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Mark McGwire on tainted career: ‘There were no rules or regulations when I played’

Mark McGwire believes the statistics he put up during his storied-but-tainted major league career are “Hall of Fame numbers,” despite the Steroid Era shadow looming over his accomplishments.

McGwire, in his eighth season as a big-league coach and second as the bench coach for San Diego Padres manager Andy Green, stated his case in an extensive profile from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.

“There were no rules or regulations when I played,” McGwire said. “That’s the bottom line. Today there are rules and regulations. There’s testing, and that’s what we have to deal with.”

McGwire’s top performance in Hall of Fame balloting was 23.7 percent of the vote in 2010 and dropped off the ballot entirely in 2016.While voters have trended to being more forgiving to players from the Steroid Era, McGwire is content with how things stand.

“I’m totally cool with whatever they do,” McGwire said. “I’ve been that way since Day 1 when people have been asking about it. Are my numbers Hall of Fame numbers? Absolutely, they’re Hall of Fame numbers. If you look at the history of first basemen in the game of baseball, I’m right there in the top five. The thing I’m most proud of is the home runs — one every 10 at-bats. I was a home run hitter. I was born a home run hitter, and I’ve been one since I was playing Little League.”

Hall of Fame talk aside, McGwire went on to express how much he still loves going to the ballpark every day and working with players. But would he ever consider becoming a manager should the opportunity arise?

“I’ve never ruled out [managing],” McGwire said. “Let’s just say I really enjoy what I’m doing. Wherever this takes me, I don’t know.”

It goes without saying that McGwire probably would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer without the PED scandal that plagued him late in his career. Despite the insistence that he put up Hall of Fame numbers in his career, it certainly seems that McGwire has accepted his place in baseball history and all it entails, both good and bad.