Big Mac should end his baseball exile by saying he's sorry

Santa Rosa doctor Gary Furness came up with this suggestion. Mark McGwire should publicly admit he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Let me slow down. McGwire should admit he used performance-enhancing drugs if he, in fact, used them. But, come on, just about everyone thinks he did. I?d be shocked if he didn?t.

Now we get to Furness? point, one I consider brilliant. As you know, Major League Baseball and the players? union recently agreed on amnesty for all players named in the Mitchell Report, which means no players named in the report will get punished although they?ll have to do community service. That deal seems fair all around and it potentially gets McGwire off the hook.

The last time we saw McGwire he was cowering before a congressional committee. ?Cowering? is a hard word to use, but it?s true ? the great home-run hitter cowered. Watching him that day, watching him refuse to answer questions, you thought he might dive under the table, or start to weep, or run out of the room shrieking. The scene left an indelible impression, and people lost respect for Mc-Gwire and he?s become sort of a recluse since then. That?s sad.

It?s sad because he was one of many drug users. But he is suffering more than others, although he was not the only sinner, and I use the word sinner fully knowing the implications. He is certainly a better guy than Jose Canseco, who not only was a user, but has become a big-time snitch. None of that has slowed down Canseco. Every time you turn on a television you see him ? he looks like a Vegas lounge lizard ? ruining another reputation.

McGwire?s story is sad because he always was a good guy and, when he played, he was a standup guy. You could approach him in the clubhouse. He was polite. He may have had a superstar?s ego but he acted normal, made sure you were comfortable. He was what you wanted a famous athlete to be.

It would be nice to have Mc-Gwire back. If he confesses ? or whatever you want to call it ? he can return. Baseball is giving him the chance.

He has nothing to lose, faces no negative consequences. Barry Bonds holds the single-season home-run record, so no one can take that away from McGwire. No one will talk about asterisks or anything like that. McGwire?s 70 homers has become one heck of an achievement, but it is not THE achievement. The pressure is off McGwire.

And then there?s the Hall of Fame, a serious, complicated issue. Twice McGwire has been on the Hall of Fame ballot and twice voters hammered him, didn?t allow him anywhere near the hall. There are reasons, some of them not related to drugs.

Some voters don?t think he was good enough, drugs or no drugs, and this is a fair and defensible position. Some perceive him as a one-dimensional player with great power numbers, but not enough of other things.

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