Mark McGwire still has my vote

When it comes to the Hall of Fame, I have voted for Mark McGwire for three straight years. I will vote for him for the next 12 years, or until he is inducted into Cooperstown.

I will also vote for Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens as well. Every single year.

McGwire revealed on Monday for the first time that he did take steroids, including in 1998 when he broke the Major League single season home run record.

McGwire.jpgMy reaction? Same as Captain Renault…

“I’m shocked! Shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.”

I had the opportunity to cover McGwire in 1998 while I was still with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I saw nine of his 70 home runs. I had a great time doing so. Hey, during one of my trips to St. Louis, my hotel was over-run by a convention of Catholic nuns and no, I was not alone in the hotel watering hole.

Never will forget one Sister telling the barkeep, “I’ll have another Michelob.”

It was pretty obvious McGwire was on steroids. He was massive and his batting practice home runs were ridiculous. Pete Incaviglia put on the most impressive batting practice displays ever on the Rangers and he was completely and totally dwarfed by McGwire.

Why wasn’t it reported he was on steroids? Why was the media an accomplice to the charade?

Very simple. Pay attention. You can not report something that has not been substantiated. That is wrong.

There were no drug tests back then. Nobody ever came out and accused him of anything. There was no substantial proof that he was on steroids. No real journalist – this was before blogs and tweeting – can accuse somebody of something illegal without having documented proof or somebody coming out and saying something.

It’s dead wrong.

As Mark Twain said, “Get the facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

Hey, the guy wrote Huckleberry Finn.

I can name Rangers over the years that I suspect. But not going to do that. No way. It’s wrong without proof. Plus in some cases I’m probably wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

All right, now we have proof. Why still voting for McGwire?

Same reason as always.

I refuse to sit in judgement of players who use steroids. Not qualified to do that. Still feel qualified to vote for the Hall of Fame based on baseball accomplishments – although Repoz and the boys at Baseball Think Factory may deem otherwise.

But I decline the honor of judging players based on the possibility that they used steroids. Still think the number of steroids users is much higher than anybody imagined. Methinks it was rampant.

So every December, I’m going to take my ballot, call up www.baseball-reference.com and cast my votes based on their on-field accomplishments.

There are no doubt some who will get left off who otherwise might have made it had they chosen to use steroids. Maybe Dale Murphy would have 700 home runs by now.

I’m just one of 500 or so voters. My stance probably means very little. Getting 75 percent of the vote is quite tough. Just ask Bert Blyleven. Or even Ellis Burks.

But McGwire has one yes vote, now and in the future.

Remember one thing. When it gets right down to it, it’s nothing more than a museum in a small village – although incredibly beautiful – in upstate New York.

 

 

20 Comments

TR, I love to read your articles and blogs. I have read your stuff since you wrote for the Star Telegram. But on this, I must respectfully disagree with your somewhat stubborn stance. Anyone can argue the should he or shouldn’t he’s. And that’s fine. So it doesn’t matter to you that McGwire and players like him smeared this game and contributed to it’s demise as the national pastime. Okay, I get that. Your response is “yes it happened, but who cares. He’s got the stats”. Fine. But here is where you lost me.
“I’m just one of 500 or so voters. My stance probably means very little”.

If you take your vote so lightly, please let someone else have it. I believe your vote should, at least in part, be representative of the majority of the fans. Are you voting for you? If that is so, please wake up. It’s not about you. You should be honored to have that one vote and you should go to great lengths to ensure it is used wisely. You want to vote for McGwire? Go ahead. But, what’s your point? McGwire’s baseball accomplishments? Let’s reward him for being one of the many who fooled us all into thinking there was something magic about that home run race. Yes, he accomplished so much more than Roger Maris didn’t he. Players like him used steroids because it was all about them and not their team. Maybe that’s it. Whether we’re talking about your vote or the steroids users, it’s NOT about baseball and the purity that can be found in the game if you remove greed, money, and ego and insert TEAM.

I have a feeling the list of players who didn’t use some kind of substance is much shorter than those who did.

MLB, the owners ignored the issue until Congress threatened them – they are truly more guilty than any player will ever be in my opinion.

Good stuff TR

Respectfully, but strongly, disagree. That “museum” holds greater meaning to the vast majority of baseball fans than, apparently, it does to reporters whose proximity to the game has skewed their historical perspective. The numbers are what separates baseball from other sports. No football fan could tell you how many TDs Unitas threw, or how many career wins Landry had, but legions of fans know the numbers 755, .367, 56, and yes, 61, and what those numbers signify. The steroid users skewed those numbers forever, the HR numbers, anyway. They cheated and should not be rewarded. Did Willie Mays and Tris Speaker not deal with “wear and tear” or “pressure”, like McGwire? What about a guy like Wally Joyner, who came into the league the same time as McGwire, played the same position, and was far more talented, but his numbers were dwarfed. You’ve earned your vote, but the lack of support for Big Mac should be revealing. When the votes come up for the most talented of the abusers, namely Clemens and Bonds, I think you’ll realize just how deep the nation’s contempt runs for the top players of this era.

