Mark McGwire, the new hitting coach for the Dodgers, did not want to speak about the performance enhancing drug debate or Hall of Fame results during the Dodgers winter development camp in Arizona this past week. Even when media members insisted on asking him about the steroid era and its effect on the Hall of Fame voting, McGwire became annoyed and changed the subject to the important matter at hand: the Dodgers offense in 2013. McGwire wants to focus on his new job, and that is to work with the Dodger players on their hitting. He seems very focused on the task, and he is incredibly happy to be working back in Los Angeles near where his family resides in Orange County.
McGwire wasn’t surprised after he failed to collect the necessary votes in order to make it into Cooperstown for the seventh time.
"“I’m not going to fight it. I have total respect for the Hall of Fame and what they live by. They have their guidelines. That’s the way it’s going to be and we have to accept it.”"
Naysayers were proven wrong, and McGwire turned out to be a good hitting coach. Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
McGwire has tried to rebrand himself after his admission of using PEDs throughout his career tainted his reputation. He retired from baseball after the 2001 season, and then he came back to join the St. Louis Cardinals as their hitting coach after the 2009 season where he found success as a coach. During his three seasons as coach, the Cards’ offense was one of the best in the league. The Red Birds led the league in hitting (.269), on-base percentage (.337), and were second in runs (2,263) during those three seasons with Big Mac as their hitting coach. McGwire was instrumental in the development of young players like Matt Carpenter, David Freese, and Allen Craig. When asked about specific players like Matt Kemp for example, McGwire said that he will need to work with Kemp and the other players this Spring before he can assess their coaching needs.
Even if you are one to discredit those who were part of the so-called steroid era, there is no argument against the fact that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and company helped revitalize the game after the strike. Whether they should be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a very polarizing debate, but right now I’m more concerned with the Dodgers’ run forecast in 2013 than what happened back in the 90s.
March 17, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals batting coach Mark McGwire (25) watches batting practice before a spring training game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Mark McGwire could be an integral part of this team next season and beyond. His coaching methods which I believe have a psychological aspect to them, could very well help to gel this group of players into a cohesive successful offensive unit. We all have had good and bad teachers throughout our lives, and sometimes there are those great ones which impact our life. Coaches and managers influence the game and players as well. McGwire has the opportunity to not only work with Matt Kemp but also a young up and coming catcher like Tim Federowicz, and perhaps he can even help Andre Ethier when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching.
I may not vote for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame, but I definitely endorse him as the Dodgers hitting coach for 2013.