First, the Cardinals surprised the baseball world by hiring Mark McGwire as hitting coach.
Now, manager Tony La Russa is toying with the idea of using Big Mac as a pinch-hitter during the pennant race.
On Wednesday, La Russa said in the Contra Costa Times he had a "nice little dream" of putting McGwire on the Cards' roster if the team is in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Cards won the NL Central in 2009.
C'mon, Tony, quit joking around. If McGwire, when Jose Canseco?
McGwire, who turns 47 years old come October, has not played in the majors since 2001 when he batted .187. McGwire, who has 583 career home runs, did have 29 homers with an effective .808 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in his farewell.
Nine years ago.
After retiring, Big Mac found himself in semi-exile from the game. As he showed in his infuriatingly pathetic appearance before Congress, McGwire has been unwilling to answer allegations — any kind of questions, actually — about performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire's association with steroids and his stubbornness in not discussing them, some believe, has hurt his Hall of Fame chances.
In recent times, McGwire started tutoring individual players such as Matt Holliday(notes) and Skip Schumaker(notes) (presumably in batting, not testifying). That became a full-time job this past fall when the Cardinals hired him as a coach.
McGwire still hasn't talked to the press about his new job, much less about anything salacious.
And now, he might be a player-coach.
La Russa cannot be serious. Can he?
"Is it likely? Probably not," La Russa said. "I don't think it's a zero possibility. The point is, you'll see him in spring training. He won't be leaning on the batting cage chatting it up. He'll work his [butt] off, and hitters will be thrilled he's there helping them."
Here's what media around the Internet are opining about the prospect of Big Mac returning to the game as a player.
• If McGwire did play, it would stop the clock on his Hall of Fame eligibility. N.Y. Daily News
• And, as Matthew Leach notes, McGwire's support ain't so good right now. MLB.com
• Jonah Keri is all for McGwire batting again, and not simply for the novelty. Such a move might circumvent BBWAA members who abuse their voting privileges. JonahKeri.com
• Ah, c'mon, McGwire's not coming back, Tommy Craggs writes. La Russa's just messing with reporters he considers anti-Big Mac. Deadspin
• You just never know with La Russa, though. Fans in St. Louis seem to be having a mixed reaction at this possibility. Cardinal Beat at StlToday.com
• While pondering McGwire's comeback, check out the Cardinals roster broken down into awesome pie graph form. Mmm, pie graph. St. Louis Post-Dispatch