Can you picture Mark McGwire in Dodger Blue?
I sure can’t. Having grown up rooting for the Oakland A’s and now living in St. Louis Cardinals country, it is hard for me to imagine McGwire wearing anything other than the green and yellow of Oakland or Cardinal Red. But apparently, that is going to happen.
It took years before former Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa was able to convince McGwire to come out of exile and take the job as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.
McGwire worked on La Russa’s staff for two seasons (2010 and 2011) and the Cardinals won the World Series during McGwire’s second season. Following the World Series win, La Russa retired and former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny took over. With the exception of Dave Duncan, every coach from La Russa’s staff returned for the first season of Matheny’s regime.
During McGwire’s third season as the Cardinals hitting coach, the Redbirds’ offense made history. For the first time in franchise history, the Redbirds had five players hit 20 or more home runs. But the end game was not reached as St. Louis fell one win shy of returning to the World Series.
First year Cardinals bullpen coach, Dyar Miller, became the first casualty when he was not retained. Now McGwire exiting stage left, to Hollywood. That’s right, reports are that McGwire declined the Cardinals offer of a contract extension.
McGwire has shown he can be a successful coach. His teams have put together very good offensive numbers over the course of the year.
One has to wonder why McGwire is going to Los Angeles though. My best guess for the change is that La Russa being gone, McGwire does not feel a need to stay in St. Louis with his former manager and boss now gone. Los Angeles is also where McGwire hails from.
McGwire is from Orange County. He went to college at University of Southern California and starred on the baseball team. McGwire is divorced from his first wife with whom he has a son. Taking a job with the Dodgers could possibly allow Big Mac to see his family more often. In addition, McGwire and his new wife reside in Irvine, California. Together McGwire and his second wife have five kids, two boys and triplet girls.
But again, the idea of McGwire taking a job in southern California with the Dodgers to be closer to home is just my guess.
McGwire will not be walking into an easy situation. He is about to be the Dodgers’ seventh hitting coach in eight years. McGwire will have a lot of work to do with his new team.
Last season Los Angeles acquired former San Diego Padres slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and the speedy former Tampa Bay Devil Ray outfielder Carl Crawford from the Red Sox. The Dodgers also picked up shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins. In addition to the trade acquisitions, the Dodgers also have Matt Kemp and Andre Either.
I guess the hardest part, for me, of seeing McGwire in LA, will date back to the 1988 World Series. McGwire and the A’s came into the Fall Classic with expectations of running away with the title. But, the Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s four games to one. McGwire went 1-for-17 in the 1988 World Series. His lone hit was a game-winning home run in the bottom of ninth inning of Game 3 to give the A’s their only win.
The only thing worse than seeing McGwire in a different uniform, would be seeing him wearing a different jersey number. Since the number is not retired by the Dodgers, I quickly scanned through the Dodgers’ roster and saw that number 25 is available.
But, through it all, the one question that lingers for me is this, would getting a No. 25 McGwire Dodgers jersey be a weird one to add to my jersey collection?