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Happy New Year!

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh

It certainly has been a quiet few months. Baseball is still in the back of the minds of most people with NFL playoffs and other professional sports still going on right now. The college football season has ended though and spring training is just around the corner.

Instead of talking about the Orioles today and their rather impressive offseason, I want to focus on something that upsets me very much. Cheating. And in the context of cheating, we are going to focus on steroids and their miserable impact on our beloved game since the mid-1990s.

The names that have been linked or rumored with steroids is vast: A-Rod, Manny, Bonds, Clemens, Ortiz, Sosa, Sheffield, Giambi, etc. But it was McGwire that always made my blood boil just a bit more.

Go back to 1987. Big Mac was not as big then, but he did win the AL Rookie of the Year Award and hit 49 home runs, a rookie record. The Oakland A's go to three straight World Series and win it all in 1989. Along with Jose Canseco (who would later blow the doors open in the steroid scandal), he formed a formidable 1-2 punch and was a member of the Bash Brothers squad that dominated the AL for several years.

McGwire was dealt to St. Louis in 1997. In four seasons with Oakland and the Cardinals he hit 52, 58, 70 and 65 home runs. Phenomenal! The country was in love with this guy and many rooted for him during the 1998 Home Run Chase between he and Sammy Sosa of the Cubs.

My brother and I were huge McGwire fans going back to 1988 or so. Especially my little brother. He loved Big Mac and had all his baseball cards along with other collectibles. Mark was unlike other superstars in that he was not loud and brash. He just did his job exceptionally well, did volunteer work on behalf of children, and was a preeminent role model during his era.

Even during the suspicions of steroid use, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Though my opinion of him wavered after his "no comment" during the congressional hearings of 2005. He has remained largely out of the spotlight since his retirement in 2001.

Now today, we finally get the truth. Big Mac admits to having used steroids in his career. What was feared has now been confirmed. And it sickens me.

The Hall of Fame voters have long felt this may have been the case and thus have not even gotten Big Mac anywhere near the 75% needed for admittance. In St. Louis, his number has not been retired nor has a statue gone up in his honor (though a portion of I-70 was named Mark McGwire highway at one point). Shame on Big Mac. Shame on all the other players, and shame on Bud Selig for not doing anything about this years ago.

If I were commissioner of MLB here is what I would do upon taking the job. 1) Reinstate Pete Rose. (more on that mess another time). And 2) Wipe the record books clean of the steroid tainting. This includes returning the single season HR record to Maris and the career record to Aaron. Take back trophies and awards from drug users and make the sport clean and honest once again. For those caught using now, they get banned for life. No excuses.

Like everyone else in 1998, I was caught up in the drama and fun of it all. Now, I am just a disgusted fan who feels that we have been defrauded of many years of enjoyment. Bud and his cronies have been dancing around the issue for years, so perhaps if MLB ever gets a real man in charge, things will be rectified.

I do thank McGwire for finally admitting what we all figured to be true anyway. I do hope all the other imbeciles come forward as well and let it all out (looking at you Bonds). Saddened as I am, today's revelations are good therapy for finally getting out of this pit once and for all.


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