Even Mark McGwire himself knew that the general public already assumed he was a steroid user, something that has followed him around since his appearance in a hearing before a House Government Reform Committee in 2005, where he famously said, "I'm not here to talk about the past." But apparently, he's ready to talk about it all now.
In a longer, more detailed report from the AP, McGwire opens up about his steroid use (which, by the way, he takes zero responsibility for, and instead blames it on "the steroid era"). His decision to come clean now was a result of his new position of hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. It's all a wide-sweeping effort to save his image (presumably for a chance at the Hall of Fame).
"I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come," McGwire said. "It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected." [...]
"I'm sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids," McGwire said. "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." [...]
"After all this time, I want to come clean," he said. "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." [...]
"I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again," McGwire said in his statement. "I used them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season." [...]
"During the mid-'90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years," McGwire said in the statement. "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."
He added, "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."
Is there any surprise to his admission? Any at all? Remember, this is a guy who fully admitted to taking androstenedione in 1998, which was legal at the time (though banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC), but has since been classified as a anabolic steroid. McGwire has also been named a steroid user in two books: Jose Canseco's "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big" (claimed McGwire had been using since the 1980s), and his own brother's "The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth about Steroids, a Slugger and Ultimate Redemption."
It all seems like a desperate player making a final, desperate attempt to earn back the public's favorable opinion -- or at least, in this case, their forgiveness. The Mark McGwire PR-train will continue Monday evening, when he sits down the Bob Costas for an interview at 7:00 p.m. ET on the MLB Network.