McGwire’s Return: Too Little, Too Late

The sports world is buzzing about the St. Louis Cardinals hiring former Home Run King, Mark McGwire as their hitting coach. While I personally have nothing against “Big Mac”, I am surprised that he was given a shot by baseball considering that he was directly involved with the Steroid Era.

Like millions of other fans, I was captivated by McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s 1998 season. After McGwire crushed 58 home runs in 1997, I picked up two of his 1985 Topps rookie cards for a measly $30 dollars. By the end of the decade, Beckett valued the card at well over $200 dollars.

Everything changed when Jose Canseco ratted out baseball after being  blackballed. Even the biggest Big Mac supporter had to feel shame after watching McGwire refuse to “talk about the past” in front of congress and then disappear into thin air with the exception of rare public appearances here and then.

As for that once valuable 1985 Topps which features McGwire as a skinny, pale kid … you can find it on eBay for under $1 dollar. His certified autographs however are a different story. Since Mark only signed with Upper Deck for a short time, there is not a lot out there and the prices reflect the dry market.

As for steroids in baseball, I’d be foolish to assume it’s now a thing of the past. Considering the fact that Tony LaRussa has been associated with two of the biggest Juicers of all-time in Canseco and McGwire and defended them while their manager, I wouldn’t be shocked if there was another cheater on the Cardinals today.

I’m not talking about Rick Ankiel …

Forgive AND forget ...?



  1. I was one of the fortunate people who got out right at the height of McGwire Mania. I was selling raw copies of this card for $150 at shows TO OTHER DEALERS! Have fun getting $150 for 100 of them now…

  2. Sad, sad stuff. I’m not sure what’s worse: Big Mac’s self imposed, self righteous exile or LaRussa’s sticking up for him.

    However, let’s not forget the AL Champions have 2 admitted juicers on the roster…and no one seems to care…so I guess let’s give the man a big welcome back!

  3. If the news came out tomorrow that Albert Pujols is using steroids, I would not be surprised. Part of me just assumes he is juicing, just look at his stats. So, no, this would not be startling news. The real backlash will come when Tiger Woods gets busted.

  4. It’s IMPOSSIBLE that Mario is talking about Pujols. Albert promised us he was clean!

    Mario must be talking about Mark DeRosa or Yadier Molina…

  5. Seriously, could you ask for anything else in a manager that Tony LaRussa doesn’t have?

    I have insane respect for LaRussa’s complete dedication to his players, and well, winning too.

    Tony’s right not involving himself in the player’s business. If someone wants juice, that’s their business. Your business as a manager is to turn the other way and protect that player with your dying breath.

    People play hard for the guy because they know he’s a sick, sick man that makes protecting his players his top priority.

    Tony’s lied to just about everyone, which i deem absolutely positively awesome.

  6. Smart move by the Cardinals, whether we hate him love or disrespect him doesn’t matter. The ticket buyers in St. Louis do matter, and he has a following just like Bonds has in San Fran. He will always be a local hero/icon and from a business point of view it is a great move.

  7. The only steroid user on the Cards is Ryan Franklin. Pujols has never been associated with steroids. Pujols’ #’s have been the same since he has been a rookie and haven’t dipped like everyone’s else’s since MLB started testing.

  8. “Pujols’ #’s have been the same since he has been a rookie and haven’t dipped like everyone’s else’s since MLB started testing.”

    Manny’s numbers haven’t dipped since they began testing.

  9. I wonder what the management of the Cardnals were thinking when they made this move. Pujols is a monster at the plate, what is he really going to learn from McGwire. I also wonder if this is McGwire’s plea to show baseball that he deserves to be in the hall, if St. Louis goes to another WS>

  10. I can’t believe that card is only a $1. I remember seeing it for $200 at shows.

    I wonder how getting back in the game will affect his HOF chances.

  11. I smell a post on my blog, but for comment sake, I have a problem with the way steroids have played out for Mr. McGwire.

    True, his lack of comment at the congressional hearings did not help his image, but it was his right to “plead the 5th” by not being there to talk about the past.

    My big problem is that what McGwire did from who knows when until after 1998 was legal. Andro was legal until 2004 and was not banned by the MLB until 2004. Is it cheating? In my eyes, no. It was legal across the board. Was it an advantage, yup.

    To keep McGwire out of the Hall for Andro is absurd. Gaylor Perry sits in the hall along with a tub of vaseline, which was not allowed by MLB, yet McGwire is “banished” for using a LEGAL substance?

    I can think of all kinds of players that had an advantage because of racial injustice, ball doctoring, greenies, cocaine (if that’s an advantage), cracker jack ballparks, etc.

