I don’t like days like today. There was nothing enjoyable about reading Mark McGwire’s confession this afternoon, no fun in watching him cry on television tonight. McGwire made his decisions, and we’ve seen the results: Home runs, magazine covers, uncomfortable questions, a congressional hearing and now a tearful interview of regret.
I don’t think McGwire lied tonight when he told Bob Costas that he believes the steroids had no impact on his numbers. I think that’s false, but I think McGwire believes it. He said his first Little League at-bat was a home run. We all know he was a great home run hitter in college. As a big league rookie, he hit 49 out of the park. If anyone could naturally hit 70 in a season, why not McGwire?
Problem is, we’ll never know. McGwire didn’t do it naturally, and so we’re left with numbers that are both permanent and fleeting. Numbers that will never go away, but will be dismissed almost immediately. McGwire is left with questions he’ll never be able to answer to everyone’s satisfaction.
“A lot of athletes, when they love doing something, sometimes their body breaks down and they have the fear of not doing something they love,” Shelley Duncan said in a very nice piece by Tyler Kepner. “They’ll resort to anything. Sometimes when that happens, you do stupid things.”
McGwire did a stupid thing, and today he admitted it. Some will forgive him. Some won’t. As for me, I just think days like this are always sad days in baseball. Sad for the player. Sad for the fans. Sad for the game.