Big Mac, Big Mistake

So the last time we saw Mark McGwire he was giving the worst possible answer to questions from Congress about steroids. And then he vanished without a trace, and the location of his supporters and defenders shrank to one area code in Missouri, and every day somebody hoped he’d figure it out: his reputation was shot anyway, he wasn’t going to the Hall of Fame, he had been given by fate a license to tell kids not to get involved with performance-enhancers and thus redeem much of his own unacceptable but easily forgiven perfidy.

Instead, crickets.
In March, that ludicrous “I’m not hear to talk about the past” announcement will have been five years ago. And now we are informed that McGwire, who never had a reputation as much of a student of the game (although he was secretly tutoring several Cardinals including Skip Schumaker and Matt Holliday, and they swear by him), and who never addressed his past, will suddenly emerge from nowhere to coach the Cards’ hitters next season. 
Just a guess here, but he might get a question about PED’s from the media, and he might get an occasional taunt from the fans. Look, this isn’t going to be 1998 in terms of reportorial attention, and it’s not like hitting coaches run out to the plate as pitching coaches do to the mound so the booing will probably be at a minimum. But who thought this was a good idea, or one that won’t be mocked, debated, and questioned in every city except St. Louis? If Tony LaRussa feels the 2010 Cardinals will need a distraction from questions about their pitching, hitting, fielding, and team chemistry – he just provided it.
I congratulate the National League Champion Phillies who made it to the World Series without my help (snark) for the first time ever. There go any free tickets I might have gotten in the next few years. I’ll live.
I suspect the Yankees will win the Series in six, possibly five. I would expect the Phillies to pound A.J. Burnett mercilessly in Game Two but otherwise be largely thwarted by the Sabathia/Pettitte combo. A monster Series out of Dennis Werth, himself the stepson of a long-ago Yankee, would be the key to an upset.


  1. jimmyjarhead

    I am as flabbergasted as you are. I think this is a bad idea on all levels. First of all, He was always what I like to call an “all or nothing” hitter. Home run or strikeout is the norm for these kinds of players. I know that hitting a home run is instant offense, but a strikeout, especially with RISP is the worst type of a bad out. Maybe he can teach hitting, but his approach won’t work in the post PEDS era.
    Then there are the ramifications of his flaccid denials of his less than alleged steroid use. I thought the andro defense was always weak, and his time in front of Congress was disgusting.
    I am still willing to give him and the Cardinal organization the benefit of the doubt. I wonder though, will Bonds, Sosa, heck maybe even Bret Boone be back in MLB dugouts as hitting coaches any time soon??


    I’ve always had this theory about St. Louis sports teams. The NFL Cardinals were losers there, the Rams are losers there…it seems to be a place where really bad decisions are made. This latest “WTF moment” appears to be maintaining the tradition.

    I had a good laugh tonight watching Countdown, as you reiterated your point about Ryan Howard, and cited statistics to back it up. Was that perhaps a little good-natured ribbing aimed at those who posted theories here, that you were obsessing about him? 🙂

    Ah, the Phillies. Sucks that your absence wasn’t enough to keep them out of the WS, but I’ll be just as happy if your prediction comes to pass, and the Yankees win. I hope that you’re joking about the tickets. If anybody would really withhold free tickets over a “prediction” based upon a series of silly coincidences, they need to get a sense of humor. LOL!


    Spud Murray, whose 81st birthday is tomorrow (the 28th), played in the Phillies College League before being hired by Casey Stengel in 1960 as Yankee No. 55, the batting practice pitcher through 1968. It might be interesting to hear his opinion about this Series.


    How is it an honest mistake to refer to Jayson Werth (36 HR, 99 RBI, All-Star, and potential GG winner this year) as “Dennis Werth,” (a guy who played 117 games over 4 seasons three decades ago)?


    He meant to type Jason, but b/c he was thinking about Dennis, he typed Dennis. That’s an honest mistake I think.

  6. historymike

    For heaven’s sake, it was a mistake. Get over it.

    The bigger mistake is if the Cardinals think that McGwire’s mere presence will rehabilitate him. He will have to address questions or sink deeper into the muck. I wonder how much of this decision to bring in McGwire has to do with Tony LaRussa’s hubris, his seeming belief that he is the punch line to the old story about the Dodgers, when they were losing and Charlie Dressen, their manager, said, “Don’t worry, guys, I’ll think of something.”


    Well Keith I’m Big Fan of yours but here we have a parting on the Ways. You can go ahead and cheer for the Yankees but don’t you “Dare” Trash talk about Ryan Howard’s record!!
    Howard, Utley, Werth, Rollins, Victorino, Ruiz, Lee, Hamel, etc. All of ’em are good and deserve Respect!!

    You were So way off base on this the other night, I turned you off for the First Time.

    The difference between us is that Phillies Fans Love the game and will be there supporting the Home team Win or Lose!
    May the Best Team Win and we think that’s the Phillies!
    If they weren’t playing I’d be cheering for NY but after hearing all this #$@%$ I’ve been hearing from them I may never route for the Yankees again either!!
    The Phillies have a definite shot at winning and I can’t Wait to see the Egg on your Face when that happens!!!

