In news that will come as a surprise to approximately no one, Mark McGwire today admitted to a career of steroid use. McGwire, the only Hall-of-Fame eligible member of the 500-home run not enshrined in Cooperstown, is making his return to the field this year as the Cardinals’ bench coach and decided today that honesty was the best policy.
McGwire’s own words tell the story:
“I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize. I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the nineties, including during the 1998 season.
“I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.
“During the mid-90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years. I experienced a lot of injuries, including a rib cage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was definitely a miserable bunch of years and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and prevent injuries too.
“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”
From around baseball, the reactions from those in charge and those close to the former slugger are as expected. Tony LaRussa, as he has done since day one, defended his man, and Bud Selig just sounded awkward about it. “I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player. Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Senator George Mitchell to conduct his investigation,” the Commissioner said. “This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s reentry into the game much smoother and easier.”
In the end, the same reporters who urged McGwire to come forward with his admissions, as Joel Sherman did in October, are already critiizing him for doing just that, as Joel Sherman did an hour ago. The moral outrage is bound to grow until it becomes insufferably loud.
For his part, though, McGwire did what he had to do even if it is of no great shock to the rest of us. He’ll talk about tonight at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network with Bob Costas.