So he's finally admitted what has been long suspected: Mark McGwire, the hulking slugger who initially broke Roger Maris's single-season home run record in 1998, was using steroids. So how to react to the news?
- As a practical matter, it's perfectly understandable why a ballplayer would have used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. The benefits were obvious and the downside wasn't as obvious, especially at the time. There are always Faustian bargains available and, human nature being what it is, always takers.
- If you watch old video of baseball games played in the 1970s and 1980s, the difference in body types is striking. I grew up a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and they had hulking sluggers galore in that era, except that they weren't especially hulking. Other than Gorman Thomas, the rest of the key guys on that team weren't especially big. One of the best hitters was a skinny outfielder named Ben Oglivie, who probably weighed about 165-170. These days the scrawniest utility infielders are larger than that.
- One of the arguments that McGwire apparently has made is that he regrets playing in the "Steroid Era." It's also the lamest argument he makes. While we don't have a lot of control over the world we live in, we all have free will. McGwire saw the money and the fame that was available and decided that he wanted it. There were plenty of other players who saw the same thing and resisted it.