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He called the widow of Roger Maris a few days ago, a surprisingly bold move that surely resulted in one of the most awkward phone conversations this side of Bobby Kennedy-George Wallace.
Mark McGwire apparently felt it was the right thing to do.
And, indeed, he was correct. Pat Maris deserved to hear the words "I juiced" straight from the artificially enhanced horse's mouth; deserved to know why she and her family had unwittingly served as his official cardboard props some 12 years ago; why her late husband's single-season home run mark (arguably the most hallowed standard in all of American sports) had been tattered by a man boasting all the integrity of a Times Square pickpocket.
Think back, if you will, to September 8, 1998, when McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd homer of the season at Busch Stadium, then immediately walked toward the stands to embrace the Maris children. Later, with tears streaming down his cheeks, McGwire told the media how, earlier that day, he had held the bat Roger Maris used when he set the old mark. "I touched it with my heart," he said. "When I did that, I knew tonight was going to be the night. I can say my bat will lie next to his, and I'm damn proud of it."
Special to CNN
Mark McGwire deserves a ban from baseball more than any sympathy.
It is sad to hear his quavery confession of a career filled with steroids, his sorrow over the pain it caused his family and fans, his revelation of a life of lies that burned inside him like a hidden disease and consumed the game he loved.
But for those of us who also love baseball, the damage he did was too deep and his further threat to the integrity of the game is too great to justify his return.
McGwire's entire playing career is indelibly stained and his judgment is not to be trusted. What else are we to make of a man who cheated and didn't come clean for 20 years? Can he be trusted to coach other players who may be using steroids? Is he fit for any job that is also a test of character and personal standards? Baseball should bar him from coaching and never again allow his name on a Hall of Fame ballot.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, McGwire's longtime apologist, is leading the charge to rehabilitate him in his new role as the Cardinals' batting coach, saying Monday's admission and expression of regret is worthy of respect.
Congressional hearings rarely produce much news of interest, or much good for the world, but the House Government Reform Committee did a great service to baseball - and the country - on March 17, 2005.
That was the day that several great stars of the recent era, including Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, were forced to answer questions about steroids.
McGuire hedged (he said he didn't want to talk about the past); Palmeiro may have lied (he later tested positive); and the usually talkative Sosa developed a sudden unfamiliarity with the English language (he testified in Spanish).
So let’s talk baseball, and not just the Mitchell report. Not just steroids. Not just the question of who is telling the truth, or who's not, or why.
I want to talk about one very small sliver of what's gone down on Capitol Hill: the autographs. ‘Cause when Roger Clemens showed up to answer to Congress, he was met by a long line of fans, asking him to sign baseballs, T-shirts, even napkins. But these weren’t just any fans. These were congressional staffers.
Now, I'm not saying Roger Clemens is guilty of anything. But I am saying that the people who are looking to answer that question ought to at least give an appearance of impartiality.
But, no. Instead they were like schoolchildren. But they’re not children. They’re our humble servants, paid with our tax dollars to get to the bottom of this.
They've violated our trust. That’s a swing and a miss for Congress. Let’s hope their game improves in the home stretch.
And that’s the Last Word.
– Jami Floyd, “In Session” Anchor/360° Contributor
It’s kind of like jury duty, only without the aggravation, idle time and annoying conversations with people you really don’t want to talk to (don’t get me started).
We’re choosing you to serve as jurors on our Roger Clemens trial. The instructions are simple enough: Who is telling the truth? Roger Clemens or his former trainer, Brian McNamee.
From my perspective, both appeared credible enough in front of the senate committee today. Both vigorously defended their claims, McNamee says he gave Clemens steroids, Clemens denies it.
But who do you believe? Before we our legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin, we want to know your opinion.
So let’s have it.
– Gabriel Falcon, 360° Writer
Roger Clemens is spinning himself a web of complications as he testifies before Congress about his alleged steroid use. He has said his former trainer is a liar when he says he injected Clemens more than 20 times with steroids and human growth hormones.
But here's what's also come out today. Clemens acknowledges McNamee's testimony that he injected Clemen's wife Debbie with HGH in 2003. But Clemens says his wife never told him, and that he was mad at McNamee when he found out.
But he did not fire McNamee, and also did not call a doctor when his wife complained of circulation problems. Clemens said they decided a doctor call wasn't necessary, but those suspicious of Clemens say the pitcher couldn't blow his cover since he too used such substances.
But perhaps most problematic for Clemens is one of his best friends Andy Pettite. The well liked Yankee pitcher has acknowledged that he was injected by McNamee with HGH and says Clemens discussed his own HGH use in 1999 or 2000. Clemens said during the hearing that Pettite "misheard" and "misremembered" the conversation.
The court of public opinion may or may not believe McNamee, but trying to cast Pettitte has someone who misunderstood such a conversation will be much harder for those loyal to Clemens. We'll have much more of this often riveting showdown on tonight's AC360°.
– Gary Tuchamn, 360° Correspondent
Roger Clemens is no stranger to showdowns. Every time he steps on the pitcher's mound, it's a showdown against the batter.
But today, Clemens is in a vastly different, incredibly risky showdown. He will sit near the man who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormones, and Clemens will declare under oath that it's all a lie.
His former trainer, Brian McNamee, will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he injected Clemens 16 times in 1998, 2000, and 2001 with steroids and Human Growth Hormone, or HGH.
At least one of these men must be an out-and-out liar, will likely perjure himself, and could end up in prison because of it.
Clemens was mentioned 82 times in former Senator George Mitchell's steroid report that came out of a two year investigation. If he is to come out on top, he will have to convince Congressmen that not only is his former trainer a liar, but that Senator Mitchell was gullible and sloppy in his report.
Clemens will also likely be contradicting testimony from former teammate and good friend Andy Pettitte, who has acknowledged being injected by McNamee.
Clemens faces an uphill battle, one that can't be won with a great fastball.
– Gary Tuchman, 360° Correspondent