McGwire indirectly enacted his 5th Amendment rights that afternoon in Washington D.C. and repeated in various patterns that he was not there to "talk about the past, but was there to be positive about the subject." At the time, not talking about the past and being positive about the subject amounted to him screaming I'm guilty as charged and I want to move on.
And for five years, move on is what he did.
McGwire reportedly kept a low profile with his family in Southern California, playing golf and doing some independent hitting instruction work - which included current big leaguers Matt Holliday and Skip Schumaker.
Then, his former manager, Tony LaRussa reached out to him via text offering him an opportunity to become the St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor. On October 25, 2009, Mark McGwire accepted the chance to get back in the game he once revived with fellow steroid star, Sammy Sosa.
Additionally, McGwire took the opportunity to set the record straight and admitted his steroid use during his 583 home run career.
Before the Spring of 2010, McGwire confirmed his steroid use - validating the long time opinion of the public. McGwire did what he had to do by admitting use, and was then free to do what he had to do - be the St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor without whispers.
Chase Field - Matt Holliday hits a home run for the St. Louis Cardinals (Photo-Craig Turley)
The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals led the league in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage. The Redbirds were also the only team in the National League to strike out less than 1,000 times under McGwire's tutelage. Oh yea - you may have also heard they won the World Series.
This year? Even better. The Cardinals, minus one mega superstar named Albert, lead the National League in batting average (.285), on base percentage (.356), slugging percentage (.469), and are second in runs scored (198) to the Atlanta Braves.
In addition, there has been a revitalization of stagnant careers of former All Star's Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran, and Lance Berkman - all of whom at one point over the last few years were considered "past their prime." Furcal is second in the league in hitting, behind only David Wright, with a .359 batting average; while Beltran leads the National League in home runs (13) and is second in runs batted in (32). All this offense while Pujols is struggling in Anaheim and Lance Berkman has been injured. The Cardinals batting lineup has been so good this year that All Star catcher Yadier Molina is hitting .301 and he has the seventh highest batting average on the team.
McGwire has done the job.
Seven years ago, McGwire was a picture of shame and embarrassment. The other baseball stars that day testifying were Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and Curt Schilling.
Palmeiro was the most theatrical that day, emphatically waiving his finger in anger (as guilty people do) that he has never used steorids. Palmeiro tested positive for steroids five months later. Palmeiro stated that he never knowingly ingested the steroids - just like certain Presidents never inhaled. Palemeiro continues to deny knowingly using steroids.
Meanwhile, Sammy Sosa forgot English that very day in March and has not been heard of much since. In a 2009 report, the New York Times confirmed Sosa was one of 104 players that tested positive for steroids in 2003.
Although Canseco was correct on many of the players he implicated in his book about steroids, he continues to tweet irrational things and was banned from a Mexican baseball leauge this past spring for refusing to take a drug test.
Schilling, the most outspoken critic of performance enhancing drugs during and after his playing days, has run into other issues. Schilling's company, 38 Studios, recently missed a $1.13 million debt payment to the state of Rhode Island. Schilling has frequently been quoted as saying that if you used steroids in baseball, you should not be eligible for the hall of fame in baseball. I am curious how he feels about second chances now.
Mark McGwire does deserve a second chance. Mark McGwire has earned a second chance.
He may have been the only truthful soul at the Congressional hearing March 17, 2005 - including Congress.
He wasn't ready that day to talk about the past.
He has done that now.
He has become a positive influence through his actions, not words.
Well done Big Mac.
Until Next Time,
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