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Speaking out: Why is anyone still cheering for Mark McGwire?

January 18, 2010 |  9:34 am

It appears there's at least one group of supposed baseball fans who are willing to give Mark McGwire a standing ovation.

McGwire made his first public appearance at a St. Louis Cardinals promotional event Sunday to the delight of cheering fans who didn't seem to mind the 12-time All-Star cheated during his career.

Once the roar of the crowd subsided, McGwire decided to take an obligatory swing at the beach ball in the room.

"I've learned a lot," McGwire said. "Especially to the kids out there, steroids are bad. I made a huge mistake in my life, and it's something I want you guys to learn from. Don't ever, ever go down that road."

Although it's difficult to gauge McGwire's sincerity now that he's admitted to steroid use nearly a decade after his career, it's even more difficult to understand why anyone would still be cheering for him following his back-against-the-wall confession. You don't have to hate the guy, but why is he still revered?

Former Cardinals slugger Jack Clark was booed during the event following a report that he described McGwire as a "phony." That's some pretty tame language considering the damage baseball has sustained due to McGwire and his steroid-era buddies (Clark also has expressed some stronger opinions). Assuming he was clean throughout his career, Clark has reason to be mad, and fans shouldn't see him as someone who is bashing their team.

Team loyalties are a part of every sport, but there needs to be a point when a hometown hero needs to be stripped of his cape.

With his playing career tarnished, McGwire needs to build a new legacy for himself. Perhaps he can create a new life in baseball through the coaching and managerial ranks.

But until McGwire actually does something that isn't directly related to his playing days, I hope we never see anyone cheering for him like that again.

-- Austin Knoblauch