What McGwire has brought to the Cardinals as a coach:
As much as some people do not like McGwire he still remains my favorite Cardinal of my life time, sure I have only been around for 17 years and I was a little boy fantasizing of drilling 70 homeruns while watching McGwire…or should I say Fred Bird at the old Busch Stadium. But even for the haters of McGwire and even the haters of LaRussa you have to admit one thing, McGwire has done a lot as batting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and has brought some more personality to the team. Let’s take a look at what Big Mac has brought to the Cardinals.
As one of LaRussa’s success stories and best friends McGwire decided to come out of hiding after his 2001 retiring, and he manned up to his mistakes in front of the entire world. Sure, it took him a while after looking like a fool in front of congress when he did his “What happens in the past stays in the past,” routine. Sure, he used performance enhancing drugs but he sure as hell brought life back into baseball with his great homerun chase with the Cubs Sammy Sosa. Though, he retired and we didn’t see much of him he decided to comeback and join his former Manager to be a part of the coaching staff. His great friendship with TLR and Duncan as well as being a former teammate with Albert Pujols, McGwire seems to be a player favorite who has helped with the new refreshing look of the clubhouse.
After last season when he was brutally criticized for the failures of Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan last season, he showed that he may have not been the reason behind all of that. With Colby Rasmus refusing to learn from Big Mac and Assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete, his average and playing time dipped until he was traded away. Schumaker has another good offensive year showing last season was just a funk. Players of all sorts helped the Cardinals lead the league in hitting, we saw this from Allen Craig, David Freese, Ryan Theriot, Jon Jay, and others. Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and even Albert Pujols despite his off year all still had tremendous seasons and Berkman won comeback player of the year. So isn’t it funny how when the team has good success with hitting he is a hero but when one or two players struggle he is shunned away.
All year the Cardinals remained as one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball, it carried on into the postseason. The Cardinals led the NL in hitting with a .273 team average, led the NL with 726 RBI’s, and they were 6th in homerun’s with 162. Even when the team was slumping the majority of the problems dealt with pitching more so than offense. Though there have been times this year when the team has looked lifeless at the plate, the team tends to get out of their funks as fast as when they got into them. Sure the Cardinals have talented veteran hitters who will hit and have hit no matter who is or was the batting coach, but the Cardinals owe at least some credit to the Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire.
Love him, hate him, or even if you don’t care the Cardinals owe a lot of their 2011 success to their hitting coach Mark McGwire. I hope that we can see Big Mac as the hitting coach for a few more years, even if TLR doesn’t come back. He is always going to have a special place in my heart and though he won’t always be my favorite player, Ill never forget the memories he has brought to me as a player and a coach!