In the wake of Mark McGwire’s published statements and subsequent weepy outpouring to Jean-Louis “Bob” Costas on the MLB Network yesterday, Big Mac’s variation on the tried and tested “I was just trying to stay in the lineup” defense has met with no shortage of detractors. “Like all confessions that are motivated by public relations as opposed to, say, police interrogation, this one has many of the hallmarks of phoniness we’ve come to expect,” sneers Circling The Bases’ Craig Calcaterra, while Faith & Fear In Flushing’s Greg Prince wonders, “he wishes he didn™t play in the Steroid Era? How does he suppose the period in question, the mid-™90s through the early ™00s, became the Steroid Era? Was it listed on a calendar in advance?” But full credit to fellow skeptic, Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record who doggedly pursued a storyline few others would dare consider — how did yesterday’s confessional sit with Steve Tracshel, notorious time-killer and the hurler who served up McGwire’s historic-at-the-time 62nd HR of the 1998 season?
In his heart, Trachsel knew it was all a charade, although he never uttered a word. He didn™t dare, not as McGwire and Sosa were riding shotgun on America™s longest love-in. The home runs were flying out of ballparks everywhere, and hardly anyone bothered to ask how or why.
œI™m not surprised Mark said it, Trachsel said. œI mean, we all suspected it. We all knew it. Now you have to say everything he ever did was tainted. All of it.
Trachsel remembers every last detail of his brush with history, including the fact that McGwire missed first base and had to be pulled back by first base coach Dave McKay.
œ[McGwire] should™ve been called out for that, Trachsel said. He smiled again: He knew any umpire who would™ve had the guts to challenge McGwire would™ve been overruled and eventually destroyed by baseball™s hierarchy.
There was no stopping the fraudulence that ensued for several more minutes, right up to the point when Sosa came sprinting in from right field. The hugs and head slaps looked real, but Trachsel said they were Sosa™s creation.
œMark wasn™t crazy about the fact that Sammy was there [at home plate], he said. œHe really didn™t like [Sosa] very much, but he played it off pretty well that night.
Klapisch considers Trachsel “vindicated”, and if there was some way in which McGwire’s admissions would erase Game 3 of the 2006 NLCS, I might agree.