McGwire admitted to the AP and then to Bob Costas on MLB Network that he used steroids over several years, including in 1998 when he broke first Roger Maris's record and then Sammy Sosa's record for most home runs in a season. This, of course, was not news. Everyone knew he used steroids. It is nice to have him come clean (pun intended) and I've spent a lot of time on this blog defending McGwire. But today, I want to move on and stop "talking about the past."
Here is what should have happened. In 1998 when that AP reporter first broke the story about McGwire having Andro in his locker (which McGwire admitted using) Selig should have taken action. If he were truly a leader, and truly had the best interest of the game in his mind, he would have released the following statement:
"Mark McGwire has admitted to using Andro. While Andro is neither illegal nor currently banned by MLB, it is a known precursor to steroids. While I have no evidence of any player using steroids, I want to remind everyone that steroids are not permitted in major league baseball (see memo from Fay Vincent relied on by those who claim steroids were banned). While MLB does not have testing for steroids, I will personally push for steroid testing in the next agreement we collectively bargain with the union. We can not stand for steroids in baseball and I will do everything I can to prevent them from destroying our game. Those players tempted to use steroids, are hereby warned."
What kind of impact would this statement have made? I don't know, but I wager we wouldn't be talking about steroids in baseball right now had he made such a statement and followed through. Instead, he did nothing. Arguably, he did worse than nothing and actually condoned steroid use. The owners needed baseball to come back and as everyone knows, "chicks did the long ball."
Since that didn't happen, here is the only other thing that will end this. Players need to start telling the truth about their steroid use when they don't have to. A couple of guys need to come out and say, "I used steroids" even though they haven't been caught. Some guy needs to say, "thanks to McGwire coming clean, I want to do the same." It needs to be some guy that hasn't been on the radar for steroids. The chance of that happening: .0000001%.
The players union (and Don Fehr) of course had their chance. As you will recall, the Mitchell Report recommended amnesty for steroid users, which I supported at the time. The players union needed only to recommend that its players (clients) cooperate with the Mitchell Report. Of course, it couldn't force the players to cooperate. But here was baseball's chance to end all of this. A report, with full cooperation from the players, on what happened, with amnesty. Instead, the report had no chance. Although it got some info (because of McNamara's indictment) it was only a small piece of the puzzle.
Instead, the next thing down the line will be another name released off the list of 103, and we'll be discussing steroids every January (at HOF time) for the next 15 years.