    If anything, the MLB should welcome him with open arms and have him do PSAs.

  12. McGwire was my childhood hero, the reason I got into collecting cards, and a truly nice person to kids. I’m more than happy to see him back in baseball. As for his “self righteous exile,” I’d sure like to know what in the blue hell that is supposed to mean. CCC wants to point out the “two admitted juicers” on the Yankees – you can bet the Rays have had their share as well. It has been a problem in all 30 dugouts, so pointing out the Yankees doesn’t do a thing for whatever arguement you thought you were advancing.

  13. It’s not the point of legal or banned, it’s the MLB making a stand and using these guys as the scapegoats. Is that wrong, of course, but in order to clean the game, they have to set the example. People need to chill out with the HOF stuff. Eventually they will have to let these guys in, there is no way in 2020 that you could not have a 80’s -90’s wing with out them. To say that they will never get in is foolish, I know Pete Rose, that is different, he bet on the games, the players, played the game. If you can’t prove it, it goes away.

  14. I would be extremely disappointed if Pujols was revealed to be a cheater. He’s one of the few reasons to still like baseball, even though I don’t really like him. He shows that there are still some good players out there who are (hopefully) clean.

  15. People seem to forget that Andro by itself really doesn’t do all that much. Andro really only gains effectiveness when combined with you guessed it, steroids.

    To simplify, If andro by itself increases your performance by 1% and almost all other supplements give you 5%, why would you take andro? Athletes took it because when combined with steroids you’d get a 20% bump. The numbers are obviously made up, but you get the point.

  16. Having read all of that, it still seems rather simple that with larger arms, the lighter any given bat will be, which in turn means it can be swung faster. The speed of the bat striking the ball has an obvious effect. Why do you think a bunt doesn’t send the ball out of the park?

  17. Mario, why do you always bring up Pujols and associate him with steriods? How many years of passed drug tests does he have to have until you think he’s clean?


  19. Although I’m an Astros fan, I usually have a good deal of respect for LaRussa. This move however is all flash and no substance, and I’ll tell you why.

    Big Mac was supposedly brought in to be a hitting coach, but the problem is he was never much of a hitter, and never expressed much of an interest in learning how to become one
    So if he never had the knowledge, how is he gonna teach anything? McGwire had more strikeouts than hits in full or abbreviated seasons eight times in his career. That’s an absurd number. What’s he gonna do, tell the Cards hitters to swing hard in case they hit it? The only guy on the team with the kind of power that approach demands has already got it covered, thank you very much.

    McGwire had twice as many homers as doubles. A full third of his hits were homers. Who else other than Mario Mendoza would be asked to coach hitting after averaging 50 singles a year for his career?

    He was all power, all coaxed from the large steroid-fueled biceps. Even his very respectable onbase numbers can be traced to the fear factor his homers induced. Without the power he would have been nothing, and I’m guessing without the steroids he wouldn’t have had half the power.

    McGwire’s got nothing to teach. He wasn’t even good at hiding his PED use. For LaRussa to present McGwire as his hitting coach is a joke, it’s a move based totally on PR, not on qualified personnel. If TLR was serious about hiring a hitting coach he would’ve gotten Jaramillo.

  20. Yo, I’m in STL and I think there’s alot of hesitation to welcome McGwire back without reservations. (and who didn’t suspect steroids) As for the allegations about Pujols, it’s really unnecessary. He’s been a model of consistency, and doesn’t show the same sudden improvements that many users have had. Has it gotten to the point that every star is immediately under suspicion? Yes, I’m biased, but there isn’t a professional athlete that I would be SURPRISED to hear was cheating, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to make baseless allegations.

  21. three cheers for mcgwire!!! how soon we forget. everyone wants home runs, everyone wants tape measure home runs, everyone wants a good home run race. mcgwire gave us all of these things, and no i do not think it was because of the andro. i don’t know that much about steroids but i do know they don’t hep your timing and your eye co ordination better. so the ball went twenty or thirty feet further than it would have gone, isn’t that what everyone wanted? remember all the fans who came just to watch him take batting
    practice?. i love big mac not only as a ball player but as a human being. lets not forget all the things he has done for the fans and especially the kids. my all time favorite players are mickey mantle and babe ruth. try to remembeaar how many times they struck out. hitting a home run is one of the hardest things in sports to do, and mcgwire was one of the best to hit home runs. i love you big mac, welcome back! i can’t wait for the day that you take your rightful place among the greatest who ever played this game. you deserve it!!!! god bless!

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