Sunday, November 26, 2006

Big Mac No Sure Hall of Famer

On Friday, Hall of Fame ballots will be mailed to the approximately 575 voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Though there are few certainties in life, it's guaranteed that all Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn have to worry about is not if not whether they get in but by how much of a margin more than the 75 percent votes required for election to the Hall they will surpass the requirement that they be named on at least 75 percent of ballots cast .

Mark McGwire should be so lucky. For he is about to jump into the steroid-era cauldron as the first bona fide Hall candidate from that time.

McGwire's name will sit there in close uncomfortable proximity to noted juicers Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti. There, he will be judged by writers with 10 years' experience covering the game, this writer included.
Finally, McGwire's full body of work, from the 583 career home runs to the famous stonewalling of Congress, will be judge Forget being elected on the first shot. McGwire has to worry about getting the five percent of the vote needed to remain on the ballot.

Here is a sample of his tough road as seen through the eyes of some of the nation's leading writers who recently answered said how they will wrestle with the McGwire issue. Players are judged by the writers for their first 15 years of eligibility:

Jayson Stark
I'm going to vote for him. I can't say I feel good about voting for him. But here's why I'm going to cast that vote:

People have oversimplified this issue, to the point where, if you listened to the way most people talk about it, you'd think there were only 10 players taking any kind of performance-enhancing drugs in the '90s. But we know that, in truth, there were hundreds. So should I only cast votes against players who happened to get mentioned in Jose Canseco's book, or who got subpoenaed by Congress?

What about all the other players who I might suspect were doing something but have never come up in this conversation?

Should I vote only against players who hit home runs, or broke home run records, or challenged home run records? What about all the pitchers we know were taking something? Do we care about them or not? Should I vote against them if I just THINK they might have done something?

I don't see how I can start picking and choosing when, in fact, baseball allowed all of this to happen. So that was the culture inside the game at the time, just as amphetamines were part of the culture in the '60s and '70s and '80s (and beyond). Because baseball allowed all this to happen, we hardly know anything about what McGwire may or may not have done.

We know he gave some horrible answers to some members of Congress. But in truth, we hardly know anything about what anyone in the sport may or may not have done.

So to me, just as baseball allowed Gaylord Perry to go out and win his 300 games -- which got him to the Hall of Fame -- it allowed McGwire and all of these players to compile their stats and break their records and earn their money and accolades based on those feats. So I think I'm stuck with evaluating what the sport allowed to happen on the field. Either the '90s happened or they didn't.

Since they happened, and the hundreds of players using something leveled the playing field to some extent, I feel more comfortable voting for players like McGwire than I do trying to pick and choose who did what, and when, and why.

If more evidence emerges, I always reserve the right to change my mind. But for now, I'm going to cast a very uncomfortable vote for McGwire and, for the most part, every great player of an obviously tainted generation.

I know this was probably way more than you wanted on either guy. But I'm nothing if not exhaustive. Or is that exhausting?)

Bob Nightengale
USA Today

I won't vote for him on this ballot. I don't believe he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He had a fine career, but he hit about half of his home runs in a five-year period when he was allegedly on steroids. He had too many off-years to be considered on the same ballot as Ripken and Gwynn.

And yes, I will vote for players I suspect or have been caught using steroids. Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro will be on my first ballot.

Phil Rogers
Chicago Tribune

I'm not wrestling with the McGwire decision. He wouldn't be a strong candidate without his home run totals, which have been tainted by his unwillingness to declare himself steroid-free. Unless something changes drastically in how he presents himself, I can't imagine ever voting for him.

Pat Borzi
New York Times

I'm seriously considering not voting for McGwire at all this year. He admitted using andro, and if he doesn't use it, he doesn't stay healthy enough to hit 70 or go over 500. Doesn't matter to me that baseball hadn't banned it yet. It was already banned in the Olympic movement.

If I had a ballot in front of me today, I wouldn't vote for Bonds or any of the other implicated juicers either.

And even if I decided not to hold that stuff against then, there's another issue here: Stat inflation. The 'roids influence devalues 50-homer season and 500-homer careers. I usually vote for anyone with 500 homers, but in the modern game, 600 might be the fairer benchmark in judging players from this era.

