[Ed. note - below is one of a series of one question interviews completed before we left for vacation. Please keep in mind as you read that we are still cutting our chops asking "hard hitting questions" so I hope you all find these interesting. Today's interviewee is Aaron Hooks of Cardinals Diaspora, where Cards news and humor mesh together. Today's subject is a little more serious, but Hooks knocked it out of the park. Thanks Aaron!]
PH8: Mark McGwire is a polarizing figure in St Louis. A statue has been cast, Mac has a standing invitation to be an instructor with the Cards in Spring Training, there is still a highway named after him in downtown St Louis. What will it take for McGwire’s legacy to finally be settled one way or another in St Louis, for good (setting the statue outside Busch III) or bad (trying to completely erase his attachment to the club)?
Aaron Hooks: Could Mark McGwire actually be playing this whole situation smart? Years ago during his embarrassing “I’m not here to talk about the past” debacle Congress squeezed in between sessions of screwing pages and the economy to even ask that question would have been ridiculous.
Maybe not so much. Every couple of months since 2005 another big name player comes under intense scrutiny for using steroids and is forced to go through the process: apologize, act contrite, do some PSA’s, wash, rinse and repeat.
As time marches on we’re starting to realize in St. Louis that Mark McGwire may have been at the forefront of the public backlash from steroids, but wasn’t necessarily the most egregious offender.
Did he use steroids? Probably.
Was he alone? Not even close.
Hindsight is 20/20 and St. Louis, like the rest of the country, is beginning to realize that no one who made a name for themselves in the 90’s is free from suspicion.
So what can Mr. McGwire do to enhance his legacy? Talk. Only once. And do it honestly. I mean guts on the floor, tears on the cheek, wife’s hand in tow- all of it.
McGwire is a pretty honorable guy. He turned down nearly 30 million dollars guaranteed to play 3 more years after 1999. He refused to lie in front of Congress, because he knew the witch hunt would be on as soon as he did. He’s been committed to not being a distraction to the Cardinals, even though players are begging him to instruct. The great memories from 1998 may never be restored to a brilliant luster… but like the rest of us- Big Mac made some mistakes. He’s let some time pass. He’s ready to be welcomed back with open arms.
We, as fans, haven’t really gotten the real deal from these guys that abused in the 1990’s. Alex Rodriguez, for all his shortcomings, was as truthful as he could have been, I suppose. But Mr. McGwire doesn’t have anything to lose at this point. If he’s contrite, honest and open St. Louis WILL fete him out as one of the great Cardinals of all time… which he happens to be.
Read the stylings of Aaron Hooks regularly at Cardinals Diaspora.