Five years ago next month, the newspaper received the following statement from Big Mac: "Once and for all, I did not use steroids or any other illegal substance."
Now we have a newer version of truth from the smaller Medium Mac. He did use steroids, but only for his health, never to enhance his performance. For that matter, the steroids did not help him hit all those home runs. That ability was a gift from God. Nevertheless, Medium Mac is sorry about taking steroids.
Why would you be sorry you did something for your health? That's like apologizing for eating vegetables.
Also, we have learned that Tony La Russa, the smartest man in baseball and Mark McGwire's staunchest defender, learned only this week that his longtime friend was a steroid user. "Mark and I never confronted it," he told ESPN.
Not even after Jose Canseco's book about rampant steroid use among La Russa's Oakland players, a book in which Canseco specifically mentioned McGwire? Not even after Big Mac went to Congress and refused to talk about the past?
At a time when everybody in baseball was talking about McGwire and steroids, and La Russa was front and center denying all such allegations, it never came up?
What are we to make of all this?
I think of that famous sportswriter, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Back in 1817, he wrote that being a baseball fan in the steroid era requires a "willing suspension of disbelief." Actually, Coleridge was writing about a reader's responsibility to accept supernatural elements witches and such as part of what he called poetic faith.
But he could have been talking about baseball in the steroid era.
A home run record that had been almost sacred and unapproachable was suddenly demolished. And not just by Big Mac. Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs the same year.
In hindsight, it's easy to say we should have known. And maybe we did. Remember the reporter finding the Andro in Big Mac's locker? That's called a clue.
Most people ignored it. In fact, the villain in that story was the snoopy reporter.
So we're good at this suspension of disbelief thing.