Was Anyone Surprised By Mark McGwire’s Admission of Steroids?

Mark McGwire’s admission that he took steroids was about as shocking as the sun coming up this morning. All McGwire did was confirm was the rest of us already knew, that he cheated and joined a big list of others who brought disgrace on the game of baseball during what’s become known as the Steroid Era.

I don’t blame McGwire completely. Part of the blame undoubtably falls on Major League Baseball, who turned a blind eye to the problem and hoped that it would just go away. Not until the steroid scandal became a headline news story did baseball take the issue seriously.

Can you really fault McGwire or anyone else for taking steroids when they knew they wouldn’t ever be tested for it? I once had a baseball player tell me that steroids made an average player good, a good player great and a great player a Hall of Famer. If a player could hit 40 home runs instead of 30 and hit .300 instead of .275, it potentially meant tens of millions of dollars in more earnings.

Some people are praising McGwire for finally coming out and telling the truth. But I’ll tell you why he did it now…he was recently named the hitting instructor for the St. Louis Cardinals and doesn’t want the scrutiny of the steroid issue hanging over him or the team all season. Of course the issue will still be there, but now that he’s come clean, it will be less of a distraction. I’m sure it’s a huge load off his shoulders to have admitted this, but I don’t think it was for genuine reasons.

So now that he’s admitted using steroids, the question is whether he’ll be more likely to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Ryne Sandberg came out strongly against McGwire as did other players. The answer was and still is “no”, at least for the short term.

I believe at least for the foreseeable future, none of the players implicated during the Steroid Era will get into the Hall, including McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Raphael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens. Having said that, I wouldn’t be shocked if 20-30 years down the road, people looks at this era a little less harshly and vote a number of the guys in through the Veteran’s Committee.

I was listening to a sportstalk show today and a caller said he felt bad for Roger Maris’s family who was present at the game in 1998 when McGwire broke their father’s single season home run record. I can tell you how they feel – cheated.