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St. Louis fans cheer for McGwire

Yes, by most accounts Mark McGwire was roundly cheered in St. Louis last weekend. So, what of it? The L.A. Times' Austin Knoblauch (no relation, as far as I know) thinks the fans should have held their applause:

    It appears there's at least one group of supposed baseball fans who are willing to give Mark McGwire a standing ovation.

    McGwire made his first public appearance at a St. Louis Cardinals promotional event Sunday to the delight of cheering fans who didn't seem to mind the 12-time All-Star cheated during his career.

    --snip--

    Team loyalties are a part of every sport, but there needs to be a point when a hometown hero needs to be stripped of his cape.

    With his playing career tarnished, McGwire needs to build a new legacy for himself. Perhaps he can create a new life in baseball through the coaching and managerial ranks.

    But until McGwire actually does something that isn't directly related to his playing days, I hope we never see anyone cheering for him like that again.

There needs to be a point when a hometown hero needs to be stripped of his cape?

Well, OK. But what is that point, exactly?

Anyway, I don't think that McGwire is particularly revered in St. Louis. Somewhere in the area, probably covered by a tarpaulin or something, is a bronze statue of Mark McGwire. It's been kept under wraps for years. If McGwire really was revered by the fans, don't you think ownership would have installed that statue outside Busch Stadium by now?

I think the reception for McGwire was about three parts support and one part courteous. You can't blame anyone for being courteous, and if you're going to indict them for their support, you'll have to indict the great majority of sports fans throughout sports history. In this country, anyway. Barry Bonds was always cheered in San Francisco, and Manny Ramirez was cheered last season upon returning from his suspension. I suppose you can assume a dollop of provincialism, too; the fans in St. Louis might be a touch less supportive if the media outside of St. Louis weren't so unforgiving.

But really, this is what we do. We forgive and support our guys, particularly if they've worked and bled and played well for us. If you think the fans in St. Louis shouldn't do that for their guy, fine. But that means you've got to hold the fans everywhere else to that same tough standard.