After serving as the hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers in recent years, it appears that former home run king Mark McGwire will take a step up, becoming the bench coach for the San Diego Padres next year.
Last season, now-Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts held that role with the Friars, so the two will be flip-flopping organizations for the 2016 campaign. But that’s not why this matters. The move signifies a changing mindset in baseball regarding players implicated in Steroid Era scandals.
McGwire, who captured the attention of the world in 1998’s famous Home Run Chase, is the first player linked to PEDs to reach such an elevated stature with a big league team after his playing days and, with the Hall of Fame voting results forthcoming after the first of the year, it begs an important question:
Are we getting closer to seeing these players push toward the Hall of Fame?
The PED Era remains a dark chapter in the storied history of America’s Pastime, but, as they say, time heals all wounds. As someone who fell in love with the game during this time as a kid and a teenager, I can’t sit idly by and advocate for erasing a two-decade stretch of our game just to avoid potentially having Hall of Fame players stuck on the outside looking in.
And they were still the best at what they did – end of story.
It’s hard to appreciate the Hall of Fame, which is supposedly dedicated to the best talents to ever put on a big league uniform, if you completely write off dozens of players, some of whom aren’t implicitly tied to PED usage. So much of the suspicion surrounding this time is linked to hear-say, but in the eye of the baseball world, it’s stone-cold evidence.
McGwire is about to take another step toward becoming a big-league manager as he assumes the role of bench coach in San Diego. Let’s hope this marks at least a small step forward for the game, which, to this point, has blacklisted too many players thanks to a crippling fear left in the wake of the Steroid Era.