Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thoughts in McGwire's Return

I was a HUGE fan of McGwire growing up. I collected the guy's baseball cards, I followed his box score everyday, I remember watching the Cardinals games when he was close to breaking Maris' home-run record, to me he was what made the game fun to watch again (after the strike). When him and Sosa and Palmeiro were testifying and the question came to him, I was hoping that he would say, "yes I did it" or "I didn't do it" but he said neither...he didn't say anything.

After that, McGwire pretty much fell off the map. He all but vanished as far as public appearances went. And now, out of nowhere, he resurfaces after a few years completely out of the spotlight. And now, he may finally have to face (and answer) the question that us fans have wanted to know all along. Now, I think it's fairly obvious what the answer is, but that's not the point, the point is getting to hear it from him.

To me, McGwire is an anomaly when it comes to the steroids issue. The dude had legit power from the very beginning of his career, as a rookie, he hit 49 HRs which was an MLB record for HRs by a rookie. Over his first 6 seasons, he hit 217 HRs and made the all-star team every one of those 6 seasons. He was a young, scrawny phenom and looked poised to have a long, productive career. Then in 1993 he was hurt most of the season and only played in 74 games between the '93 and '94 seasons. When the strike hit in 1995, he had 39 HRs through 104 games and looked to be fully back. Physically he was becoming bigger as well. The 1996 season started a HR binge that lasted for the next 4 years, the likes of which baseball has never seen and probably never will see again. His totals for those 4 years were as follows:

1996: 52
1997: 58
1998: 70
1999: 65

By the time he was hitting that 70th HR in 1998, his physical stature would have dwarfed that scrawny power-hitter who burst on the scene 11 years earlier. But like I said earlier, that was the anamoly of the steriod-era. McGwire, throughout his entire career, was a power hitter. Though he might not have topped 60 HRs without the 'roids, he certainly didn't need them to hit it out of the park. I'm guessing that he started taking the steriods when he was injured during the 1993 season in order to speed the healing process. I just want him to give it to us straight. Baseball fans, for the most part, are a forgiving bunch and who of us wasn't glued to that television when he was swatting 500+ ft. homeruns in '97 and '98? He owes us all the truth. I'll leave you with a side-by-side of McGwire's first year in the league and his record-breaking year in 1998.

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