Tuesday, November 28, 2006

McGwire Should be Shut Out of Hall of Fame

The ballots for the 2007 baseball Hall of Fame are out, and it's one of the most intriguing and important years for the vote in a long time. That's because in addition to sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers in Cal Ripken Jr and Tony Gwynn, one-time single-season home run champion and suspected steroid user Mark McGwire is up for election. A lot has been made of this ballot being the first test case for how we evaluate the steroid era in the context of baseball history. The thinking goes that a few years removed from the beginning of widespread awareness of steroid use in professional baseball, we will have gained some perspective and hopefully, some wisdom on how to evaluate the players. So far, the prevailing thought seems to be, look at any power numbers from the era with a healthy dose of skepticism, which I believe is warranted. With that in mind, my thought is that if you are a Hall of Fame voter, you cannot vote Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame.

There are a number of reasons that electing McGwire, at least at the moment, would be a foolish and potentially embarrassing idea for voters. First of all, there is way too much suspicion that has surrounded his career to be taken lightly.

- His time early in his career as a member of the Oakland A's "Bash Brothers" duo with Jose Canseco, admitted steroid user. Being so closely linked with Canseco can only damage McGwire's reputation. And with a confirmed steroid user there in the locker room, the temptation was certainly available for the young McGwire to partake as well.

- The discovery during his record-breaking 1998 season that he used a supplement, "andro," that while not banned by Major League Baseball at the time, has since been forbidden. While you can't blast McGwire for using andro if it was an allowed substance at the time, the episode is significant because it reveals his some of his philosophy on how to maintain the unmatched physical shape he had acheived by that point in his career. If this supplement was fair game, you can't rule out others.

- Of course, the 2005 Congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball in which McGwire repeatedly took the fifth when asked critical questions , saying that he wasn't "here to talk about the past." While that's not such an overt admission of guilt, don't you think that if you've been called to this hearing, there is some suspicion that you have used steroids? And if you're McGwire, who has so much to lose, namely your reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy if you don't convincingly deny your involvement, wouldn't you run with the opportunity to clear your name if you were at all capable? To me, the fact that he didn't do just that is an implicit admission of guilt.

With so much suspicion clouding his candidacy, it would be foolish for voters to elect him to the Hall unless there is conclusive evidence that proves otherwise. What if hypothetically, he was voted in on the first ballot and then somebody with nothing to lose and intimate knowledge of the situation, a la Jason Grimsley this past season, revealed that he in fact was guilty of steroid use? What an embarrassment that would be for the baseball Hall of Fame, which holds itself up to be the most prestigious of all the Hall of Fames in sports.

At this point, voters seem to agree with this assessment, as an overwhelming minority of those surveyed in an Associated Press poll said they would not vote for McGwire on this ballot.


Reema said...

Did you hear about Vick's obscenity? Since when can you get fined for that, I feel like that would have to be some sort of violation of free speech

Adam said...

I'm going to have to disagree. Steroid use isn't enough for me to shut someone like McGwire out of the Hall. He would have been a HOFer even without whatever small benefit he may have gotten by adding andro to his workout .

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