Finally, Mark McGwire talked about the past.
A lot of baseball fans, especially ones my age, have been waiting for this moment since 1998. I was a teenager at the time, caught up in McGwire and Sammy Sosa‘s home run chase of Roger Maris‘ single-season record of 61.
McGwire shattered the record by hitting 70, but I was too naive at the time to realize something was amiss. To me, McGwire seemed a larger than life figure. Truth is, he was.
Once considered one of the game’s all-time great sluggers, McGwire was reduced to tears when discussing his steroid use from 1990-1998. The feelings of guilt seemed genuine. I don’t doubt that.
But what does irk me is this feeling he has that the "Steroid Era" caught him.
I have no doubt in my mind that there was a time, probably around 2000, when steroid use was prevalant. Maybe it is true that over half of all big leaguers were juicing at the time. That’s what former NL MVP Ken Caminiti said in 2002 when he admitted to using steroids during the mid-1990s.
But in 1990, I doubt it was prevalant. Maybe I continue to be naive. But the way players looked in 1990 and the way they looked in 2000 could not have been more different.
In some ways, McGwire ushered in the "Steroid Era" back then. He and teammate Jose Canseco led the Oakland Athletics to three straight American League pennants from 1988-1990, and now both are admitted users.
And to hear McGwire say he could hit 70 homers in a season had he not been on steroids, c’mon! Really! Do you really believe that?
I’ve been waiting for McGwire to talk about the past, and it was nice to hear him do so. I do think each admission helps the game move past that era. But I don’t want to hear how a player didn’t juice to improve performance, or that he could hit 70 homers without them.