Mark McGwire admitted steroid use today… and there was a collective yawn. I remember being caught up in the home run chase of ’98 with McGwire and Sosa that help reinvigorate baseball fans across the nation. However, as a 15 year old boy, I can’t remember for the life of me one sportscaster breathe a word of steroid use among either McGwire or Sosa. I vividly remember those larger-than-life video game-like characters smashing monster 500 foot home runs that summer and being totally captivated. I’d wake up every day to watch Sportscenter and see what had happened the night before. My friend Zack traveled to a Pirates game at old Three Rivers Stadium and caught a Sammy Sosa homer that summer (and, neat enough, appeared on Sporstcenter himself, diving through a sea of fans for the ball).
Unwittingly, I was part of the problem, unfortunately. Now, obviously, back in 1998 my understanding of steroids was minimal at best. I knew that there were body builders that used them to garner obnoxious adults. However, it wasn’t until a few years later that I start to remember hearing whispers of steroid use in baseball.
Obviously, in hindsight it seems like a ‘duh’ kind of statement to say that there’s a generation of baseball players (and statistics) that benefited from juicing. It doesn’t take the most adept statistician to look at the numbers that baseball players were putting up in that era and see that some drastic change had taken place. And it wasn’t the size of the stadiums, the bats or the balls. Does anyone remember 1996? I do, because that was the year that Brady Anderson smacked 50 home runs.
And that’s not to say that there was no one asking questions during that time because there were concerned people. A select few in the baseball community were asking the tough questions that no one wanted answered. The real problem was that the overwhelming voices of the media, clubhouses, and front offices were much more adamant about talking about the ‘thrill of the long ball’ than they were about the potentially devastating consequences of exposing PED use in baseball. And think about the fans. How many stadiums sold out during that ‘magical’ home run chase of 1998? Anywhere McGwire and Sosa went that year was sold out.
Now, having said that, am I glad Mark McGwire came forward with this steroid admission? Absolutely. Does this move me or make me feel better about what Mark McGwire did? Absolutely not. Mark McGwire did nothing more than admit to what we, as baseball fans, had already assumed justly or not. McGwire devoted years to lying about his steroid use. Years. He looked in the faces of fans, the media, and even Congress and blatantly and willingly lied. In fact, if you look at what he said, ultimately, he doesn’t even admit that steroids did anything to help him smash those towering home runs. Aside from his ego and desire to not be associated with Jose Canseco, I can’t imagine why he would feel the need to lie from the questioning for five straight years if he truly felt remorse for being a PED user .
I hope this brought McGwire some peace of mind, because as an apology to whoever the fudge it was the muddled crying was to, it was pretty much worthless.