  8. cardsrul52

    This is the first time, in my recollection, that the hiring of a hitting coach has created such a furor. Time to descend from your ivory towers of purity, people, and accept the fact that this has happened, and will most likely happen again somewhere down the road. Is it a bad idea? Possibly, but just like those lovable buffoons, Man-Ram, A-Rod, and yes, that good old boy, Andy Pettitte, isn’t he allowed a second chance? Or is your faux outrage at such a level that you just cannot comprehend the notion?
    Every one of you who are fans of the Yankees(hi, Keith!), Red Sox, Dodgers, Astros, and Giants, for example, should check your own baggage before passing judgment on this situation. I know that’s hard for you Keith; lord knows I’ve seen enough of your “special commemtaries” to realize that.
    Yes, I’m a Cardinals fan, and yes, I have taken my licks and heard the pot-shots and complete derision of the team and the people who run it. And guess what; I’m still here. Hit me with your best shot, folks.

  9. roronj

    Keith, I love your show, your courage in taking on the big issues … but not with you on the Series. The Phillies already “solved” Sabathia …last year, when Shane Victorino took him deep ..oh, yeah, with the bases loaded. Phillies in 5 or 6.

  10. OokerDookers

    Keith, seriously, first time ever the Phillies win the NL without your help? C’mon, 1950 and 1915. Within your lifetime, yeah I get it, but not ever.


    @art4wear, citing Ryan Howard’s statistics isn’t “trash talking”, it’s just presenting the facts. Phillies fans aren’t the only ones who “love the game”. EVERY team’s fans are passionate about baseball, or any other sport, for that matter. And every team’s fans root for them, “win or lose”. Implying that Keith (supposedly, unlike Phillies fans) doesn’t “love the game” as much as you folks do is patently absurd. The man is a walking baseball encyclopedia, a noted expert on everything from statistics to baseball cards from the 1800’s – disagree with him if you will, but claiming that he doesn’t love the game as much as all you non-experts severely undermines your own credibility, I’m sorry to say. No need to get all bent out of shape, just because somebody’s interpretation of the statistics doesn’t jibe with yours. 🙂

    @cardsrul52, this is a baseball blog. You’re not supposed to be dragging politics into this, which is precisely what you did with that potshot about the Special Comments. Getting back to baseball, this blog entry was about 1) how Mark McGwire failed to redeem himself by not speaking out against PED’s, and 2) the fact that he MIGHT not be qualified to be a batting coach. This is why McGwire is controversial, not JUST because he used PED’s. May I suggest you take a course in remedial reading, before you attack someone over what you misunderstood?

    @OokerDookers, if you look at the original blog entry Keith wrote a while ago, he did say he was talking about the Phillies’ WS appearances during his lifetime. In this blog entry, the use of the word “snark” makes it pretty clear that his statement was a joke. 😉

    In short, calm down, people. If I were to freak out and run shrieking around the block every time a sports analyst predicted that my favorite team was going to lose, I’d have to sleep in a track suit and running shoes. If Keith had said something like, “The Phillies suck,” you’d have every right to object. But a mere prediction is nothing to get so bent out of shape about. Please, cut back on the caffeine, folks!


    Hey Keith,

    Interesting predictions. 🙂 I remember your Superbowl prediction some time back that was eerily accurate. Can’t wait to see how the World Series plays out.

    One more time… hope you don’t mind. Just wondering how your father is doing… any chance you could update us? Yeah, I’m a pain in the neck, but I really do care. Thanks!!

  13. mantlewasarockstar

    As you can easily surmise by my nickname I’m a Yankee fan…and I agree w/you. I’m also disappointed in players that have decided to take the steroids route, including faves of mine. However, KO and others like him make a valid point when stating a lack of clarity and admission on Big Mac’s part. Having said that, I was so appalled by the petty and hypocritical way that the vast majority of the baseball press conducted themselves during the A-Rod PED scandal that I have come to believe that Manny Ramirez’s non-chalant, disrespectful brushoff, when confronted over his steroid use, was what these hacks deserved. In conclusion, what I’m saying is, let Big Mac come back and do his thing. If he or the STL organization chooses to address his PED situation, fine. If not, fine w/me, too. Let the irresponsible and trifling scribes harp on that and not on Mac’s performance in his new gig. Good luck to your team in 2010.


    Statistics are things that happened in the past and may or may not predict future performance. I look at the stats Keith quoted for Ryan Howard and I say, well, he is due. Go Phils!


    Keith, in the future it would be great if you would not combine two separate topics in one blog.

    RE: McGuire, there are two major points to be made here. First it has been well substantiated that be a great hitter has practically nothing to do with being a great hitting coach.

    Second, McGwire had great success with steroids. If he has kept up in this area he can make a “contribution” to the future players by helping them out with how much, when and how to use steroids etc. This is where his expertise lies, not in the mechanics or training to improve hitting.

    Until MLB makes a concentrated effort to rid itself of drugs they will continue to use past “experts” to get more home run hitters, not just better hitters.


    Well take all the statistics and throw them out the Window! That’s just how much the mean! Nothing!
    Man is a truly Unpredictable Animal
    The Phillies win Game 1! How ya like me now!!!
    Go Phillies!!!


    I would like to thank you Keith, I do believe you contributed to the Phillies win tonight by calling out Ryan Howard.

    Statistics are a GREAT measure of the past.
    But every at bat is a new one.


    WINNING IN 6 my friend.


    I have never forgiven LaRussa and McGwire for Mac’s sitting out the final week of the season years back here in Oakland so he wouldn’t fall below .200 for the season. Did a lot of yelling about it with my dad at the time – we invoked Ted Williams frequently – and we’re still ********** about it! So Mac’s becoming the hitting coach has brought a whole new theme to this old lament.

    I just want to know if he’ll be providing the andro or not…

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