Commentary: Mark McGwire's convenient confession

The Miami HeraldJanuary 12, 2010 

Confession is good. It is good for the soul. It is good for future book sales. It is good for any number of things. It is good for helping alleviate the distraction if, just to use a totally random example, you are about to start your new job as, say, hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Confession is good even when it is thoroughly self-serving, as it was Monday for Mark McGwire, who probably would remain in self-exile and "not here to talk about the past" if loyal Cards manager Tony LaRussa hadn't hauled him out of purgatory.

Heck, confession might even be good for a man's Hall of Fame chances. Who knows? When one has been made to sit in the corner with barely one-third the needed votes for four straight years, why not roll dice that the truth might woo a voter or three?

Confession can do all of that.

Now here is what confession does not do:

It does not change the past, undo damage, erase sins or allow you to pretend the meager bit of integrity you can now claim is retroactive.

All the much-belated truth does for Mark McGwire is make him a former liar, not a current one.

The admission that he used steroids and human growth hormone for many years -- including in 1998 when he charmed America with a record-setting 70 home runs -- hardly is a stunning revelation, since everyone had come to assume it.

The truth, a convenient decade-plus too late and five years after he infamously stonewalled at that Congressional hearing, does not remove any of the taint from his career's résumé or from baseball's hallowed record book.

McGwire puts the first syllable in asterisk, and that disclaimer (*) must now attach itself to the player's artificially enhanced accomplishments -- to an entire career that can only be seen as fraudulent to at least a significant degree.

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