McGwire returns; allegations and criticism to follow

Posted: October 27, 2009 in Baseball, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Mark McGwireST. LOUIS — So the season is over and changes were expected in the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse, but things look oddly familiar.

Tony La Russa is still the manager, Dave Duncan is back for another season to continue his mission of turning around the careers of pitching has-beens. And Mark McGwire is wearing a Cardinals uniform.

No, it’s not 2001. But stories from nearly a decade ago are likely to resurface throughout this offseason and into the 2010 campaign.

Hal McRae is out as St. Louis’ hitting coach, and general manager John Mozeliak and principal owner, Bill DeWitt Jr. have brought the former Cardinals slugger back to coach up the hitting abilities of the current Redbirds.

McGwire has taken a lot of flak for going into hiding after the congressional hearings that accused him and others of abusing performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire denied all claims and infamously repeated the line, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

Now that he is back in the spotlight, he might have little choice. McGwire is expected to speak soon via conference call and will then take questions from reporters.

Just curious — has a line been set on the over/under of questions that will refer to PED’s? Maybe answering questions over the phone will be a little easier to handle, but there is little reason to think it will keep reporters from asking the questions. And what will his response be?

By midseason, all of the hype around McGwire’s troubled history might have passed by. But there might be other problems. There’s no question that he made his mark in Major League Baseball by hitting home runs and at one time, setting the single-season record that has since been broken.

But remember that high-priced outfielder Mozeliak lured away from Oakland? Matt Holliday came into his own and eventually broke out of his slump that had A’s fans frustrated, and he did it right before he arrived in St. Louis.

And his solution didn’t come until he broke the bad habits taught to him during the previous offseason and went back to what had made him so successful.

Whoever told him to get rid of that high leg kick that produced so many home runs and base hits should never be allowed set foot in a major league clubhouse. He must have no clue what he is talking about. The problem is, McGwire is the one that messed up the St. Louis Savior’s swing.

And now he will be working with the entire Cardinals’ roster, ideally to improve their swings.

It’s true, McGwire worked with Skip Schumaker to improve his hitting performance and he did, in fact, have a decent season. Maybe he can work wonders and help the rest of the Cardinals improve as well.

True Cardinals fans will likely welcome the former home-run king back to Busch Stadium with open arms. Once he arrives, the PED allegations won’t matter and the only things that will be remembered are the good times and winning moments. The most overplayed video clip at the beginning of next season will probably be that of McGwire’s record-setting home run and the high-fives exchanged between he and Sammy Sosa after he rounded the bases.

Regardless of the media bashing that will likely take place, the red-headed Redbird will always have a place in the heart of St. Louisans.

Let’s just hope he stays away from Mr. Pujols.

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