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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

Second Chance McGwire


By Fred Wallace


You know the World Series is close when baseball teams make prominent announcements.

New Managers, new executives, new suits here, there and everywhere giving the illusion or impression that the team in question is making every effort to get where the Yankees and Phillies will be tomorrow.

Fair enough.

Among the most notable names and stories to surface is the return of Tony La Russa to the baseball Mecca of St Louis for a 15th season.

Not everyone likes La Russa, or the term " genius "  he's been tagged with for decades in the game.

But far more startling than La Russa's hiring is the inclusion of Mark McGwire as La Russa's hitting coach with the Cardinals.

This could be about loyalty in sports and loyalty in life, providing an opportunity for a friend regardless of circumstance.

It could be about second chances in baseball, or in life.

Again, fair enough.

But this is also about sticking your neck out for another.

McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998, establishing a season record at the time and retired with 583 homers earlier in the decade.

However, in the face of steroid accusations, McGwire bailed on those pitches,famously refused to answer questions during a congressional hearing, saying he wasn't there to talk about the past.

Mark McGwire was a slugger, not a hitter.

Many will tell you he was a cheater, not a slugger.

And his ability to coach, teach and motivate professional players with a still warm but dark media spotlight will be a big test of whether Tony La Russa is in fact a " genius "

I'm Fred Wallace


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