Almost 12 years after his retirement as an active baseball player, Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire was greeted today by a blog entry from “The Rocket That Fell To Earth” and “Love Me, Hate Me : Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero” author Jeff Pearlman demanding he be further exiled from Major League Baseball. In the wake of MLB’s punitive actions towards Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, Pearlman says of McGwire, “if Bud Selig is serious about shaming those who robbed the game of its decency, his first step should be to prevent McGwire from ever working for MLB in any capacity—ever.”
Think about it: What Braun did sucks. What A-Rod did sucks. What McGwire did, however, was morally criminal. In the process of breaking Babe Ruth’s record, Roger Maris was booed, jeered, threatened, taunted. He lost his hair and much of his weight; took up smoking to calm his shattered nerves. The record wasn’t a mere record. It was an iconic symbol; the number a tribute to a man’s strength and determination and, yes, decency.
McGwire didn’t just mess with that. He ran it over with a truck; slammed it over the skull with a steel bar; said, “To hell with history, to hell with sportsmanship—I will do whatever it takes to eliminate Roger Maris from the record book.” And he did.
To his credit (I suppose), McGwire is likeable and contrite. He has expressed regret and remorse and … and … I don’t care.
Strangely, there’s no mention anywhere in Pearlman’s salvo of the man that managed McGwire during the overwhelming majority of his playing career (and staunchly defended him afterwards), Tony La Russa. Though we’ve yet to read any recovered memories from Jose Canseco claiming La Russa personally injected McGwire with deca durabolin, there’s no arguing the former A’s/Cardinals manager benefited greatly from McGwire’s presence in his lineups.