Bob Elliott
Toronto Sun

McGwire ... 1,626 hits in 16 seasons. That total is not enough for me to vote for McGwire - clean or dirty which to my mind have not been proven - when ballots come out in a few months.

Can you justify voting for a guy with almost half as many hits?

A McGwire backer will ask about his single-season home run record of 70 homers. Very impressive. Those nights in St. Louis were magical. We saw homers No. 60, 61 and 62 at Busch Stadium. Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's mark in 1961 with 61 home runs and that was pretty impressive, too, breaking a 37-year-old record.

And we saw Maris hit No. 57 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. Paul Henderson scored the greatest goal in Canadian history with seconds left against the
Russians in '72 but he is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Maris with his mark - and 1,325 hits - was on the ballot 15 years and never got more than 43.09% of the vote, far short of the required 75%.

There are only three Hall of Famers (position players) with fewer hits than McGwire's 1,626. They are:

- Infielder Jackie Robinson, who had 1,518 hits in 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He started at age 28, having previously played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

For the good he did for the game, for the man he was and for the abuse he took as the first black player in the majors, Robinson belongs even if he had averaged 15 hits a year. If Robinson had not opened the doors would we have ever have had the pleasure to watch the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams and Reggie Jackson to mention a few stars? Robinson was named on 77.5 percent of the ballots by Baseball Writers Association of America voters in 1962.

- Outfielder Ralph Kiner had 1,451 hits in 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. His career was cut short by a back ailment. He won or shared the NL home run title his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh.

McGwire led his league four times -- 1987 and 1996 with the Oakland A's, along with 1998 and 1999 with the Cards. With a ratio of 7.1 homers per 100 at-bats, he trails only Ruth and McGwire among retired players. Kiner had more than 50 homers twice, 51 in 1947 and 54 in 1949. He received 75.51% of the vote in 1975.

- Roy Campanella had 1,161 hits during his 10-year career with Brooklyn. He was a three-time National League most valuable player (1951, 1953, 1955). McGwire's best MVP finish was second in 1998. Campanella broke into the majors in 1948 at age 26 after playing seven season with the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro National League. The catcher's career came to an end after an auto crash prior to the 1958 season confined him to a wheelchair. He was named on 79.41% of the ballots in 1969.

Jeff Blair
Toronto Globe and Mail

As for my Hall of Fame vote? I will, without question, vote for Mark McGwire along with Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. First, I'm not interested in moral arguments; I'm not electing a prime minister, mayor or Pope.

I would not vote for Pete Rose, because I believe that any manager or player tempted enough to bet on a game might be equally tempted to do something that would knowingly affect the outcome of a game. That's different than taking a performance enhancer, which is for 'enhancing' performance.

Generally, fans don't feel cheated by people who are 'enhancing' their performances. Second, I believe that at least as many pitchers used/use performance enhancers as hitters.

I think the playing field was a lot more level - is a lot more level, if we're talking about HGH - than we know or knew. Third, who cares if McGwire stonewalled Congress. Isn't that what cabinet members do in committee hearings? Better to break down and be thought of as being fraud than wag your finger at cameras, say you never took steroids, and end up failing a steroid test.

Mark Whicker
Orange County Register

The McGwire vote is easy. The man had 1,600-odd hits. The only category in which he excelled was home runs. Vince Coleman had only one standout category (steals) and he isn't in. Mark Belanger had one standout category (defense) and he isn't in. McGwire's uneven career, to me, takes steroidsout of the equation. That's not to say he shouldn't make the Hall of Fame eventually. Just not on the first ballot.

Ray Ratto
San Francisco Chronicle

McGwire, he doesn't have to do anything.

My vote will be based on what he did as a player, and whether that is enough on its face to get into the Hall. My feeling is that the HOF isn't church, that it is the history of baseball, bad and good, and that if we're making behavior an issue, then the people who defend Ty Cobb and Cap Anson have some serious explaining to do.

Ken Davidoff

As for McGwire, while I reserve the right to change my mind, I don't anticipate ever voting for him. His conduct during the House Government Reform Hearing, on March 17, 2006, as well as the revelations of his backroom dealings prior to the hearing, are all the evidence I need to believe that he was a steroid user.

Murray Chass
New York Times

On McGwire: A more difficult deliberation. Although the Times does not allow us to vote, I would probably not vote for McGwire.If I were voting,I'd do far more serious thinking about it than I have, but I would probably not vote for him.