Vote
Juan
2011

TR, appreciate your column and position on McGwire. I’m amazed at the number of people who apparently aren’t bothered by pitchers who scuffed the ball or added foreign substances to the ball, batters who corked bats, players who threw games (Cobb & Speaker) players who used uppers, etc. and yet these folks want to be first in line to cast stones at McGwire, Bonds, and anyone else they suspect.
I’m also envious of the good health of people who apparently have never had to take drugs to get through a day’s work .. (read Rob Neyer’s column on ESPN). With so many people so quick and able to cast stones, the canonization process is going to be busy in the future.

Name any Hall of Famer before the steroid era whose numbers IMPROVED, in many cases dramatically, after age 34. Save yourself some time. There weren’t any. The difference between ball-scuffing, bat-corking, and “greenies” is that anabolic steroids changed body structures, endurance and strength. It skewed the records, and that’s what makes it different from simply “gaining an edge”, which is as old as the game itself.

TR…You know that I’m a faithful follower and truly respect your writing and coverage of the Rangers…but I disagree. I’ve tried to think of another way to express my position…it’s difficult to think of any other way to say it than McGwire took a competitive advantage that he knew was wrong. If it wasn’t wrong he would have shouted it from the rooftops. “Hey I found this new drug and now I’m hitting a ton.” He knew it was wrong! The pitcher who scuffs a ball doesn’t announce it. The batter who corks a bat doesn’t announce it. Mark McGwire didn’t announce that he took steroids until the record was made.

I have a friend who cheats at cards. We only play for fun. Guess what…I don’t play with him anymore..

In the end though it’s the kids and the lesson it sends to them. As parents and teachers we have to work our butts off to keep these kids off drugs. To see a guy who “drugs” get to the top sends the wrong message.

I wouldn’t vote for McGwire for the Hall though I do indeed have more respect for him now that he has at least admitted it. In the end though it’s your vote…and your responsibility.

I think it’s obvious that Mr. Sullivan takes his Hall of Fame vote very seriously.

That’s obviously why he posted this blog and wrote in a clear manner rather than the occasional, obscure, hidden-meaning, pop-culture laden references that he entertains us with in a self-indulgent attempt to vent privately.

Here is my thing. McGwire took steroids. He should punished.

Fine.

By who? Congress? FBI? Bud Selig? The Baseball Writers?

Who is the ultimate judge on this?

To me, that’s what Mr. Sullivan is saying. He is saying that he should not be the judge in this matter. That’s not his role as a Hall of Fame voter.

I disagree. That’s why they asked him to vote. McGwire should not be in the Hall of Fame. I agree with that. But Mr. Sullivan does take most things seriously.

Michelob huh?

Big Mac does not get my vote for the Hall of Fame. He’s got the #’s, but the Hall is about more than just stats – it’s about being one of Baseball’s elite. Maybe he was elite w/o the ‘roids, but we’ll never know. He didn’t give us a chance to know that – and neither will he.

Amphetamine (amfetamine (INN)) is a psychostimulant drug that is known to produce increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite. Amphetamine is related to drugs such as methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are a group of potent drugs that act by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, inducing euphoria.[2][3] The group includes prescription CNS drugs commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat symptoms of traumatic brain injury and the daytime drowsiness symptoms of narcolepsy, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. Initially, amphetamine was more popularly used to diminish the appetite and to control weight. Brand names of the drugs that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Vyvanse, and Dexedrine, as well as Benzedrine in the past.

The drug is also used recreationally and as a performance enhancer. Recreational users of amphetamine have coined numerous euphemisms for amphetamine, such as speed and crank. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports the typical retail price of amphetamine in Europe varied between €10 and €15 ($14.38 to $21.55 USD) a gram in half of the reporting countries.[4] The name amphetamine is derived from its chemical name: alpha-methylphenethylamine.

Every generation of baseball has ghost.

I respect T.R.’s position.

Thank you for the reprint from the American Journal of Medicine. Let me condense it for you – speed pills give a short term boost and are legal, can be purchased in any drug store. Anabolic steroids? Not so much. It’s pointless to argue with people who compare “juicing” with ball-scuffing, so just look at the numbers. In the 90s, there was a greater discrepancy in power numbers than in any other era, by far. Since they started testing, thos enumbers have returned to normalcy. Show me the spike that occurred as a result of ANY of baseball’s “ghosts” from any other era. The only comparable discrepancy was in the pitching numbers of the 60s, when the mound was raised. I respect TR’s opinion too, but if he in fact bases his vote solely on numbers in baseball referenc.com, he should judge those numbers subjectively. If it didn’t alter those numbers, why is McGwire so tearfully apologizing to the Maris family. It’s obvious, beacuse it was a fake number. Bonds should apologize to Aaron, Clemens should apologize to Ryan, Palmeiro to Eddie Murray, and Arod to the Mantle family. Put Greg Maddux, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jim Thome in. Keep these bums out.

