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Cyclone792
07-09-2008, 10:30 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2008-06-30-mcgwire_N.htm


McGwire maintains silent presence, quietly helps hitters

By Bob Nightengale

Once the most famous man in baseball, Mark McGwire lives at the end of a cul-de-sac in a gated community in Irvine, Calif., where the world is not permitted to see him.

He hasn't made a public appearance at a major league ballpark in three years, has declined interview requests and passed on annual invitations to visit his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, in spring training.

McGwire, the greatest show on earth a decade ago when he hit a single-season record 70 home runs, had his last moment in the spotlight in 2005, a tortured day in front of a congressional hearing on steroids from which his words — "I'm not here to talk about the past" — still resonate.

"The perception of Mark is so completely different than the reality," says Craig Daedelow, a friend of McGwire who often sees and talks to him. "People think he's out of the game, but they have no idea just how much he's still in the game."

Although McGwire declined to comment for this story, friends, colleagues and those in the game say he is slowly returning to baseball. They point to the secret hitting lessons he gives to a small group of major leaguers, minor leaguers and college players, and the time two years ago he nearly became the hitting coach of the Colorado Rockies.

They say they are convinced the 44-year-old will be in a baseball uniform in the near future, and not because he is in search of glory or a place in the Hall of Fame after two failed bids, but because his enduring passion for baseball is driving him back after he retired in 2001.

"He would be a tremendous hitting coach," Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd says. "Really, he'd be great at just about anything he wanted to do in baseball. He has so much passion for the game, and so much to offer."

Mike Gallego, McGwire's long-time friend and former teammate, says the former slugger still has conflicted feelings. McGwire has never publicly admitted to using steroids nor denied allegations. He refused to answer whether he used steroids as a player during his March 17, 2005, testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform.

"The game of baseball means so much to him," Gallego says, "that he's embarrassed what he did. He feels like he let a lot of kids down. They looked up to him. He was their hero. And he disappointed them.

"Mac was always a people pleaser.

"And he feels like he hurt them."

McGwire has lost touch with some friends and acquaintances, with former Southern California teammates such as Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks unable to even remember the last time they saw him.

"It's sad," Commissioner Bud Selig says. "He gave so much to this game, but now you don't see him or even hear from him."

Quietly helping hitters

McGwire may have vanished from the public eye, but there are those who know exactly where to find him.

There is no routine, and he doesn't show up every day, but McGwire can be seen in the early mornings or late afternoons at Daedelow's batting cage, Total Baseball, in Huntington Beach, Calif.

This is where he teaches hitting, conducts lessons and discusses philosophies of the game with his protégés.

"He's the most outgoing person there is when it comes to wanting to help people," says New York Yankees utilityman Shelley Duncan, who works with McGwire each winter. "He really revolutionized my swing and changed things around for my career. When I worked with him, my eyes really opened up to the mental side of the game.

"He loves the game, and he really wants to get back into it. He'd be a tremendous hitting coach."

McGwire has hitting disciples throughout baseball, including defending National League batting champion Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies; Skip Schumaker and Chris Duncan, Shelley's brother, of the Cardinals; Howie Clark of the Class AAA Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings; and Jack Rye, who recently completed his senior year at Florida State.

Clark, 34, has 302 major league at-bats with Baltimore, Toronto and Minnesota, and 4,395 minor league at-bats dating to 1992. He says his life changed in 1996 when he started to work with McGwire.

"He's one of the greatest people I've ever met in life," he says. "I've spent 15 years in the minors, and he treats me like a teammate. He's the one who gave me hope, telling me never to give up on my dreams, that I can play in the big leagues.

"When I finally made it, after nine years, Mark was one of the first ones to call me."

McGwire's teachings, his students say, are hopefully the beginning of his reconciliation with Major League Baseball. One day, perhaps as early as this winter or next spring, they believe McGwire will return in an official capacity.

He might be a major league hitting coach or a roving minor league coach. The Cardinals have discussed sending their top prospects to work with him, Daedelow said, citing a recent conversation with McGwire. But those with whom he's worked insist McGwire will return to the game in an official capacity.

"Absolutely," says Schumaker, who along with Chris Duncan spends one week each winter with McGwire, hitting for nearly six hours a day. "He has so much to give, I know he wants to get back into it.

"Really, he needs to be back in this game. Everybody that's ever been around him wants him back. I know he probably wants some things to calm down, and he doesn't want to be a distraction, but I think he can make this work.

"The game needs him. It's time."

Nearly 600 homers, but no Hall

McGwire made his last public baseball appearance during the final weekend of September 2005. He returned to Busch Stadium to commemorate the final regular-season games there.

