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Published:January 13th, 2010 10:17 EST
Mark McGwire's Steroid Admission: How to Respond?

Mark McGwire's Steroid Admission: How to Respond?

By Geoff Dean

 Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, a pop idol and one-fifth of Japanese super group, SMAP, was stressed out last fall. So he had a little to drink. A little too much. And quite a lot more after that. He ended up in a public park at 3AM shouting his head off. Completely naked.

 He was arrested and charged with being a public nuisance and indecent exposure (soon dropped). One government minister, Kunio Hatoyama, brother of the current PM, called him "a disgrace to Japan." Kusanagi`s manager ordered him to stay at home for one month as punishment.

 After a month, he returned to the set of the "SMAPxSMAP" variety show and offered a tearful mea culpa live on TV and to a massive rating spiked crowd. By the end of the year, he was starring in a TV Drama where he played a soft-hearted yakuza, hosted a number of variety programs, starred on the NHK year end music special, and was more popular than ever. And Kunio Hatoyama was out of a job.

 No, you do not have the wrong number. This is an article about Mark McGwire. My point is that people can be forgiven and come back stronger. Or not. (Ask Pete Rose).

 Mark finally fessed up to steroid use that everyone had long assumed. It was hardly shocking. In a "gutsy" one on one interview with Bob Costas, he called it "foolish" and a "mistake" and that he "wished he had never touched steroids." He admitted that he had misled his wife, family, and friends as well as the public (and Congress, but then, everyone misleads them). He accepted that Roger Maris` record should be considered the genuine home run record and not his.

 Will this be enough to rehabilitate his honor? Get him into the Hall of Fame? Clear his name? Probably not. He still contended that his success was due to "God-given ability." Indeed, most of us could take steroids until we were blue in the face and never become a "Big Mac". Still, how much Big Mac was "God" and how much chemicals? We will never know for sure.

 Now, Mark is set to become batting coach of the Cardinals (many suggested his confession was designed to smooth the way for his new position) and Manager Tony LaRussa has even suggested that he might serve as a pinch-hitter later down the stretch of the season. How will fans react? If he and the Cardinals succeed, I have no doubt that he will be cheered and largely forgiven.

 Should he be? I am not a Supreme Being or Deity so I cannot say who should or should not be forgiven. Nor would I want to, if I could. Still, as a fellow fallible human, I can`t help but wish him well. And hope that he becomes another Michael Vick and not another Pete Rose. (I bet Tiger Woods is breathing just a bit easier since this has broken.)