Trachsel: Fans wanted to believe
For all their success on the baseball field during the 1998 season, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire might have been as good of actors as they were sluggers, says former Chicago Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel.
Trachsel told "Carmen, Jurko and Harry" Tuesday on ESPN 1000 that the superstar sluggers didn't like each other, making their memorable embrace after McGwire's record-breaking 62nd home run -- off Trachsel -- surprising to those in the know.
"Everybody wanted to believe them. That goes from the fans to the ownership, everybody. Nobody wanted to believe that they were cheating," Trachsel said. "Everyone was excited about the home runs, the stands were full. Everyone was excited to watch SportsCenter that night and see what happened."
Trachsel, who had his best season as a Cub during that 1998 season, winning 15 games, said he was bothered by Sosa running in from right field to congratulate McGwire after the record-breaking home run that night in St. Louis.
"I know a lot of guys in our clubhouse were upset that Sammy came in from right field, from the coaching staff all the way on down," Trachsel said. "It looked great on TV, and that's obviously what everyone keeps seeing. But to have an opposing player during the game congratulate another opposing player, from a player's standpoint, I didn't appreciate it."
Trachsel, who said the only player he is certain never took performance-enhancing drugs is himself, is disappointed by McGwire's insistence in his admission that he took PEDs not to improve his performance but to stay healthy.
"I just have a hard time believing any of that," Trachsel said. "You take a look at how his numbers rose during that period, and you can't make that argument that it didn't help him."
Asked if he, like McGwire, wishes he hadn't played in the steroid era, Trachsel said the times just make the clean players look better.
"I wish it would have been a more level playing field," Trachsel said. "The more players that come out admitting to doing this kind of shows what I did in my career [was] tougher. If you look at what Pedro Martinez did, he already had ridiculously good numbers, so to say what he did in the steroid era is even greater. I think that trickles down to the rest of the players and pitchers who were clean and didn't do it."
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