It also was the last time he spoke publicly, except for a brief comment at a charity event, six months after his congressional testimony.

"When I left Washington, that's the last time I'm going to ever talk about it," McGwire told reporters. "That's really about it. I've moved on. I wish the media would move on from it.

"I'm enjoying life right now. I love the game of baseball. I miss the game of baseball. And I can't wait for someday when somebody offers me a fantastic job to get back in baseball."

McGwire remains haunted by allegations of steroid use. He has 583 home runs, but in Hall of Fame voting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America, he has received only 23.5% and 23.6% of the vote in two years of eligibility. A candidate needs 75% for induction.

If McGwire makes the Hall, the Cardinals will unveil the bronze statue of him that is sitting in a downtown St. Louis warehouse.

"I'm all for you get what you earn, you deserve," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa says, "and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. It's not even a tough call."

Interviewed with Rockies

Two years ago, the Rockies needed a hitting coach. Names were suggested. Résumés poured into O'Dowd's office. And three members of O'Dowd's coaching staff came forth with one recommendation.

Walt Weiss, Jamie Quirk and Gallego, all of whom played with McGwire in Oakland, told O'Dowd he needed to talk to McGwire.

"I thought he'd be perfect," Gallego says. "He has an unbelievable gift of teaching hitting. He was serious about it."

O'Dowd telephoned McGwire and conducted an informal interview. McGwire later pulled himself out of the running, but two years later, O'Dowd has not forgotten.

"I couldn't believe how much he really understood hitting, and how great he was in the interview," O'Dowd says. "There was absolutely no doubt in my mind he'd be great. I still believe that."

So do many people in baseball.

"The guy is unbelievable," says Holliday, who met McGwire two years ago. "I was able to talk to him and pick his brain. I still have him (text-message) me if he sees something.

"I'd love for him to help out, whether it's with us or someone else, and I think he will once he can coach and not have a circus around him."

La Russa, who managed McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis in 14-plus seasons of his 16-year career, has tried the past five years to persuade McGwire to join him as a coach.

He thought McGwire was ready last spring to help out for a week as a spring training instructor. McGwire, married with two young boys and a grown son from his first marriage, waited all spring before finally declining.

"He hasn't been to camp since he retired, but I really thought we were close this time," La Russa says. "He will. It's just a question of when the time is right with his boys.

"I can't wait when he does. He has so much to offer."

Rye's family lives in the same Southern California neighborhood as McGwire, and he introduced himself to McGwire four years ago. Rye, an outfielder, says McGwire never lost touch with him when he went to college and provided hitting lessons when Rye came home. When Rye was drafted in the 13th round by the New York Yankees last month, one of the first congratulatory text messages was from McGwire.

"If I make it" to the big leagues, Rye says, "Mark will be a big reason why. He's helped me so much. He took me under his wing and helped me become the player I am."

Daedelow, whose seven-year minor league career ended because of injuries, says he believes it's a matter of when — not if — McGwire returns to a major league ballpark.

"I just don't know if he's ready to put his name out there and face all of the crap he'd get," Daedelow says.

"When this all blows over, everyone's going to see him again, people will find out the real Mark McGwire. They'll see just how much he loves this game, and really, what he still means to this game."

Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz in Oakland

Joseph
07-09-2008, 10:37 PM
I actually believe he'd be good in this position, especially with someone like Dunn. He'd have far more credibility than Jacoby [not that he wasn't a decent hitter].

edabbs44
07-09-2008, 10:37 PM
There's another guy who took a lot of walks and hit a lot of HRs and is in need of a job. I think he is also based out of Cali.

No thanks on either.

OnBaseMachine
07-09-2008, 10:39 PM
Sounds good to me. He's gotta be better than Jacoby.

VR
07-09-2008, 10:45 PM
Gimme Tony Gwynn

Cyclone792
07-09-2008, 10:45 PM
There's another guy who took a lot of walks and hit a lot of HRs and is in need of a job. I think he is also based out of Cali.

No thanks on either.

And if those guys can effectively teach hitting, I want them on my side teaching hitting.

Ty Cobb was one of the biggest jerks in baseball history. He also took a new position during his playing career and started spreading his hitting advice throughout the roster, turning a hapless offense into a well-oiled machine, including some serious aid in the development of two Hall of Fame hitters.

Sometimes the best hitting instructors are the guys who dominated the game in a batter's box themselves.

Joseph
07-09-2008, 11:00 PM
Ted Kluszewski made a fair hitting instructor and was alright as a hitter.

Jpup
07-09-2008, 11:21 PM
Bonds was a far superior hitter and knows a ton about baseball. Who would you rather have?