He never tested positive and he has never said "I used steroids," but his Congressional refrain -- "I'm not here to talk about the past" -- made him look guilty as hell.

The home run achievements in the steroids era by McGwire, [Sammy] Sosa and Bonds were too far out there to think something underhanded didn't have an effect on their numbers. If they were in the Hall of Fame, they would unfairly skew the measurement of players in future years as well as dwarf the accomplishments of Hall of Famers from the past.

Jack Curry
New York Times

As you know, The Times doesn't let us vote for these awards. I am eligible for the H of F vote. If you're just looking for "numbers" to show how people are leaning, I would vote "no" on McGwire if I was permitted to vote.

I did a piece back in July or August where I polled 50 writers on McGwire. I forget the exact totals, but a very small percentage said they would definitely vote for him.

Bill Madden
New York Daily News

I'm on record as being a hard-liner on all the alleged steroids cheats. I'm not voting for any of them, but if 75% of my colleagues deem them Hall-worthy, I have no problem with that. They're just not getting in with my vote.

In McGwire's case, I'm not sure if I would have voted for him anyway. He was essentially a one-dimensional player, below average defensively, who had 4-5 big home run seasons. I put him in the Harmon Killebrew (who I also didn't vote for) mode.

Hal McCoy
Dayton Daily News

As for Mr. McGwire, he will not be on my ballot, probably not ever. Using performance-enhancing substances certainly aided everything he did. Then his non-performance during the congressional hearings wiped him out of my consideration under the character clause on the ballot.

Bob Dutton
Kansas City Star

The HOF is a tougher call. Intellectually, I feel if a player is on the ballot, then his numbers/contributions should be viewed dispassionately and on merit. Realistically, I know that's tough to do. I don't know how I'd vote on McGwire.

Rick Hummel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

McGwire has no chance to get into the Hall this year, not just because of his link to the steroids issue but the appearance of two clearly better candidates in Gwynn and Ripken. There is nothing McGwire needs to do - at least not now.

He doesn't have a chance anyway this year although that is not to say I wouldn't vote for him because I probably will. Next year, however, is different with no standout candidate ahead of McGwire and we'll have a better barometer of how much the steroids thing has hurt him.

Steve Buckley
Boston Herald

I have no intention of voting for Mark McGwire. I thought his performance before Congress was a disgrace. Whenever anyone asks me about his home run numbers, I simply say I am not here to talk about the past.

Jerry Crasnick

I'm probably going to vote no on McGwire - primarily because we're still trying to assess exactly what happened during the steroid era, and I'm afraid he might go into the Hall and some startling new revelation might come out. And once a guy is in Cooperstown, you can't vote him out.
I'd rather be cautious and wait on this one.

Marty Noble

I'm all but certain McGwire won't need my support to be elected - in some year. I still am unsure how to evaluate him because of the performance enhancers - legal or illegal. That uncertainty, that he had nine seasons that fell short of HOF standards, and that he played his entire career in a time of offensive glut will make me withhold my vote until I have a better sense of how his candidacy compares with what I think and HOF player is.

Joel Sherman
New York Post

As for McGwire, I think I know which way I am leaning (not to vote for him). But I really have decided to wait until the ballot arrives and think fully about what I think on this issue. I think time is the only ally we have to assess these matters and I am going to use all of it.

Paul Hagen
Philadelphia Daily News

My standard answer still holds, which is: Why make a decision before you have to? This is an evolving story. We learn more all the time. The three questions I think a voter has to ask himself/herself are:

1. Can you vote for anybody in what we now have to consider the steroid era or do we just measure players against their peers in that era and ignore the external factors?

2. Did the player have Hall of Fame credentials before he was suspected of using steroids?

3. Can you take into account something that, no matter how strong your suspicions, are at this point just allegations?

Claire Smith
Philadelphia Inquirer

The qauge I will use is, would such a player have been considered a Hall of Famer before steroids sullied his era and/or name? To my mind, only Bonds gets a firm yes here. McGwire, one-dimensional and both a beneficiary and victim of his times, does not, and therefore will not get my vote now, perhaps even ever.


Anonymous said...

