Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci took advantage of the holiday break to tidy up around the office, and lo and behold, he’s found a tape recording of an interview with Hall of Fame hopeful Mark McGwire from 1998.

I told McGwire he must have heard rumors of steroid use by his former Oakland teammate, Jose Canseco, and perhaps rumors that even McGwire himself had used steroids that may have contributed to a series of foot injuries.

“Yeah. Right. I’ve heard that before,” McGwire said.

“Have you ever experimented with . .

McGwire answered before I could finish the sentence: “Never.”

“Or know anything about them?”

“No . . . Of course I know about it,” he said, “but never experimented with it.

“I think people look at my baseball card as a rookie and they look at the way I look now and I laugh because, go look at Kirby Puckett, go look at Cecil Fielder, go look at Roger Clemens, go look at everybody who ever played the game of baseball and look at what they looked like as a rookie and what they look like today. Everybody’s much bigger, much stronger, much faster.”

“”I just sit back and I think, Why does somebody want to discredit somebody when he has success? You know?” McGwire said. “Because a guy enjoys lifting weights and taking care of himself, why do they think that guy is doing something illegal? Why not look at the positive side and say, ‘Hey, this guy works really, really hard at what he does and is dedicated to being the best he can be?’

“I sure hope that’s the way people look at me. You know?”