Wheelhouse
07-10-2008, 12:36 AM
Nope. McGwire is a coward.

WVRedsFan
07-10-2008, 01:08 AM
How much does a hitting coach do? I don't know, but I still remember Griffey, a few years ago, working with his Dad to correct some problems. Why not the hitting coach? beats me.

I'm willing to try anything at this point. Sure, I remember the lean years, but I cannot remember a team so void of hitting that every game is a 5-7 hit affair and depending on the pitcher being lights out so the team can win. Never.

I think that the time as come for Jacoby to go so that someone, anyone, can help. On the Sunny Side of things, we are only 6 over .500 even with the hitting problems, but ignoring them won't make them go away.

Ron Madden
07-10-2008, 02:41 AM
I thought Chris Chambliss did a good job, hated to see him get fired.

Big Klu
07-10-2008, 04:10 AM
How much does a hitting coach do? I don't know, but I still remember Griffey, a few years ago, working with his Dad to correct some problems. Why not the hitting coach? beats me.

I'm willing to try anything at this point. Sure, I remember the lean years, but I cannot remember a team so void of hitting that every game is a 5-7 hit affair and depending on the pitcher being lights out so the team can win. Never.

I think that the time as come for Jacoby to go so that someone, anyone, can help. On the Sunny Side of things, we are only 6 over .500 even with the hitting problems, but ignoring them won't make them go away.

I remember when Ken Griffey Sr. was the hitting coach!

edabbs44
07-10-2008, 05:42 AM
And if those guys can effectively teach hitting, I want them on my side teaching hitting.

Ty Cobb was one of the biggest jerks in baseball history. He also took a new position during his playing career and started spreading his hitting advice throughout the roster, turning a hapless offense into a well-oiled machine, including some serious aid in the development of two Hall of Fame hitters.

Sometimes the best hitting instructors are the guys who dominated the game in a batter's box themselves.

The question is "Why/How did they dominate the game?"

nate
07-10-2008, 07:27 AM
I dunno, Walt Hriniak didn't hit much more than .230 for his brief big league career.

Charley Lau hit a little better: .250-ish.

They were pretty good hitting coaches without dominating, weren't they?

redsmetz
07-10-2008, 07:45 AM
Ted Kluszewski made a fair hitting instructor and was alright as a hitter.

Joseph, I'm not clear on whether you are saying Klu was a good batting coach (as in "pretty fair") or if you mean mediocre. As I recall, he was the hitting coach during the BRM era. Am I remembering that correctly? Of course, many on that team rolled out of bed hitting.

cumberlandreds
07-10-2008, 07:50 AM
Joseph, I'm not clear on whether you are saying Klu was a good batting coach (as in "pretty fair") or if you mean mediocre. As I recall, he was the hitting coach during the BRM era. Am I remembering that correctly? Of course, many on that team rolled out of bed hitting.

Yes he was the hitting coach during the BRM era. He was always considered a very good hitting coach. But he had some horses to work with too.

redsmetz
07-10-2008, 08:12 AM
I dunno, Walt Hriniak didn't hit much more than .230 for his brief big league career.

Charley Lau hit a little better: .250-ish.

They were pretty good hitting coaches without dominating, weren't they?

This thread got me thinking about who are the hitting coaches for the current teams leading in team BA. I stopped at #6 with team averages around .270 or higher:

Boston: Dave Magadan .288 career average
Cubs: Gerald Perry .265 career average
Texas: Rudy Jaramillo*, no ML experience
Minnesota: Joe Vavra, no ML experience
Detroit: Lloyd McClendon .244 career average
St. Louis: Hal McRae .290 career average

15fan
07-10-2008, 08:32 AM
I'm not exactly a tree huggin hippie.

But I'd prefer a hitting coach of the organic / free range variety.

Danny Serafini
07-10-2008, 09:05 AM
I couldn't possibly care less what substances a coach used/didn't use in his past. What's important isn't how he hit, it's whether he can teach hitting to others. If he can do that really well you hire him, if he can't you don't. Anything else is irrelevant.

Falls City Beer
07-10-2008, 09:12 AM
Get Hal McRae.

paulrichjr
07-10-2008, 11:37 AM
Get Hal McRae.


Former Red. - Check
He is qualified then. :D

Highlifeman21
07-10-2008, 11:50 AM
The question is "Why/How did they dominate the game?"

Last time I checked, steroids don't help you see the ball any better, give you a better sense of the strikezone, nor do they help with hand-eye coordination.

Maybe they'll give you a little quicker bat speed and help your body recover quicker, but at the end of the day the player is still the engine putting the ball in play, not a needle.

nate
07-10-2008, 11:58 AM
The question is "Why/How did they dominate the game?"

