In March of 2005, Mark McGwire appeared alongside other pro baseball players in front of Congress to talk about steroids. It couldn't have gone any worse for McGwire -- he stammered, he hedged, and worst of all, when asked about his own steroid use, he simply said he "wasn't here to talk about the past." It was a disatrous PR choice, and since then, whatever doubt fans had about McGwire's suspected steroid use has pretty much vanished.
Since then, McGwire has been a ghost, receding to his mansion in California and avoiding all public contact, including interviews with the media. Until, apparently, today, when McGwire called the New York Times in response to an interview request about McGwire's new hobby: baseball instruction
Yes, apparently McGwire has been lending his time and expertise to Major League teams looking to improve some of their hitters' swings. Isn't that nice? Now about that whole steroids thing ...
In this instance, McGwire agreed to an interview with the understanding that it would focus on his work as a hitting tutor, and not on other issues. But at one point, McGwire did address the criticism he has received for being linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’m such an easygoing guy,” he said. “I don’t need to sweep away any bitterness.” His foray into tutoring, he said, is not about what it can do for him, but what he has to offer. “I believe I have so much knowledge to give and help people improve as baseball players,” he said.
Apparently we're still not talking about the past. Cute, but at some point McGwire is going to need to address the reasons his media appearances are so rare anyway: the suspicions of steroid use and its role in his record-breaking 1998 season. That season saved baseball from its post-strike malaise and made its owners incredibly rich. What role did steroids play in that growth?
It sure would be nice to talk about that stuff. You know, "the past." But we're not holding our breath.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who would like Mark to explain his facial hair choices, too. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.