2009 was a tough year to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Not so much from their record, since they won the division, but a couple small events that most have likely forgotten. Couple those things with off-season doings and the hat gets hung behind the door.
Lets skip back a few months. Watching Stan Musial at the All Star Game being treated like a piece of cardboard left out in the rain was pretty brutal. When asked for an opinion on the Manny Ramirez sex change debacle Albert Pujols offers up a non-answer worthy of Mark McGwire's congressional testimony. Enough together to raise the hairs on the back of my neck but still a drop of benefit of the doubt remained. However.
The return of Mark McGwire as hitting coach appears to be drawing rave reviews from the rest of the Cardinals faithful. Couple that with the soft comments of Pujols concernng McGwire's steroid use and what is left of my benefit of the doubt hit the ground running-right out the door. At what point do Cardinals fans start wondering if maybe something smells a little funny? You know, like tainted HGH must smell.
Okay, you're right, everyone does deserve a second chance. McGwire did finally come clean (no pun intended) but it has to seem pretty self-serving even to the most hardcore Cardinals fan. If he'd said years back 'yes, I took them while rehabbing some injuries' I'd be standing behind him...but he didn't. He stonewalled, changed the subject, left the room, did anything he could to avoid answering the question. Now that an opportunity to get back on the MLB money train has come his way he's gotten teary-eyed and remorseful. Nah, not buying it.
Does the return of Mark McGwire make me less of a baseball fan? That process had already begun as the players grew bigger while the ballparks became smaller. Even Freddie Patek would be a thirty-homer guy in the Safeway parking lot sized stadiums in use today. The McGwire comeback doesn't help though. Steroids have created an image problem for Major League Baseball that has grown as large and nearly as fast as some of the players. Ignoring it obviously hasn't worked. Acknowledging the problem and taking even baby steps to fix it would be a start toward bringing jaded fans like me back.
The few players who've expressed concerns about the MLB image give hope even considering the weak-kneed leadership of Commissioner Bud. Unfortunately, Selig, the greenback-driven owners, and the cavalier attitudes of guys like Albert Pujols will keep that Cardinals hat hanging behind the door.
One last thought: Whether you believe the Vikings were running up the score or not with that late touchdown pass against the Cowboys , considering the shot Kurt Warner took the day before what the heck was Brad Childress thinking even having Brett Favre in the game up 24 with two minutes to go?