So I had planned to project the Cardinals 2010 lineup/order today, but breaking news and interesting press conferences don't happen all that often this time of year, so when they do occur...you just gotta go with it.
Mark McGwire admitted steroid use on a conference call earlier today, and then again in an interview with Bob Costas a few minutes ago on the MLB Network. I've got a few reactions.
First, why now? Well that's pretty obvious, he had to make some sort of statement or he and the Cardinals would have been distracted by steroid questions deep into the summer. The more interesting question is, if he had not been named the Cardinals Hitting Coach, would he have been this forthcoming with information about his usage? McGwire is a very private person, and if you listened to the conference call today, you could tell how broken up he was about it. His voice cracked several times and you could tell how hard it was for him to share all of this. One starts to realize why he went into seclusion after his retirement; he was deeply ashamed by his steroid use.
Second, how does McGwire fit in with other players in his era? Baseball is a game of eras, whether historians want to admit it or not. Nobody views the Earned Run Average's of pitchers being ridiculous during the dead ball era, or during the 1960's. Nobody questions the legitimacy of Bob Gibson's 1968 (the "Year of the Pitcher) statistics. Gibson was throwing off a 15 inch mound to a strike-zone the size of a plasma television. Nobody challenged his ungodly ERA of 1.12. McGwire became a scapegoat of the steroid-era because he was one of the first associated with the juice. He was also one of the most successful. Until a year or two ago, McGwire and Barry Bonds were the faces of steroids. After Jose Canseco's books and the Mitchell Report, that has changed. Now guys you never would have expected to be juicing were implicated, guys like A-Rod and Manny Ramirez. Suddenly, McGwire's statistics don't look so ridiculous. Suddenly, Big Mac doesn't look so bad.
Finally, how will St. Louis and all of the MLB remember McGwire. Cardinal fans are the best in the game. I don't care what anyone says. I've been a lot of Major League cities and none of them are as crazy about their team as St. Louis. Sorry Yankee and Red Sox fans, that means you too. Cardinal fans also tend to be blindly forgiving, and I think that is how they will treat McGwire. He was given a standing ovation in 2006 when he returned to Busch for the final game at the old stadium, and I believe that after this confession, the Cardinals will love Big Mac forever. Baseball fans as a whole tend to be quite forgiving. Andy Pettite is looked at like a stand-up guy after his confession. Nobody remembers just how deep the hatred for Alex Rodriguez was in February. I believe McGwire will be forgiven in the same manner. Does this mean he will get into the Hall of Fame? I don't know. Probably not. If La Russa plays him this fall and his HOF clock starts over, that will certainly improve his chances. Ultimately, I believe McGwire will go down much more like Pettite and Rodriguez, and much less like Roger Clemens. I believe he's going to be a hell of a hitting coach too.
That's all for tonight guys. I'll project the lineup/order sometime later this week. You guys are the best.