The Mark McGwire Rehabilitation Project Begins Now

Mark McGwire wants to be loved again. Unfortunately, everyone hates him. So how to remedy that? Simple. Hitch your wagon to Tony La Russa's star. Everyone loves that dude!

You might have thought that once Mark McGwire had faded off into the sunset, he would stay there. A non-Hall of Famer quietly living out his days in a beachfront shack somewhere, wearing sandals to the grocery store and learning to play the accordion. Instead, he's decided to follow the playbook of any smart scandal-ridden athlete looking to get back in the public's good graces. First, find a respected citizen to vouch for you, then take a job that seems beneath your (former) stature. Since Tony Dungy and a third-string quarterback position were both unavailable, his old pal Tony La Russa has agreed to hire him to be the new St. Louis hitting coach.

La Russa was thought to be on the verge of retirement, but has agreed to come back for one more big score, possibly because it gives him a chance to help resurrect his friend's baseball career. McGwire has been quietly working behind the scenes as a for-hire hitting instructor, but who else would be willing to take a chance on him as a fully-formed, on-the-bench coach? (They're a package deal. Neither one could [or would] come back without the other.) Once fans get used to seeing him in that Cardinal uniform again, they'll remember how much they loved watching him smash those home runs and that nostalgic joy will make them realize they don't really care how he did it.

Then, after a few well-placed quotes from Albert Pujols about what a great influence the old slugger has been, he'll hold a press conference, say whatever needs to be said about his steroid use and we'll all move on. As Buster Olney points out, that strategy has worked wonders for Alex Rodriguez (the World Series visit helped) and if Mark McGwire's advice makes the Cardinals even slightly better, then he easily becomes that "good guy" again. (It's already working.) Three or four more years go by and bingo—75% of the vote.

It's just crazy enough to work.

McGwire's return to Cardinals as hitting coach makes sense [Post-Dispatch]
Stunner: McGwire back in baseball? [SF Chronicle]
McGwire's back, and there's nothing wrong with it [Fox Sports]
Cardinals schedule midday news conference [AP]
Keep the head down and inject 2 cc of nandrolone: Mark McGwire to be hitting coach at St. Louis [Steroid Nation]