The question should be "can they help improve our hitting?"

_Sir_Charles_
07-10-2008, 12:21 PM
Well, nobody else has tossed it out there....I want Pete as our hitting coach. :O) Hey, a guy can dream can't he?

Seriously though, I want a hitting coach who stressed patience at the plate and hitting to all fields during his carreer. A guy who also loved to watch tape to improve his stroke. Tony Gwynn comes to mind. Wade Boggs comes to mind. I'd say Don Mattingly comes to mind, but the Dodgers just snagged him. There are a ton of guys out there who are completely out of baseball who'd be great fits IMO. Rod Carew? George Brett?

But while we're at it...Pole could use a replacement as well. If you want to stay in-house, Power from Louisville? Tom Browning from Billings? Soto? Or go outside the organization and snag Leo Mazzone.

RedlegJake
07-10-2008, 12:30 PM
I couldn't possibly care less what substances a coach used/didn't use in his past. What's important isn't how he hit, it's whether he can teach hitting to others. If he can do that really well you hire him, if he can't you don't. Anything else is irrelevant.

Bingo. Some guys can teach and others can't. Whether you're talking hitting, pitching or calculus. Some star hitters get frustrated trying to teach because they never struggled much. See ball hit ball. Some lousy career players still know tons about mechanics, tricks that can help, etc because they tried it all but their personal athletic abilities couldn't keep up. Most coaches get "super coach" status because they coach a really talented bunch. Maybe Klu was a great coach or maybe he taught hitting to the BRM so he was considered really good. It's a lot easier being Leo Mazzone with the Braves staff than the Orioles for example. Name a coach who is considered premiere who has been on consistent losers. Either they leave when they see what they have to work with or they don't get good results because they don't have talent to work with. And the manager can set the tone for coaches. The Reds seem to be very aggressive in first and second pitch strikes but very patient once they do get ahead in the count. Ergo they get a lot of walks but also frustrate us by often swinging at first offerings. This aggressiveness is evident in the running game, too where they run themselves out of innings. To me it's not so much Jacoby as a lack of overall talent and a philosophy he's saddled with.

Talent trumps everything else. You have to put the talent in place first before managers or coaches have any real impact good or bad. Less talented teams aren't going to win pennants because Lou Piniella or Davey Johnson manages them or Mazzone coaches the pitchers or Lau teaches the hitters. Good coaching and management maximizes talent and puts them in positions to succeed. Talent is still the driver, though, not the coaches.

Scrap Irony
07-10-2008, 02:11 PM
Dave Duncan, IMO, is the exception to the rule. Because Duncan is so good, St. Louis rarely struggles. Pitchers come to St. Louis struggling and leave successful. A lot.

Ron Madden
07-11-2008, 02:25 AM
Chris Chambliss taught patience at the plate.

More often than not his teams scored a bunch o' runs.

It was Poor Pitching hurt the Reds, NOT Chris Chambliss.

:)

jojo
07-11-2008, 07:20 AM
The question is "Why/How did they dominate the game?"

With Bonds and MM it's pretty clear. They were the best of their generation and when that kind of ability gets enhanced, the numbers become absurd.

jojo
07-11-2008, 07:45 AM
McGwire would be an great guy to stick in Dayton...he'd be out of the media spotlight and his knowledge would be somewhere where it could be leveraged rather than wasted (major league hitting coaches really are more babysitters/administrators than difference makers).

If he's really passionate about teaching, that's the place to be.....

oneupper
07-11-2008, 08:23 AM
Hiring McGwire as a hitting coach, or in that case hiring Barry Bonds to HIT, just constitutes another example of "winning at ANY cost"

Winning at ANY cost is the philosophy that made these guys the shameful blemishes to the sport that they are.

Just say NO.

jojo
07-11-2008, 08:32 AM
Hiring McGwire as a hitting coach, or in that case hiring Barry Bonds to HIT, just constitutes another example of "winning at ANY cost"

Winning at ANY cost is the philosophy that made these guys the shameful blemishes to the sport that they are.

Just say NO.

Well if that's the standard, then professional baseball needs to be dissolved because it has a rich history where cheating is ingrained into its very being....

We, as a society, have thus been tainted by entertaining professional baseball as a past time....

oneupper
07-11-2008, 09:28 AM
Well if that's the standard, then professional baseball needs to be dissolved because it has a rich history where cheating is ingrained into its very being....

We, as a society, have thus been tainted by entertaining professional baseball as a past time....

Yes...and while we're at it, let's erradicate human life from the planet since there are SINNERS amongst us (past AND present).

