So Mark McGwire’s going to coach the Cardinals’ hitters next year, and good for them. The dude could hit.
Good for him, too. For some reason, McGwire feels like the most tragic of the outed performance-enhancers, maybe because he managed — or at least tried — to maintain his dignity throughout everything.
Anyway, I bring it up because it allows me to rehash what I’ve always considered an interesting topic of baseball discussion, and one I’ve written about before. In 1998, after watching McGwire hit two home runs in a double-header at Shea, my friend Eric and I were chilling on his back porch discussing McGwire’s awesomeness.
We agreed that he was the best hitter imaginable, but I argued that his talents were mitigated at least a bit by the fact that he couldn’t even capably defend first base, at least not to the eye.
From there, we speculated on how a team would fare if you could somehow clone Mark McGwire and field an entire team of Mark McGwires. Would nine Mark McGwires score enough runs on offense to compensate for their awful defense and pitching?
It’s an interesting question, but one that can’t be answered. It does, in retrospect, seem oddly foreboding of the more recent sabermetric trend toward trying to better evaluate defense.
As the conversation progressed, I pointed out that if you could clone Mark McGwire, why stop at nine? Why not fill the stadium with Mark McGwires, or create a whole damn army of Mark McGwires, stomping into battle, bats on shoulders, chanting “McGwire!”?
That’d be badass, you must admit. The dude was pretty intimidating in his heyday.