Return of the Big Mac
It's an off day in the World Series so what better time to go a bit off-topic?
If you're any kind of baseball fan you've probably heard that Tony La Russa is welcoming former single-season home run king Mark McGwire back to baseball by adding him to his St. Louis Cardinals staff as hitting coach.
While one might think that Major League Baseball would want to distance itself from a player that was prominent during the Steroid Era (though never proven guilty of taking steroids), Commissioner Bud Selig is welcoming McGwire back with open arms.
"Over the years I developed affection for players who I get to know and have been good," Selig said on Thursday in reference to McGwire.
The move marks the largest, if not first, step baseball has made toward accepting the Steroids Era where home run totals went through the roof to the delight of fans and the chagrin of baseball purists.
But by opening its arms to McGwire, has baseball opened the door for other players who have been disgraced by association to get back into the game? There have already been plenty of players who have returned to the field after having tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, including World Series participants Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte. What makes the McGwire hiring so interesting is that it's a player being brought back in to the league in a leadership role.
McGwire could wind up being a rare case, as he benefits from having a strong personal relationship with La Russa. But it's also possible that we will look back at this hiring the same way we view his summer of 70 home runs: where McGwire becomes the first to reach a new plateau but not the last.
Of course, I wonder if this greases the wheels for McGwire to some day be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame as he quietly goes about repairing his tarnished (rightfully or not) image.
Further, does McGwire's hiring mean we could some day see a team take a chance and hire Barry Bonds as a hitting instructor or special assistant? Hard to say, but let us know what you guys think in the comments.
October 30, 2009; 1:31 PM ET
Categories: Cardinals | Tags: mark mcgwire, st. louis cardinals, steroids
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