Lots of love has poured in for Mark McGwire. Lots of hostility, too.
Hank Aaron spoke of "forgiveness" and said, "It's nice to have him back." Bobby Crosby, one of the hottest hitters in Pittsburgh's camp, acknowledged McGwire for working with him on his swing in the offseason. Tony La Russa and Co. praise the Cardinals' new hitting coach for his work ethic and vision, and fans in Florida flock to him for autographs.
On the flip side, McGwire has been criticized by several Hall of Famers, including Fergie Jenkins, who said that McGwire -- because of how steroids helped him succeed -- should apologize to the pitchers he faced. Jay McGwire published a book detailing his brother's drug use, and Missouri politicians worked to remove McGwire's name from the Mark McGwire Highway.
The reaction is mixed, which was expected.
Now imagine Barry Bonds wanting to return to the game.
I asked Commissioner Bud Selig for his view on McGwire, and Selig, in favor of the former first baseman's return to the game, said, "He's handled himself very well."
A follow-up question: "Would you have the same feeling about Bonds if he tried to return?"
Selig: "Oh, I'm not going to get into that. Every situation is unique."
Really, Bonds is no different based on the premise McGwire used steroids to break Roger Maris' record and Bonds used steroids to break McGwire's record. But for Selig, consider that McGwire helped revive the game following the disastrous 1994-95 strike, and Bonds' connection with the BALCO scandal helped bring it down.
That Bonds snagged the career home run record from Aaron, Selig's friend, was an extra stinger. It's easy to see why Selig would be more willing to give McGwire a pass.
Not that Bonds is going to make a comeback as a hitting coach. For starters, it's tough to imagine Bonds, if his legal issues ever end, coming clean and apologizing.
Then again, he has never expressed interest in being a big-league coach. He always said he'd prefer working with college kids, and that's fine with the commissioner.