Mark McGwire finally admits to the worst kept secret in sports. He took steroids on and off throughout the 1990's. Where's Claude Rains when you need him? Shocked, yes, we are all shocked, at this revelation.
Big Mac takes the Andy Pettite approach. PEDs were not taken for performance enhancement (though that's what the P and the E stand for), but in order to heal more quickly. It's a decent approach - "just doing it to get healthy for my team." It feels pretty good.
What McGwire says, and what I've said in a slightly different way with an outsider's point of view is this: "I had good years when I didn't take any, and I had bad years when I didn't take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids." Though McGwire has the credibility these days of a member of the Nixon White House, I believe him on this. It would be unbelievably odd to have only good years on steroids and then, what, he stopped taking them and did poorly, then decided he should take them again? Once he took them, I assume it was a fairly consistent part of his per diem.
If you look at the list of players implicated in the Mitchell Report or elsewhere, you get a hodgepodge of talent. The great players were great, the mediocre players were mediocre and the poorer players still sucked. For every Barry Bonds there are ten Randy Velarde
types. So ultimately, do steroids really change the game? Maybe on the margins, and that's where purists bemoan the new records. I understand that. But the breast beating that the game in total was skewed and that a Roger Clemens isn't a Hall of Famer is absurd. The vast majority of players were taking some kind of drug and doesn't that even things out in the long run.