Boy, Ted Williams really was right when he termed you people the 'knights of the keyboard' in his afrewell address. Just reading the comments here is silly. I would bet my life that if I were to go back and read the stories filed by half the McGwire nay-sayers that they were ALL singing praise and heaping nothing but hap-hap-happy thoughts on the man. Baseball writers are a cynical lot and most of your "I'm-Holier-Than-Thou" writing is disgusting. McGwire, along with probably half or more of the entire baseball HOF, was not a choir boy. Whether you despise with inflamed passion his remarks before Congress, they in no way, shape nor manner diminsh what he did on the baseball diamond. Even the highly unlikable Barry Bonds once said - and regardless of anything else he's done - you have to agree with; those home runs did not go over the fence because of steroids or anything else. If you are stupid enough to believe that that's all in takes to hit a home run or collect a base hit, then try some yourselves, go pick up a bat and try to hit a 90-mph fastball!
And do all you cynics in the BBWAA honestly believe that Mantle, Jackson, Schmidt and dozens of others never took greenies, uppers or whatever else? Of course they did! The only standard by which players ought to be judged is that of the era in which they played.
But since this is nothing more than a popularity contest among cynical writers (don't think it is... then how do you explain Albert Belle being denied the MVP award in 1995 for example behind Mo Vaughn, who had way inferior statistics that season, not to mention that he led the Indians to the World Series!)
You know, in the midst of all the snide comments by the writers, attacking McGwire's remarks before Congress and his "off-field performance"... not ONE of you has written a damn thing about the few million dollars of his salary he has donated to abused children. Just one teeny example; you people dwell no more, no less on everything negative and nothing positive. Jayson Stark of is just about the lone exception to all the negativity, and he is dead-on right in that you 'knights' do nothing more than over-simplify the entire thing.
All of you 'Knights' out there; did any of you even play the game of baseball in your lives? Do you have any idea of what it's like to play the game... of what it takes to suit up and play over 150 games a year, plus spring training and/or post-season? Or even less; to feel and understand what it's like to even hit a baseball solidly?
All of you all ought to take a collective look at yourselves in the mirror; look at the era, look at the history.. before passing your Holy judgement.

Ed said...

I don't buy the arguments that say people like Ty Cobb were not angels. Those guys didn't enhance themselves physically with drugs, that is the point. Not whether or not Ty Cobb was a rascist womanizing sociopath. All you have to do is look at how deformed his body was to know that Mac was cheating.

Also the spitball argument is bogus because doctoring the ball has been part of the game since day one and it was slowly phased out.

It's pretty simple: steroid ridden freaks don't belong on the hall of fame. Screw Mcgwire and screw Bonds.

Robert O'Connor said...

Voting for McGwire is validating his use of steroids. The guy would never have hit that many home runs and without those numbers was he really an All Star?

Gerry Weiss said...

Hope you're well this afternoon. I'm writing from San Diego and just read your article on Mark McGwire. Just had a couple of comments.
First, I wish you would have written more about the subject instead of quoting others. The beginning of the article really grabbed me, but then you quoted the others and I wasn't as interested. I think your writing is stellar and would have like to see more of it.
Second, you posed the question, "Would such a player have been considered a Hall of Famer before steroids sullied his era and/or name?" I think McGwire's numbers pre performance enhancing drugs/bulking up like Bonds definitely warrant Hall of Fame consideration. But it is sad that we'll never really know what could have been. The Sosa/McGwire summer of '98 was exhilarating to the soul and truly rekindled everyone's faith not just in baseball, but in themselves as well as it restored the hope that nice guys can indeed finish first. All of the black eyes in sports that year took a back seat to two men that earned the title of Hero. To recall that time and then see where we are now is truly sad. I guess maybe you are right in the sense that it isn't always about numbers but more about what you did to rejuvenate the spirit of a nation only to let it down like so many others before you. I never thought Sosa and McGwire were capable of that sort of betrayal.

Bob LaRosa said...

I believe Mark Whicker of The Orange County Register answered best with his assessment of McGwire. I have said for years that if Dave Kingman had hit a mere 58 more home runs he would be in the Hall of Fame. McGwire couldn't hit, field, throw, steal or run the bases... other than that he was a good ball player... just like Kingman. Bill Madden of The New York Daily News and his description of a one dimensional player with 4-5 big home run seasons... perfect.