This one is hard to argue one way or the other for me. I understand TR’s point about the writers not having the right to judge someone’s personal conduct. If they did, Ty Cobb would have never been voted in. However I don’t like the idea of ANYONE associated with steroids getting into the HoF. So in McGwire’s example I wouldn’t vote for him.

I guess we’re all crossing our fingers that Pujols can stay healthy long enough to break everything Bonds and McGwire did. Unfortunately there’s no way Selig or any commissioner could erase the records. They would just be reinstated 40 years from now when a new generation starts to feel sorry for these guys.

I disagree totally. Enough on someone that cheated and knew it. Tell us something about the ownership negotiations.

My Blog at mlb is http://tsheat.mlblogs.com

Commenter “jefffreakinburroughs” (awesome screen name, BTW) has pretty much summed up my opinion on the matter…Mac, Bonds, and the rest of “Juice Crew” have no business being in the record books, and certainly not the HoF.

And I may respect the fact that TR is a good writer and has an opinion, but I certainly do not respect THIS particular opinion. TR is playing the “I don’t want to be judgmental” card, when, IMHO, the whole freakin purpose of his vote IS to be “judgmental”, i.e. one of many votes “judging” who should grace the halls of the MLB HoF.

The Juice Crew tainted our beloved game…the only hall they belong in is the Hall of Infamy and Shame.

I’d submit that any “admitted” users of PED’s have their eligibilty for the HoF deferred until ready to go to the Veterans Committee. Let their peers decide.

T.R. has a vote, he at least is forward about how he uses it, one has to respect that. You do not have to agree with him though, this is still the USA.

It seems all you PHD’s tend to latch on to what you believe. I do the same thing “The drug is also used recreationally and as a performance enhancer” was included in the definition of Amphetamine.

So can you say without a shadow of a doubt that all players in the 60’s – 80’s were clean?

Most of you openly admit that most if not all players used PED during the McGwire era but most did not put up the same numbers as McGwire.

I’m fairly certain I have mixed emotions on this issue but to act as if every other baseball era did not cheat is ridiculous.

Millions of dollars are at stake and if you don’t produce or get hurt what would you do?

Respect the fact that I disagree. Let’s also remember the specific year PED’s were outlawed in MLB.

I’m with sullivanian concerning TR’s vote. If it doesn’t mean much to you, give it to some one else. However, I’m with TR voting for McGwire. I mostly blame Bud Selig for the steroids mess. He didn’t do something about when it was going on (and he definitely knew) and he hasn’t done a convincing job of clearing up the past or present of steroids since. Every time he had an opportunity to do something meaningful in recent years, he let the players who had been exposed fall under the bus. The media has a field day every time some new evidence comes out. Bud could have solved the whole mess with a preemptive admission that an overwhelming number of baseball players and staff had made a big mistake with PEDs. Just make a public apology to the fans saying that none of you wanted to believe that you had done something dishonest to the game. Bud, go to Bonds, Clemens, etc and say, “Hey fellas, let’s start acting like grown men and admit what we’ve done. This isn’t just going to disappear.” Hindsight is 20/20, and PEDs definitely messed up the game. I think many players see steroids the same way I see smoking cigarettes or building with asbestos and lead paint. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” We never needed a congressional hearing to figure this out.

Honestly, I just want to watch baseball again without hearing anything else about it.

According to my tally, of the 17 responses to this column, 11 are against McGwire in the hall and 5 support McGwire in the hall. One calls for Juan Gonzalez. I would bet that the baseball fan population breaks down about the same way….except the vote for Juando.

TR, none of MLB’s beat reporters could substantiate their suspicions about players whom they thought were taking steriods? Where are Woodward and Burnstein when you need them? Were they too busy protecting themselves from alienating the very players they covered by turning a blind eye?
Besides ruining so many wonderful baseball records and the history of what we, the fans, thought were such accomplished stats, what did the illegal steroid abusers do for us fans? Which leads me to my most important point.
TR, you speak for us, the fans; we don’t get to vote for the Hall of Fame. I get irritated with the media types who sit in suites, eat free food and drink, and bang out their musings for us to read. I think our opinions matter, even if you don’t, because we pay the bills….all the bills.

TJ, peel away your crusty outer coating. Become an evolving and ever-changing human being searching to better himself and rethink your stance. They were wrong; vote no. It’s the right thing to do.

TR, not TJ….was working myself up, I guess. Sorry.

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