Monday, October 26, 2009

Mark McGwire Returns to the Crosshairs

Man, what a strange off-season this has been so far. Nothing, absolutely nothing, on the Cardinal front for two weeks, straining the available subject matter for bloggers.

Then everything happens at the same time.

My Blogger Round Table Post.
My NL MVP award Post at the BBA site.
Interview with Bill DeWitt III this afternoon on the UCB radio show.

Then, the Cardinals announce the return of Tony LaRussa for 2010. Dave Duncan is expected to return as well, as is virtually all of the coaching staff. Except for the hitting instructor; Hal McRae to be replaced by Mark McGwire.

Wait, hold up: THAT Mark McGwire? Living in exile in Orange County these past 5 years, following his appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Steriod Use in Baseball?

Get ready for the firestorm and recrminiations, folks.

There will be lots of voices out there demanding McGwire come clean about his steroid use (see here), and some voices saying who cares if he doesn't talk about it (see here). You want my opinion? Either McGwire shouldn't talk about it at all, or he should say something like this:

"I was asked by Tony to be the hitting coach for the Cardinals. It's a great opportunity, and I'm grateful he thinks highly enough of me to ask me to be a coach. There are a lot of great hitters on this team, and I hope in some small way to make them better.

"Because I've been out of the spotlight for a number of years, and the allegations of my steriod use during my playing days, many in the media and general public believe that, as part of my stepping into this coaching position, I owe an updated answer on what, if any, supplements I used during my career. I'm here today to say I won't be responding to those questions, now or ever.

"Enough time has passed, and enough ink has been spilt speculating on what I did or did not do, that everyone who cares to form an opinion on this has. If I say 'Categorically, I didn't use steriods', some will believe it, some won't. If I state I used steroids, I won't be able to coach effectively because players can say 'I can't do what you did without cheating'. That's before and after the media and bloggers 'spit on my grave' over the statement.

"So you can print and believe whatever you want. I'm here to help this team be more productive offensively in 2010. Judge me on that, question me on that, not on what might or might not have happened while I was playing baseball in Oakland and St Louis."

(Update #1: Or, he could fly into a rage, flip the podium over, and tell everyone to kiss his not-as-big-as-it-used-to-be white ass. You know, whichever works for him.)

McGwire doesn't owe me an explanation and he doesn't owe the BBWAA an explanation. How they're going to vote on his HOF resume is already well documented; he's not going to change any minds now. What they should judge him on is his performance as a hitting instructor. I for one look forward to seeing what he can do in that regard.

Update #2: Some bonehead at Cards Clubhouse wondered why the Cardinals would hire a .263 career hitter. Consider:

- St Louis as a team ranked 18th in MLB in wOBA.
- McGwire has a career .415 wOBA.
- McGwire's average wOBA would have been fifth best in the majors in 2009.

Maybe that's why.

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