Fact: Manny Ramirez was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games in 2009 for violating its illegal substance policy (1st created back in 2005).
If you recall back in 1995, Major League Baseball was at its perhaps lowest point since the Black Sox Scandal from the early 1920's. A world series had just been canceled due to a player's strike, upsetting many fans at denying them an event as big any other sporting event in the world. At that time, baseball was looking for anything to help bring the fans back to the ballpark. Enter Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. By engaging on an epic Home Run battle in 1996, to break a 35 year old home run record, these players helped bring baseball to the forefront. Steroids or performance enhancing supplements were nowhere to be discussed, nor really cared about. That is until "andro" was discovered in the locker of McGwire. Andro was banned at the time by many sports, baseball not one of them. McGwire decided to stop taking the substance, once his usage became public. He later broke the home run record, and was hailed as a hero throughout the country.
Now, along with Barry Bonds, McGwire is being criticized for his past usage of questionable substances, even though, at the time, these substances weren't deemed "illegal" by Major League Baseball. When his name came up for election in 2006, what was considered to be a lock for election when he retired in 2001, McGwire did not even garner half the votes required for election. It is unlikely that Bonds will garner enough votes for the Hall when his eligibility comes up in 2012.
However, looking at the stories about Manny Ramirez, you see fans everywhere cheering his return. Why are we supporting Manny and not McGwire? Could it be a case of bad timing for McGwire, Bonds, and the rest of those associated with that era in baseball? They didn't break any rules, yet they are being punished in the eyes of public opinion. McGwire has kept a low profile since his infamous congressional testimony regarding his substance use, however hopefully, fans and writers alike will learn to forgive these players of their past, just as they have with Manny Ramirez.