The St. Louis Cardinals surprisingly made Mark McGwire their next hitting coach yesterday. Despite alleged steroid use the Cardinal family has lured McGwire out of hiding and welcomed “Big Mac” home with open arms.
Ever since his career ended in 2001 McGwire has been in extreme incognito mode. The only significant appearance he’s made was when he pulled a Fred Astaire and danced around the question of whether he took steroids as he stood before Congress March 17, 2005.
This is obviously a ploy to get the Paul Bunyan look a like into the Hall of Fame. Giving McGwire a job puts him back in the limelight. It also allows him a chance to subliminally seduce writers into forgiving him with his mere presence.
Remember Alex Rodriguez lying on national television about taking steroids in an interview with Katie Couric? During spring training he called a press conference and kind of apologized for lying about his steroid use back in 2003 while a Texas Ranger.
We don’t remember that now. We talk about A-Rod in glowing terms these days. We hear how he’s more relaxed, humble, and enjoying baseball. “A-Rod” is not “A-Roid” anymore because his New York Yankees are winning and he’s playing well.
Then there’s perennial black sheep Barry Bonds. Bonds has been hailed as the poster-boy for steroids even though he’s not been busted by baseball or in the court of law. We don’t even hear Bonds’ name in the media anymore.
Bonds was simply snubbed. He finds himself a stranger to the game he once played so well. Two seasons ago Bonds expressed interest in wanting to continue his career after the San Francisco Giants didn’t offer him a contract. His agent Jeff Borris notified teams of his desire to play in 2008. Not one team seriously considered signing one of the greatest players of all time who could still play.
Then there’s McGwire, whom Bonds surpassed for the single season home run mark in 2001, gets welcomed back into the game many thought he shamed.
Yes, both Bonds and McGwire have been linked to steroids. But without question when one here’s the word “steroid” and “baseball” we’ve been conditioned to think Barry Bonds.
Isn’t there a double-standard here? How come Bonds couldn’t get signed to play another season yet McGwire gets a job amidst his likely steroid use?
Here’s my take. Bonds got blackballed from the league with the blessing of Commissioner Bud Selig. Also, Selig and the great Hank Aaron are good friends. We all know Bonds broke Aarons’ all-time homerun mark and Aaron isn’t exactly president of the Barry Bonds fan club. I think Selig put the word out on Bonds for teams not to sign Bonds.
To add insult to injury the media simply stopped talking about Bonds as if he never existed. We know during his career Bonds didn’t necessarily endear himself to the media but give me a break. He’s one of the best players of all time.
With Selig’s possible endorsement of teams ignoring Bonds coupled with the Medias intent to neglect Bonds he’ll stay out of site and out of mind.
Does race play a factor here?
Yes, but it’s not the only factor. There’s been a clear double-standard with respect to how the media has treated Bonds as opposed to McGwire. It’s also an issue of fairness.
How else can it be explained why Bonds has been snubbed from playing yet McGwire rises from the dead and lands a coaching position?
Another interesting note is this: McGwire is being hired as a hitting coach. How can a player who has a career batting average of .263 teach someone anything about hitting? McGwire was a juiced slugger, not a great hitter.
Hal McRae was fired to make room for McGwire. McRae batted .290 over 18 years in the Major Leagues he also had two stints as a manager. Seems McRae would know more about hitting than McGwire. But since St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and McGwire are buddies from their Oakland days I guess McGwire’s hiring was a matter of taking care of your own.
In being objective the Cardinals organization can hire who they wish. It’s their money. But it’s about an issue of fairness. If Bonds and McGwire are in similar situations with respect to alleged steroid use one shouldn’t be embraced back in baseball while the other is purposely kept out.