I'm not making excuses for Mark McGwire's steroid use... But I am shocked at the way Cardinals fans continue to bash him on the local sports radio airwaves and on the internet comment threads.
Sure, what he did was wrong. But these comments that claim McGwire is beneath the Cardinals because he cheated are ridiculous. The Redbirds haven't exactly made it the franchise's mission to steer away from steroid users.
No one said a peep about Troy Glaus' alleged steroid use prior to joining the Cardinals in trade two off seasons ago. I can't recall an outcry over Ryan Franklin's 2005 steroid suspension when the Cardinals signed him. Rick Ankiel remained a fan favorite far beyond his on the field contributions even after he was reported to have received human growth hormone. Former Cardinals reliever Troy Cate tested positive for steroids when he was with the Seattle organization before St. Louis. Fans openly salivated over the prospect of adding Miguel Tejada to the Redbirds' lineup even though he was exposed last year as a steroid user.
It can be argued that Tejada's situation was even worse than McGwire's. While McGwire turned our stomachs by telling congressmen he wasn't there to talk about the past five years ago, Tejada outright lied about it by denying his use. He later plead guilty in court to a charge of lying to Congress.
Fans want Major League Baseball to drop the hammer on players who used performance enhancing drugs and give them the Pete Rose treatment with a lifetime ban. Are they serious in thinking baseball is going to lock out its biggest stars and ticket sellers?
It's over. It stinks... But we have to get past it. And, while I'm sure a vocal minority will hold onto their grudges for dear life and boo McGwire when he is introduced on opening day, I have a feeling a heckcuva lot more people are willing to let bygones be bygones with a standing ovation.
I am most interested at this point in seeing if McGwire can teach Cardinals hitters to strike out less and move runners around the bases more.