I have heard too many nice things about McGwire …

McGwire.jpg   I just about gagged the other day to read that Mark McGwire’s brother is apparently trying to peddle a book essentially tossing his big brother under the steroid bus, assuming that you haven’t already conceded the former slugger wasn’t already road kill in terms of his MLB legacy.

   I was mostly struck by the unseemliness of a family member coming forth with such a revelation even if, according to Jay McGwire as reported in www.deadspin.com. “My bringing the truth to surface about Mark is out of love,” adding some more blather about wanting his brother to live in truth, see the light and come to repentance.

   (“Sammy and Mac” by Bil Purdom; www.goodsportsart.com, is shown above right).

   My informal rule of thumb on these kinds of things starts with a question that essentially asks, “Would anyone at all give a rat’s ass what you have to say if your (insert family member’s designation here) hadn’t achieved a certain degree of fame in whatever undertaking we might be talking about here?” Assuming the answer is no, which one supposes is the case here, it’s hard to put too much stock in what is being offered.

   Besides, I know a lot of people in our hobby who have dealt with Mark McGwire over the years – before the steroid flap emerged full flower – and they almost uniformly say nice things about him. That may not sound like a very scientific way of going about this debate, but I put a lot of stock in what people who have actually known the athlete in question say, rather than buying into conventional wisdom.

   Sadly, I don’t think it makes much of a difference in McGwire’s situation. I’m not even talking about his HOF chances, which at the moment seem pretty remote. And I don’t believe the younger brother’s observation that he doesn’t believe missing the Hall of Fame will affect (Mark).
One of the reasons I like Mark McGwire was his obvious reverence for baseball history as illustrated by how he dealt with the Maris family in that historic 1998 season. I bet it bothers him big time that his standing in baseball history seems destined to be so much different now than it appeared to be when he retired.

   But addressing the broader question of the family dispute, it’s hard for me to imagine something sadder than having such a rift within your immediate family, famous or otherwise. In an increasingly polarized and isolated world, few things seem more lamentable than not be able to claim the refuge of family at those dark moments that we all eventually confront.


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