McGwire’s first statement showed some remorse, but was mostly factual. His interview with Bob Costas on MLB Network was much more sincere and showed a side of McGwire that fans hadn’t seen before. The tears, the sniffles, the red eyes, and his entire demeanor showed that he truly is sorry for what happened.
Here’s the thing: As much as it is painful to say so, where would MLB be without that 1998 Home Run Race between Sammy Sosa and Big Mac? Would MLB be any where near the sports power it is today? The strike in 1994 had decimated baseball and the Sosa-McGwire competition revitalized the game. If McGwire hadn’t been juicing, what would baseball look like today?
McGwire made a mistake and shouldn’t have used steroids. However, there is some part of me that’s glad that he did. He and Sosa revived baseball. They made it what is today – both the good and the bad. They were two of the main results of the steroid era and their success fueled other players to start using steroids. However, they also built up the sport into the huge industry it is today.
So in one way, we should be condemning McGwire for his poor decision and ostracizing him from baseball. On the other hand, we owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing fans back to the diamond.
In the end, I’m indifferent. McGwire’s statement is meaningless to me. Everyone knew he used steroids. Him confessing it confirms what everyone already knew to be true. It shows character to be able to come back and admit it, especially after his “I’m not hear to talk about the past” speech five years ago. In terms of baseball and how I view McGwire’s career, this doesn’t change my opinion of him at all.
I think McGwire took a bullet for baseball. So did Sosa. They weren’t chosen nor did they choose this title, but the fact that those two ended up in the home run race that may have saved baseball means that we do owe them thanks. The fact that they cheated to do so means that we cannot include them in the Hall of Fame or count their numbers as truly meaningful. All other steroid users cheated in the game and didn’t add anything to it. McGwire and Sosa both contributed to this sport more than we know.
For that baseball fans owe them indifference. You cheated and you helped the game. I am not in awe of your numbers, but I’m also not angry that you cheated. You deceived fans, but in the end, it helped baseball. I can only complain so much when that is the final result.