Credit Mark McGwire with not shying away from the best sports interviewer in the business, MLB Network's Bob Costas, for his first TV sitdown.
Costas did his usual solid job over an hour, though he admittedly jumped around from subject to subject and back again at times.
The only significant quibble I had was that he did not press for a couple of clarifications:
McGwire insisted he only took steroids for health reasons, not performance reasons, and that they played no part in his statistical achievements.
But even if all they did was help him stay and/or get he healthy, didn't that contribute to his stats?
Also, if he did not consider steroids cheating to gain a performance edge, what exactly is it about his steroid use that he regrets, other than the effect on his reputation?
Excerpts from the interview, as sent by MLB Network:
ON WHEN EXACTLY HE USED STEROIDS:
“I believe it was the winter of 1989 into 1990. I was given a couple of week’s worth, tried it, never thought anything of it. I just moved on from it. But as far as using it on a consistent basis, it was the winter of 1993 into 1994.”
ON WHETHER HE THINKS HE WOULD STILL HAVE PERFORMED AS WELL WITHOUT STEROIDS:
“I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes… I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There’s not a pill or an injection that is going to give me -- or any athlete -- the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball.”
ON EXACTLY WHAT PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS HE TOOK:
“The names I don’t remember. But I did injectables. I preferred the orals. The steroids I did were on a very low dosage. I didn’t want to take a lot of it. I took very, very low dosages, just because I wanted my body to feel normal. The wear and tear of 162 ballgames and the status of where I was at, and the pressures that I had to perform, and what I had to go through to try and get through all these injuries, it’s a very, very regrettable thing.”
ON REGRETTING HIS STEROID USE:
“I wish it never came into my life. But we’re sitting here talking about it. I’m so sorry that I have to. I apologize to everybody at Major League Baseball, my family, the Marises, Bud Selig… Today was the hardest day of my life.”
ON CALLING ROGER MARIS’ WIDOW THIS MORNING:
“Well, I think she was shocked that I called her. I felt good…I felt that it was…that I needed to do that. They’ve been great supporters of mine. She was disappointed. She has every right to be. And I couldn’t tell her how so sorry I was.”
ON THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE 2005 CONGRESSIONAL HEARING:
“So, 2005…Flying back there…I was ready, willing, and prepared to talk about this. I wanted to talk about this. I wanted to get this off my chest… My lawyers, Mark Bierbower and Marty Steinberg -- I meet them back there. We talked about the situation. Marty, a former federal prosecutor, laid out a couple of scenarios. ‘If you go out there, and talk about this without protection, there’s a very good chance of a possible prosecution, or grand jury testimonies.’ So, we talk to – we were in meetings downstairs with Congressman Waxman, and… Congressman Davis… my lawyers were downstairs trying to get immunity for me. I wanted to talk. I kept telling myself, ‘I want to get this off my chest.’ Well, we didn’t get immunity. So here I am in a situation where I have two scenarios, where a possible prosecution or possible grand jury testimonies. Well you know what happens when there’s a prosecution? You bring in your whole family, you bring in your whole friends, you bring in ex-teammates, coaches, anybody that’s surrounding you. How the heck am I gonna to bring those people in for some stupid act that I did? So you know what I did? We agreed to not talk about the past. And it was not enjoyable to do that, Bob.
ON HIS TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS IN 2005:
“I’m gonna tell you right now, standing up there – or sitting up there, listening, the Hooten family or the other families behind me that lost their loved ones… And every time that I kept on saying “I’m not talking about the past,” I hear these moans. It was killing me. I was not gonna lie. I was not going to lie. I wanted to tell the truth, but because of the position I was in; to protect my family, to protect me, I decided that I would take the hits. I think anybody’s going to take the hits. I’ve been taking hits for five years…doesn’t feel very good.”
ON THE HALL OF FAME:
“I’m not here doing this for the Hall of Fame. I’m doing this for me, to get this off my chest. I played this game of baseball because I was given the ability to play. If I’m lucky enough to get in there, that’s just icing on the cake. But I played this game because I loved it.”
ON WHAT HE’D TELL CARDINALS PLAYERS ABOUT STEROIDS:
“It was the stupidest thing I ever did. There’s no reason to even go down that road. It’s an illusion. And look what I have to do. I‘m sitting here by a stupid mistake.”
ON POTENTIALLY BEING FORGIVEN BY FANS AND OTHERS:
“Well, I’m asking for a second chance. I hope they give it to me. Because you know, I have a lot to offer. I have a whole rolodex of things that I love to teach hitters, and I can’t wait to get to spring training. I can’t wait to teach, and it’s just, it’s always been a passion of mine so it just came to a head this last October when Tony sent me a text to see if I’d consider being a hitting coach.”