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Guess Who's Coming to Town

by: Brian F. Logush

Prepare yourselves for the chaos that will take place in four month's time. When the Cardinals arrive in Jupiter, there will be the scent of anticipation in the air, waiting, just waiting, for the 2010 season to start. Maybe you'll see Jamie Garcia work his way into the starting rotation. And, depending on your own frame of mind, watch with cockiness as Matt Holliday steps into the batting cage after Albert Pujols.

But there will be something else in the Sunshine State. Never before will all the focus, scrutiny, and opinions be on something taking place off the diamond. A dark, ominous cloud is headed towards Jupiter, ready to hover over Roger Dean Stadium, bringing distraction and polarization along for the ride. Be warned, for Mark McGwire is an official part of the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in eight years.

The man who helped save baseball in 1998 is now one of the most controversial baseball figures in the sport's history. People either love him or hate him. There are those that will defend him forever. He never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was always there to greet his son Matt after every home run. He was a Cardinal, and the unofficial rule is 'once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.'

And then there are the anti-McGwires. People who harp on his bad attitude in the clubhouse. Cry how he never admitted to taking steroids, even though it is painfully obvious he was juiced. Scream about his botched testimony before Congress. Moan about why a section of I-70 is still named after him.

Look, I have no personal agenda towards the man. He never did anything to hurt me personally. Am I disappointed in him after his hearing in 2005? Absolutely. It was like when your parents asked you if you broke the window. You know the answer. Your parents know. Hell, the dog knows. But you don't answer because you don't want to get in trouble. Just say so and get it over with. The immediate punishment is bad, but denying only makes it worse.

The best thing for McGwire to do is to be upfront. And the sooner he does it, the better off this organization will be. If I was John Mozeilak, I would call a press conference in the depths of Busch Stadium one week after the World Series is decided. Let the Phillies or Yankees get their moment in the sun. Then, have McGwire speak for around twenty minutes about the dangers of steroids, what he did as a player, and why he acted like he did in front of Congress four and a half years ago. As soon as this happens, Cardinal Nation can go right along with their lives and mark the days until Winter Warm-Up.

But what happens if Mozeilak takes no action? McGwire isn't seen until spring training, and has to face the barrage of media, asking him questions that he has no inkling of answering. For the entire month of March, McGwire remains stagnant in not talking about the past. And just like that, the focus is taken off the men who play the game they love. Sure, people will gawk at Albert's monstrous home runs. Carpenter and Wainwright will talk to each other about the mechanics that have made them who they are. Rasmus will get more than his fair share of admirers. But the real story is the return of the disgraced "savior". And that isn't baseball.

McGwire can save the 2010 season by stepping up to the plate. It is up to him, and him alone, to determine whether that cloud on the move becomes a full-fledged hurricane, or just a spot shower that leaves no lasting damage.



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Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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