McGwire: BA = .263 OB% = .394 RBI = 1414 SB = 12 K's = 1596

Kingman: BA = .236 OB% = .302 RBI = 1210 SB = 85 K's = 1816

How many more walks did McGwire receive because of the fraudulent years? How would Kingman's stats compare if he took the same drugs as McGwire? How many more years was McGwire able to play due to the drug enhancement versus Kingman?

1998 was a fraudulent year. The whole home run race was disgusting. When McGwire entered the stands and hugged the Maris family... awful.

Now... when you factor in his use of performance enhancing drugs and his conduct before Congress, no way.... I also liked the response by Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald "...I'm not here to talk about the past."

Fact is without the drugs, we would not be talking about McGwire unless of course he some how managed to hit the 500 home runs and be the 2006 version of the 1991 HOF ballot with Dave Kingman.

My hope is that he will not get the 5% of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot. Then that drug induced fraud can go away forever.

Scott Stambaugh said...

the article was informative though, so thanks!

I've never felt more hatred for the sports media reading that so many of these writers are going to vote for the cheater.

Then again I've vowed to never again watch or listen to another baseball game if they allow Bonds to pass Aaron.

What a lousy run sport. The entire sports media has dropped the ball. Not only has steroids ruined the history of the game but the lack of a salary cap makes the competition laughable. When is somebody going to do a story about the standings in the AL East for the last dozen years. I used to follow the Orioles but what's the use ?

Scott Stambaugh

Elkan Katz said...

I appreciated your article with the views of all the different columnists on steroids and Mark McGwire. One issue that no one ever brings up is the various pitchers who against the rules used spitballs and other means to doctor the ball, as well as batters who corked their bats. I don't recall such wrongful behavior being brought up in regards to Hall of Fame membership but maybe there are too few players of Hall of Fame caliber who were caught doing this. I've always felt baseball was much too lenient on players who committed such blatantly wrong behavior. There certainly aren't any asterisks in the record book for these players.

Elkan Katz said...

I appreciated your article with the views of all the different columnists on steroids and Mark McGwire. One issue that no one ever brings up is the various pitchers who against the rules used spitballs and other means to doctor the ball, as well as batters who corked their bats. I don't recall such wrongful behavior being brought up in regards to Hall of Fame membership but maybe there are too few players of Hall of Fame caliber who were caught doing this. I've always felt baseball was much too lenient on players who committed such blatantly wrong behavior. There certainly aren't any asterisks in the record book for these players.

Elkan Katz

Joe Longo said...

Nice piece. I do not think McGwire should be voted in .. probably ever. I can't believe Jayson Stark's comment - "If more evidence emerges, I always reserve the right to change my mind." If he gets voted in and more evidence emerges, it's too late to do anything about it. I agree with Jerry Crasnick, we need to take a wait and see attitude with people in this era.

I'm 56 years old and somewhat of a baseball purist. I do think Pete Rose has done his time and belongs in the Hall because his rule-breaking was after his playing days. His stats are what they are.

I don't like people cheating to get an advantage. Based on that people of the roids era should never get in. On the other hand, they're just kids in my mind who are a product of their generation. This whole thing has created quite a dilemma for baseball and the Hall of Fame.

Bud Selig and today's ownership group are the most culpable people for things being what they are. The next guilty group is the player's union. I try not to allow my personal dislike for Bonds, or my lost respect for McGwire and Sosa, to influence my thinking. However, in my heart Roger Maris' 61 is still the record (and sadly so because I rooted real hard for our own Ryan Howard), and no matter what Bonds does this year Henry Aaron will still be my all-time homerun champ.

Tom Vogt said...

Thank you for the article on the upcoming Hall of Fame election and the shroud that surrounds Mark McGwire. I was shocked to read about how many people would vote “yes” for Mark McGwire. Do these sportswriters actually do their homework and look at players actual statistics? Or, are they sold on the articles they write about them and impressed by homerun totals? Take away the steroid and andro issues with Mark McGwire and he was an average player. Sure, he hit a lot of homeruns, but only led the league in homeruns twice. His batting average and strikeout totals were well below average. He was an average fielder at best and never won a Gold Glove. For the amount of times he was walked, he did not score an overabundance of runs. If writers vote for a player of his credentials, than don’t players like Dave Parker deserve their votes as well? Here is an example of a player who hit for average, won an MVP award, two silver slugger awards and led the league in doubles on numerous occasions. He also won an All Star MVP, five Golf Gloves and two World Series championships.

