Through a statement released by his representative, Mark McGwire firmly and clearly denies having ever used "steroids or any other illegal substance". link
La Russa goes extra mile for Mac
In an editorial in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, Tony La Russa reinforced his position on the steroid scandal. "Mark McGwire's historic career did not involve the use of any illegal or unethical performance-enhancing substances." How La Russa can state that with such certainty, I don't know, but it is clear he is backing Big Mac all the way. Most admirable. link
Pitcher Nelson Briles, who was an important part of two Cardinals World Series teams, died at the age of 61. Briles came up with the Cards in 1965, and got his big chance when Bob Gibson broke his leg in 1967. He won 14 and 19 games, respectively, for the 1967 World Champions and 1968 NL Champs. Briles moved on to Pittsburgh in the Matty Alou trade in 1971 and played for three other teams before ending his career in 1978. He was Vice President of Corporate Projects for the Pirates at the time of his passing.
After flirting with a number of teams in the off-season, including the Cardinals, 40-year-old shortstop Barry Larkin officially retired. The 12-time All-Star and 1995 NL MVP accepted a front-office position for former boss Jim Bowden with the Washington Nationals. Good decision, Barry, and best of luck in the future. I may be a traditionalist at heart, but I am glad to see Larkin end his career having played for just one team, the Cincinnati Reds. I hope Albert Pujols will be the star from the next generation to achieve that.
Minors chat with Sickels
Minor league expert John Sickels, formerly of ESPN, has started a new web blog located at minorleagueball.com link. He is also selling his 2005 Baseball Prospect Book and his Baseball Newsletters through his business site, johnsickels.com link. In addition, Sickels will be hosting a chat session next Monday night, February 21, at 6pm Central time through the facilities of SportsBlurb, link. Check in and get your minor league questions answered from one of the best.