Commissioner Bud Selig has issued a statement regarding Mark McGwire’s admission today that the former slugger used steroids.
The statement doesn’t begin with, “It’s about time.”
“I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player. Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Senator George Mitchell to conduct his investigation. This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s reentry into the game much smoother and easier.
“While we, along with all sports organizations, continue to battle the use of such drugs and continue the intensive search for a valid test for HGH, I believe our drug testing program is the toughest and most effective in professional sports. Last year in the Major Leagues, we had only two positives for steroids out of 3,722 tests. We have banned and aggressively test for amphetamines, substances which club doctors and professional athletic trainers have told me had presented serious problems for the sport for decades. Our minor league program will begin its 10th year in 2010. We conducted 8,995 tests in the minor leagues last year of which less than eight-tenths of one percent was positive.
“The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst today’s players has greatly subsided and is virtually non-existent as our testing results have shown. The so-called “steroid era” - a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances - is clearly a thing of the past, and Mark’s admission today is another step in the right direction.”
A step that McGwire took before the media pounced on him next month at the Cardinals’ spring training camp in Jupiter.
You figured this day was coming once the Cardinals hired him as hitting coach. Better to get it out of the way now and let the forgiving begin.
Check out the story here, which includes the following statement from McGwire:
“Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago.
“I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize. I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the ’90s, including during the 1998 season.
“I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.
“During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years. I experienced a lot of injuries, including a ribcage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was definitely a miserable bunch of years and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and prevent injuries, too.
“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.
“Baseball is really different now -- it’s been cleaned up. The commissioner and the players’ association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.
“I’m grateful to the Cardinals for bringing me back to baseball. I want to say thank you to Cardinals owner Mr. DeWitt, to my GM, John Mozeliak, and to my manager, Tony La Russa. I can’t wait to put the uniform on again and to be back on the field in front of the great fans in Saint Louis. I’ve always appreciated their support and I intend to earn it again, this time as hitting coach. I’m going to pour myself into this job and do everything I can to help the Cardinals hitters become the best players for years to come.
“After all this time, I want to come clean. I was not in a position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.”
La Russa claims that he didn’t know McGwire used steroids until receiving a phone call earlier today. Talk about being asleep at the wheel.
Plenty of Hall of Fame voters have decided to ignore McGwire for reasons beyond his suspected steroid use. They just don’t think this numbers stack up - beyond all those home runs, of course. Dave Kingman isn’t in Cooperstown, either.
I’m just glad McGwire didn’t claim that he experimented once in a weak moment, or that someone spiked his protein shake. He’s admitting that he took them, on and off, for nearly a decade.
It’s about time.