by taking the words seriously on the ballot about our need to consider the "integrity" and "character" of candidates. So, by doing what McGwire did on Monday with his version of a death-bed confession long before the electric chair is in sight, he expects to satisfy his "integrity" and "character" issues among Hall of Fame voters.
Not a chance. Not when it is obvious that McGwire is trying to play us for a bunch of suckers. Among other things, he told the MLB Network that he only took performance-enhancing drugs to recover from injuries -- which is sightly more believable than anything La Russa has said on the matter. He also said he doesn't care about Cooperstown, when he really does.
Well, I don't care about his 583 home runs. I don't care about his ranking in the top 10 in MVP voting five times, or his reaching 12 All-Star Games, or his winning a Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year honors.
Oh, and I really don't care that McGwire is coming clean (well, relatively speaking) when he thinks it is convenient for him.