Seriously, though, if baseball wishes to move forward, as I hope they do, then reaching out to a guy like McGwire is a bad idea. Sending a known steriod cheater to spend time with your young hitters IMO, is akin to sending Lay (RIP) and Fastow to teach executive trainees about Business Ethics and Accounting. They may be great at it, but it's not a good idea...and not a good signal to send.

If I'm a baseball exec, who wants to better the sport or just even cover my butt, this is an easy decision. NO. No need.

I understand that we all come down in different places on moral/ethical issues in baseball and in life. Everyone has their line in the sand and their gray areas. I'm fine with that. But if we're going to discuss it, state your own opinions without misrepresenting mine. Thanks.

jojo
07-11-2008, 09:59 AM
Yes...and while we're at it, let's erradicate human life from the planet since there are SINNERS amongst us (past AND present).

Seriously, though, if baseball wishes to move forward, as I hope they do, then reaching out to a guy like McGwire is a bad idea. Sending a known steriod cheater to spend time with your young hitters IMO, is akin to sending Lay (RIP) and Fastow to teach executive trainees about Business Ethics and Accounting. They may be great at it, but it's not a good idea...and not a good signal to send.

If I'm a baseball exec, who wants to better the sport or just even cover my butt, this is an easy decision. NO. No need.

I understand that we all come down in different places on moral/ethical issues in baseball and in life. Everyone has their line in the sand and their gray areas. I'm fine with that. But if we're going to discuss it, state your own opinions without misrepresenting mine. Thanks.

I didn't misrepresent your opinion.

I pointed out that professional baseball has never been a bastion for fair play and it's very easy to see why steroids was so easily integrated into it's fabric. Cheating has been a huge part of baseball since the first players were paid. The only unique thing about steroids and baseball is that they've allowed the truly elite players to enter the realm of absurd which has caused a public uproar as some hollowed records have fallen in the process. In other words, the impact of cheating with steroids has messed with our ability to romanticize the sport and we're pissed about it.

In other words, the only reason to shun McGwire would be to send a message to fans....

Cyclone792
07-11-2008, 10:12 AM
Hiring McGwire as a hitting coach, or in that case hiring Barry Bonds to HIT, just constitutes another example of "winning at ANY cost"

Winning at ANY cost is the philosophy that made these guys the shameful blemishes to the sport that they are.

Just say NO.

I really don't care what McGwire may have or may not have done in the past if he can help - in a clean, honest fashion - one or more Reds hitters (or prospects) flourish.

But you don't have to worry. The Cardinals are likely to scoop him up as a hitting instructor in their organization at some spot, and then Cardinals hitters will tee off on Reds pitching for the next decade (not that this would be any change from the past decade).

Unassisted
07-11-2008, 12:11 PM
Jocketty should have a first-hand opinion on McGwire. Wasn't he the GM when McGwire came to STL?

westofyou
07-11-2008, 12:14 PM
Jocketty should have a first-hand opinion on McGwire. Wasn't he the GM when McGwire came to STL?

Yep and he was in Oakland when he came up, and the year that he hit .204 too.

He knows him and his background from the moment he left USC.

Red Heeler
07-11-2008, 12:38 PM
Hiring McGwire as a hitting coach, or in that case hiring Barry Bonds to HIT, just constitutes another example of "winning at ANY cost"

Winning at ANY cost is the philosophy that made these guys the shameful blemishes to the sport that they are.

Just say NO.

Without second chances, we would never have seen how good Josh Hamilton is.

That being said, I would like to see McGwire come clean on what he did or did not use. There would not have been nearly the backlash and resentment if he had said, "I took more Winstrol than Big Brown and I'm sorry," instead of his wishy-washy, "I'm not here to talk about the past."

KronoRed
07-12-2008, 12:25 AM
Yep and he was in Oakland when he came up, and the year that he hit .204 too.

He knows him and his background from the moment he left USC.

Sounds like it would be a decent fit...

Boy I'd love to hear the local media if that ever went down

Chip R
07-12-2008, 12:45 AM
I wouldn't say that's an impressive list of guys McGwire has helped besides Holliday. I don't exactly know what he brings to the table besides his name. I realize that when he was hitting all those HRs with StL that he was a very patient hitter. But it isn't difficult to be a patient hitter when the strike zone's the size of The Sporting News and you can hang right over the plate and you have unnatural power. IIRC, Canseco said that he and McGwire had been juicing since they were in the minors. I'm not so sure that if I have a minor league system that - like all minor league systems - have guys in there who are so hungry to get to the Show that they will do about anything to get there that I want a guy who made his name and reputation by the use of shortcuts.