I just do not understand why writers would vote for Mark McGwire based on stats alone; he is not Hall-worthy and should not even be considered. And, if he does get in, I certainly hope players like Parker, Jim Rice and George Foster are sitting by the phone because they will then deserve the call as well.

Tom Vogt

Tom Vogt, Part II said...

I appreciate your reply, but it still does not answer my question about why your colleagues would vote for a player of McGwire’s stature. I don’t care about the drugs and whether or not he used them. My point is how writers can overlook every statistic that McGwire has in his 16-seasons. Dave Kingman hit a lot of homeruns but he’s not in the Hall (nor is he worthy). Another quick glance at comparing Dave Parker to McGwire and this is what you have:

- both were 3 time Silver Slugger Award winners

- both led the league in RBI’s one time

- both led the league in runs created one time

- both played in 3 World Series and 5 League Championship Series

- Dave Parker was the NL MVP in 1978 and All Star MVP in 1979 – Mark McGwire never won an MVP award

- Dave Parker won 3 Gold Glove awards – Mark McGwire won 1

- Dave Parker was a 2-time batting champ – Mark McGwire never led the league in hitting

- Dave Parker was a 2-time slugging champ – Mark McGwire was a 4-time slugging champ

- Dave Parker led the league in games played 1-time; Mark McGwire never led the league in games played

- Dave Parker led the league in hits 1-time; Mark McGwire never led the league in hits

- Dave Parker led the league in total bases 3-times; Mark McGwire never led the league in total bases

- Dave Parker led the league in doubles 2-times; Mark McGwire never led the league in doubles

- Dave Parker led the league in extra base hits 2-times; Mark McGwire accomplished this 1-time

- Dave Parker led the league in sacrifice flies 2-times; Mark McGwire never led the league in sac flies

- Dave Parker led the league in intentional walks 2-times; Mark McGwire led the league 1-time

- Mark McGwire led the league in homeruns 4-times; Dave Parker never led the league in HR’s

As you can see, even though McGwire’s homerun totals are huge compared to those of Parker, he only led the league 4-times and only led the league in RBI’s once. If you need more career numbers, here they are comparing the same two players:

Batting average

Parker: .290 McGwire: .263


Parker: .339 McGwire: .394


Parker: 1493 McGwire: 1414


Parker: 526 McGwire: 252


Parker: 75 McGwire: 6


Parker: 2712 McGwire: 1626

Stolen Bases:

Parker: 154 McGwire: 12

World Series Batting Average:

Parker: .283 McGwire: .188

What I have been trying to explain to anyone who will listen is that Mark McGwire was a one-dimensional player who should not receive even the 5% vote needed to continue on the ballot. I will be shocked and angry if he ever gets in and players like Parker receive only 14% of the vote each time. If Parker, Rice, Gossage, Blyleven and Dawson are not in the Hall, McGwire should not even be mentioned in the same breath.

It’s all about the statistics and Mark McGwire clearly doesn’t even come close.

Thanks again for responding and have a happy holiday season.

Jim Hoffman said...

I am stunned by writers like Jayson Stark planning or
at least seriously thinking about voting for Mark
McGwire for the Hall of Fame.
Even without considering the steroid rumors, his
resume is simply not Hall of Fame caliber.
Barry Bonds is a hall of famer, but I wouldnt vote for
him on the first ballot because of the way he has
sullied the game.
For writers to vote in an underserving player, who has
also hurt the game so much, is ridiculous.
Jim Hoffman

Regina Litman said...

Pete Rose is more deserving of induction in the baseball Hall of Fame
> than Mark McGwire. This is said seriously, not facetiously, and is
> based
> on the relative accomplishments on the field of the two of them.
> The fact that Roger Maris is not in the Hall of Fame is proof that
> setting a record for most home runs in a season is not an automatic
> factor to induct someone.
> What you said about Barry Bonds as opposed to Mark McGwire is
> interesting and something for others to keep in mind.

Rich Westcott said...

I've enjoyed your articles on the McGwire situation with the Hall
> of
> > Fame vote. But I think your respondents and various
> self-righteous
> types
> > have all missed two key points. One, if we're going to judge
> character,
> there is at least one alleged
> > murderer in the Hall, plus assorted drunks, wife-beaters and other
> > unsavory types. So what's wrong with having an alleged steroid
> user,
> > too? (although we really have no proof that he took the stuff)
> Two,
> steroids may help one hit a ball farther, but you first have to put
> the bat on the ball, and steroids have nothing to do
> > with that.
> > I've been writing about baseball for nearly 25 years. If I could vote, I'd give one to McGwire.

Anthony Preziosi said...

After sending you the e-mail, I did a little research on the names I mentioned. I've long supported Rice for the Hall, and I think his career numbers would bear me out. The surprise of the bunch for me was Harold Baines.

22 seasons, 2,866 hits and a lifetime .289 average, 384 homers and a six-time all star. His career, though, may have been overshadowed by other outfielders. Mattingly suffers from a brief career (although a .307 lifetime average) and if he had played longer, would be a stronger candidate. But remember, Koufax got in on the strength of five great seasons, so longevity should not be a major consideration. Koufax was more dominant in that time than Mattingly, though.
Trammell's fine career is not Hall-worthy, even for a shortstop.

The shortcoming of Ripken's great career is his .276 average. Other records were the result of his longevity, including the 437 home runs. That isn't to say that he doesn't belong in the Hall, because he does, but I just think that the romance of "The Streak" may be a bit much, and your points about his candidacy are certainly valid.

And, lest we forget, that steroids were barely a blip during McGwire's career. The issue at the time was Androstenedione. He, along with Sammy Sosa, was responsible for bringing baseball back from the post-strike malaise with their home-run record chase. If it took steroids (alledgedly) to do that, then perhaps McGwire's place in history is justified, and perhaps his place in the Hall as well.

Another minor irritation in all of this is the "first ballot" mistique. Several writers, in your Inquirer poll, stated that they wouldn't vote for him on the first ballot, as if that was a tacet approval of his actions. I've always believed that either a guy belongs or doesn't.

When Larry Bowa was eligible, he was not given enough votes to be included on subsequent ballots. One writer said that, "If I knew that he wasn't going to get enough votes, I would have voted for him." Whether or not Bowa is a Hall-of-Famer is arguable, but to use that as a reason to vote for him is ludicrous.

While making him wait may be a political statement and make the writers feel better, I'm not sure that history will look back on any player who is so honored and place them below others merely because of the timing of their induction.

Thank you for indulging me. Few things are as much fun as debating and discussing baseball.

(original email follows)

Maybe I have more of a problem with Ripken getting into the Hall than McGwire? Without doing any real research (hard to do here at work), but, off the top of my head II'd guess that Alan Trammell, Jim Rice, Harold Baines, Don Mattingly and Andre Dawson have as good as - if not better - career numbers than Ripken. And maybe Concepcion, too. Those guys probably won't be voted in, and may never be, but Cal will.

Cal has the streak, so I guess that gets him in, but ask yourself how many times the debate raged as to whether he really needed some time off to combat a slump or some other flaw in his game.

Anthony said...

OK, so never mind all the debate about McGwire. The bottom of the HOF ballot is much more interesting to me. It went like this (player & number of votes):

Albert Belle 19, Paul O'Neill 12, Bret Saberhagen 7, Jose Canseco 6, Tony Fernandez 4, Dante Bichette 3, Eric Davis 3, Bobby Bonilla 2, Ken Caminiti 2, Jay Buhner 1.

Can someone explain to me why that group of players would receive any votes at all, let alone as much as 19? Are there voters who truly believe that Dante Bichette belongs in the Hall, or are they just filling in a name on a ballot?

It trivializes the voting process. Fans know better, and deep down, the writers do too. But what it really does is feed into my cynicism.

Do a couple of writers get together and agree to vote for a couple of guys? They would have to, otherwise someone might "accidentally" get voted in (like Tommy John, who got 125 votes).
When the writers take their responsibilities seriously, then maybe we can give the process the respect it deserves. Until then, I'm afraid that voting for Paul O'Neill and Ken Caminiti just makes the writers look stupid, even though they are hidden behind the cloak of anonymity.

Perhaps it's time to put a name behind the vote? Anonymous voting spawns nonsense like that. Someone at the Hall should find out who is casting these ridiculous ballots and strip them of their vote. Obviously, they don't take it as seriously as the fans.